MemberOctober 15, 2019 at 4:53 pm69
In general, “leave it” should mean to disengage with something or someone forever or until released to that object. Since your dog is 7 months old, she’s going through adolescence, and will be having more trouble with impulse control in general for the next 1-1.5 years. So make sure to have lots of patience and be consistent :-). While you are teaching her the fantastic consequences of complying with the cues you’re teaching, as well as the negative consequences of not complying, make sure that you are as much as possible, managing her to prevent her from practicing these behaviors. This means being very aware of the environment and keeping a short enough leash to prevent her from being able to get to objects, you would like her to avoid. Keep in mind, that later on, you will also be able to use other cues on walks for the purpose of having her leave things alone. For example, you can also use the “heel” cue or ask her to “come” to you. By high distraction environment, I mean outdoors or even indoors, if there are other people and animals.
I start off teaching “leave it” slightly differently from the video. Both work though. I don’t use the food I’m asking the dog to leave alone, as a reward. Later, when the dog starts to understand the concept of “leave it,” I will occasionally mark + reward/praise for leaving the object alone, and then release to the object. Here are some videos I made for a client, working with a Shiba Inu.
In the first sessions, I only focus on the concept of being rewarded for disengaging, and don’t introduce the cue “leave it” until the dog is reliably performing this behavior with food left in my hand and on the floor. I start off by using a low value food (kibble) to disengage with, and reward with a high value food (meat). I later move to leaving alone higher value food and objects. Here, I’m using a clicker to mark the behavior, but you can also just use a verbal marker. Once she understands the task, I use both the clicker and verbal marker/praise. I think that if you teach it this way, you’re less likely to end up needing to repeat the cue multiple times.
Once I introduce the cue, I’m also initially marking and rewarding for short durations. I then mark and reward at intervals, while the food remains on the ground and introduce the release word in the leave it context. I don’t release to what I’m asking the dog to leave alone, often. I’m just using a leash to prevent her from getting to the food, not for corrections. You can then do this with different objects, toys, people. When you’re certain that she understands the concept of leave it, you would start to teach phase 2 leave it – meaning how to escape and avoid a correction and the meaning of NO. Let me know if you have any questions or would like me to look at a video.
Step 1 (hand)
Step 2 (floor)
Introducing the Cue
Rewarding at Intervals (sorry about the angle)
Introducing a release