It’s unlikely that there’s a dog in the world who hasn’t grabbed or coveted something he shouldn’t have or even worse, could harm him. For example, a dropped pill of prescription medication or rat poison packet. Teach your dog how to “Leave It” or “Drop It” to save not only that expensive pair shoes, but also cherished keepsakes, toys, and other items.
How to teach “Leave It”.
When the dog is looking at or heading toward something that we do not want him to interact with or have, “Leave It” can be used. If your dog is focusing on a deer or a tasty steak, “Leave It!” can be a lifesaver.
As you are holding up the treat, say “Leave it!” in a cheerful manner (this is a cue and not a command). Then, place the treat under your foot so that it’s protected. As your dog tries to grab the treat, let him sniff, lick and/or nibble.
Put a tasty treat (we used beef jerky) under your feet (wear sturdy shoes!) Allow your dog to try and get the treat by licking it or scratching. Photo by Nancy KernsThe moment your dog looks away from the treat or moves away, click the clicker or say “Yes!” to mark that moment. Then give him another treat. When he starts to get the hang of this, you can move your foot slightly away from the food treat and use the “Leave It!” cue. If he looks away, click or say “Yes!” and reward him with treats. Mark and reward him when he turns his head away. You should not correct your dog verbally. Instead, wait until he exhibits the desired behavior of refusing food and then mark it and reward him with a tasty treat.
Mark and treat your dog after he has moved away or looked away. Practise until your dog will leave things alone when asked to.
Give your dog something that he enjoys. Tito is using a small ball, which fits perfectly in his mouth. Photo by Nancy Kerns
You can use “Drop It” or “Trade”, if your dog has already gotten something into his mouth. A well-taught command can be the difference between success and failure. We prefer the term “Trade” to “Drop it”, as it suggests a cooperative relationship.
Give your dog something he enjoys. Offer him a reward when he is playing happily. While he is dropping the toy, mark it and give him the treat. Toss him the toy and say “Trade”.
Offer him a tasty treat and say “Trade!” Tito will drop the toy if your treat is tasty enough. Do not race your dog for the toy. Instead, continue to give him treats far away from it so that you can pick it up casually. Throw it to him, and then start again. Nancy Kerns When he is willing to trade, try a high-value item like a Kong stuffed with food. If you give him a high-value treat, he will be more likely to trade and less likely to guard it. If he is not interested in trading and guards his item, read “Resource-Guarding: What You Need To Know”.
Teach your dog to “Leave it” whole
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