In this exercise we’re beginning to teach our dog the ‘Leave-It’ cue.
I like to teach this first in the context of not picking up something that’s dropped on the floor. Tablets and medications are obvious items that can be toxic and potentially lethal so the last thing you want is your dog rushing over if you drop a tablet on the floor and eating it.
The exercise has lots of other benefits too. We’re going to teach ‘leave-It’ using the Unlock Game which is an example of a choosing game (free-choice exercise).
A choosing game is one where the goal is not to teach a specific cue, but rather to help the dog learn that good choices make good things happen.
Many dogs have very little control over what happens to them on a daily basis. Choosing games bring joy, because they teach dogs that they can get what they want (and please you at the same time) by using their brain and figuring out what you want.
It’s a little hard for me to demo this exercise with Jim as he knows it so well so when presented with a handful of treats he will ignore them and look at me straight away so I’ve included a little bit of footage with Mia as well – she is not quite so reliable especially when cheese is on offer!
Underneath the video is a downloadable guide to starting Leave-It training.
As the first step of this game is to get your dog to ignore food in your hand have separate little training sessions just reserved for this exercise. (If you try and practice it alongside other behaviours which call for your dog to follow / touch your hand you could confuse your dog.)
Have fun! Leave-it is one of my favourites!