In the following video training tip, you will see how I teach my dogs to “Leave it” and “Take it”. This is really an important part of any puppy’s training as it helps prevent future resource guarding. Many dog bites occur when a dog is “guarding” something he or she values. This method teaches the dog that when he gives up something he will be rewarded. Once this behaviour is ingrained, even when you have nothing to trade, your dog will still give up whatever is in his mouth without a chase or battle.
This is useful for a variety of reasons – he or she might have picked up something harmful (or delicate) that you want to get away from him. If your dog has pulled the roast chicken carcass out of the garbage or grabbed your cashmere shawl – so much better if you can get those items back before your dog either ingests something harmful or ruins the object. This is an especially important behaviour to teach your dog when you have young children living in the household.
“Leave it” and “Take it” Exercise
- The handler has 2 bully sticks ( you want 2 things as identical as possible that will not fall apart easily when chewed).
- The handler sitting in a chair with one bully stick or pig’s ear in each hand (One hand is behind the handlers back at first).
- The other hand keeps hold of the bully stick or pig’s ear and handler encourages the dog to chew on the stick.
- Some dogs might be reluctant at first to chew the stick while the owner is still grasping it so the handler needs to praise for chewing on the object.
As the owner brings the other bully stick or pig’s ear close to the dog’s mouth she cues “leave it” or whatever cue they prefer
- As the owner gently pushes the new bully stick or pig’s ear towards the dog’s mouth the dog will back off the first bully stick to take the new bully stick. At this point the owner cues “take it”.
You do not want to pull the chewy from the dog’s mouth. You want the dog to back off of it or let go because they are getting ready to take the new stick.
- Repeat and practice for 2 minutes.
- This teaches the dog the cues “leave it – take it” or at least teaches them to trade one object for another that is presented.
- Because the objects are as much the same as possible you reduce the chance they will prefer one over the other.. some dogs prefer taking a treat from the right or left hand so I would occasionally change the sticks from one hand to the other.
- Using 2 items of the same value helps the dog feel giving one up is not bad because the other is just the same. This changes the emotion of giving something up from being a potentially charged situation to a calmer situation.
Happy Training, Janice
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