MemberOctober 11, 2019 at 2:41 pm235
Yossi, I hope this helps you with Leave It. Reading your note, I wonder if your dog really understands Leave It, even in a no- or low-distraction Phase 1 environment. There are tons of ways to teach Leave It. Here’s one. Although it’s presented here as a Phase 1 exercise, you can adopt it to Phases 2 and 3 and I hope this gets you started so that eventually you can get your dog to Leave It on a walk. (In that regard, it’s important for you to keep an eye out for tempting objects while you’re out on a walk and to watch your dog closely. Because the sooner you see your dog getting interested in something and the quicker you say Leave It, the more likely it is that your dog (and you) will succeed. OK, here are the specifics:
If you’re outside, have dog on leash, w/your foot on leash and dog standing or sitting in front of you. In phase 1 training the leash is there for control, not for teaching Escape and Avoidance.
Step 1 – Reward dog for avoiding a treat that’s held in your fist with a a treat that’s in your other hand. Here’s how: Step on leash. One treat in fist of one hand and lots of yummy little treats in your other hand behind back. Hold fist just in front of dog’s nose. Dog will sniff, paw, lick, mug your fist to try to get at treat. Do and say nothing, until your dog shows the slightest sign of hestitation/avoidance. Then say Good Boy and reward your dog from your other hand. Repeat several times, then gradually opening your fist more and more until your dog can resist an object that’s sitting in your open palm, right in front of his nose. Proceed to Step 2 when your dog can do this reliably.
Step 2 – Add the verbal cue: Now that your dog consistently avoids a treat held in your open palm, say ‘Leave It’ just before placing it in front of dog’s face. (Quickly close your fist if he goes for it.) Then open your fist and try again. Remember not to pull your fist away if you dog goes for the treat, because is supposed to meant that your dog has the self-control needed for him to avoid a treat (or anything else) when he hears ‘Leave It.’ Since we’re in teaching mode, it’s important to be very quick to reward the slightest sign of avoidance. As your dog starts to develop greater self control, start moving you open palm closer and closer to the floor, until your hand open palm is resting on floor and the dog can briefly avoid a treat in your open palm before you reward from other hand.
Step 3: Now try placing the treat on the floor and covering it with your foot. Then remove say ‘Leave It’ and remove your foot. If your dog doesn’t go for it, praise, rewar and free.
Step 4: Wait for Eye Contact: Repeat Steps 1, 2, and 3 but this time, instead of just brief avoidance, wait for dog to look at you before rewarding. Practice with all sorts of objects (food, socks, people, toys, etc. Remember never to reward with the object that your dog’s been told to Leave. (In some cases – depending on your dog – it might be better to reverse the order of Steps 3 and 4.)
Remember you have to be very quick, calm and observant. Waiting too long before saying Leave It will frustrate you and slow your dog’s learning.