The leave it command is one of the most important commands to teach. It empowers them to decide and have self-control. Roxy once picked up a dead animal and the ‘leave it’ command was great for her to drop it and continue the walk!
Start by placing a normal treat in front of your dog and cover it with your hand. Let your dog see and smell the treat but not get it. Say “Leave it” when they pay attention to it and as soon as they stop mark (‘good dog’, etc.) and reward them with a high value treat such as hot dogs or canned salmon from your other hand. Try to not let them get the treat on the floor as it makes it harder for them to catch-on.
Continue practicing and increasing difficulty by removing your hand from the treat on the floor. Should they try and get it cover it back up. Give a soft dull ‘no’ or ‘ut ah’ when they go for it and mark/reward when their attention is on you. Your dog should catch on quickly.
Next step is to give yourself some distance and eventually move out of the room. You should be able to say leave it and they don’t eat the treat because they are waiting for you to come back to get one.
An advanced step is when using a toy to play with your dog saying “leave it” and they drop the toy and get a treat.
This exercise is also beneficial as it teaches your dog willpower and delayed gratification. By making a choice to listen to you, they get an even better reward!
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