It is important to teach your dog to ignore an object or food on command. For example, if you are walking you do not want to let your dog investigate a dead cane toad on the footpath.
We are teaching the dog to leave following these simple steps
- Take a treat and place it on the floor.
- Place your foot over the treat while your dog is watching, say ‘leave it’ and let him/her sniff, lick nibble at it.
- At the split second your dog stops sniffing or looks away give him/her a treat from your hand.
- Keep repeating until your dog backs up or turns his/her head at the ‘leave it’ cue. When your dog starts to get the hang of it, start to move your foot so that the treat is a little more accessible; give treats for staying away from the food. If your dog dives for it, simply cover it with your foot to prevent him/her from getting it. Treat if he/she looks away.
When you can step away and the dog leaves the treats alone start substituting other more valuable items and repeat the process.
While we are teaching this exercise using food the ‘Leave’ is generally used to stop the dog doing many different undesired things like chewing on the lead when walking or stealing things around the house or displaying any other unwanted behaviour.
The leave cue should always be followed by another cue like ‘come’, ‘sit’ or ‘look at me’ etc. to let the dog know what it is that we require him/her to do instead.
- Be patient.
- Look for small movement of the eyes away from the food to reward initially.
- Say “leave it” only once, don’t repeat it if your dog goes back to the treat, just cover it and wait for a movement away to click and treat.