The world is full of hazardous items for your dog, both indoors and out. Teaching the LEAVE IT or DROP IT command is very important to the well-being of your pet.
To teach LEAVE IT, start by getting a treat that is of high value to your dog. I like to use a piece of a hot dog. Place your dog on a leash, show him the treat. Then command LEAVE IT and drop the treat to the ground far enough away that he cannot get it. If your dog goes after it, pull him away and remind him to LEAVE IT. Do not let him get the treat. Continue repeating this until he does not attempt to get the snack.
You can also practice by placing the treat on the ground and walking your dog past it. As he approaches the treat command LEAVE IT and pull him away. When he shows no interest, praise him but do not let him take the treat from the ground. If you chose to let him have it, pick it up and give it to him yourself — and always remember the praise.
The DROP IT or RELEASE command is used when your dog has something in his mouth that you want him to let go. Start by offering him one of his favorite toys and say “take it.” When the toy is in his mouth, trade with him. Say DROP IT firmly while holding the treat up to his nose. When he drops the toy, give him the treat.
If your dog does not let go of the toy, try holding the treat closer to his nose, wiggling it and getting excited about the treat. Do not try to pry the toy from his jaws; this could send the wrong message and inadvertently cause toy aggression. Be patient and perhaps try a different treat. As soon as he lets go of the toy, praise him and immediately give him the treat. Keep doing this randomly until the dog instantly drops the object.
If your dog likes to play keep away, place a leash on him for the duration of the training, holding him close to you so he doesn’t run away from you with the toy in his mouth. This will quickly become a game and the behavior will be even harder to break. You need to control the situation; you are the leader.
Always remember that with all training, patience and consistency are essential.
From the Pet Tails Magazine archives; this article was written by Nicole Zarnoch, CCS of Cosmo’s Corner.