We’ve all been there. You’re out dog walking Chicago streets and that perfect storm happens. It’s the dead bird, or the neighbor’s aggressive terrier, or a squirrel and suddenly your shoulder is aching from having to yank back on the leash as you try to gain control of your dog. What if it was possible to gain your pups attention without the need for tugging or physical force? That’s why the ‘leave it’ command is such a necessary part of every dog’s obedience training!And with patience and positive reinforcement, it’s easy to add this to your dog’s repertoire.
When Should you Start Teaching This?
Whither young or old, it’s a valuable part of obedience training for any Chicagodog. Walking, at home or anywhere, you can make use of this useful command and can start teaching it to your dog at the same time you teach him the usual obedience staples like sit!
Building the Behavior of the ‘Leave It’ Command
The first steps are always the most important! To get your dog’s response triggered to your voice, you need to build the behavior first! You’ll be making use of this valued command in no time!
- Take a seat before your dog in a no distraction environment. Try a quiet room in your house with now windows and without other people or pets.
- Keep a regular treat like kibble in one hand. This will be the ‘Leave It’ treat. In your other hand, use something savory (like cheese, part of a hot dog etc.) that your dog loves. This will be the ‘jackpot’ treat.
- With your ‘leave it’ treat resting on an open palm, hold it out to your dog and don’t make any sound. Your dog will probably dive to get it so quickly close your hand and don’t allow him to. Hold out for your dog to lose interest in what’s in your hand and when he does, quickly say “Yes!’ and reward him with the ‘jackpot’ treat.
- If your dog is especially tenacious and won’t give up on the ‘leave it’ treat, keep your fist closed and hold it from his reach. Ignore him until he loses interest before saying ‘yes’ and giving him the jackpot treat.
- Wait about 10 seconds and then go ahead and repeat steps 2 and 3. If your dog goes for the ‘leave it’ treat again, shut your fist again. If he looks a bit confused, that’s a sign that he’s starting to think about the problem! Once he loses interest say ‘yes!’ and give him the jackpot treat. If your dog ignores the ‘leave it’ treat, give an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’ the jackpot treat and reward with a loving scratch to his favorite ear.
- Repeat 3 and 4 multiple times.Be patient with your dog as well! Even the most experienced of Chicago dog walkers can’t teach this in a day and trying to cram it into your dog’s head in a few sessions won’t work! Remember to be consistent each time to get the most effect from your training. This will teach your dog that the ‘leave it’ treat isn’t as enticing as the ‘jackpot’ treat, and ignoring it will get him a better reward!
Attaching a Verbal Command for the ‘Leave It’ Behavior
Once he’s got the behavior down, it’s time to get words attached for your Chicago dog. Walkers everywhere will be envious of your dog’s obedience once you complete this!
- Start saying ‘Leave It’ as you hold out the normal treat as you practice. Doing so will attach the verbal command to the action of ignoring the plain treat.
- Once your dog has theconduct and words down pat, start steadily introducing him to these different scenarios. Remember to be patient and don’t move too quickly for your dog.
- Hold the ‘leave it’ treat hand in different spots as you practice.
- Wait to say ‘yes’ and reward your dog until after he makesvisual contact with you. You want your dog to look to you for guidance and a reward once you say ‘leave it.’
- Put the ‘leave it’ treat on the ground in front of your feet as you stand. If your dog goes after it, place your foot over it so he can’t get it.
- Move to different rooms and places to practice until your dog can complete this outside.
- Steadily place yourself farther and farther from your dog and saying ‘Leave It’ to teach him to mind even when you’re not next to him.
- Practice with distractions in the room such as other people, dogs, etc.
- Put treats out on the ground as you are dog walking. Chicago dogs should learn to ignore these treats as you walk past them.
By using positive reinforcement and patient training it’ll be easy to have your dog listen to you no matter how enticing the quarry.And when you spend a lot of time in Chicago dog walking, what could be better than having a mindful dog who listens when called?