Can your dog "leave it?"
Can your dog resist temptations or do they gobble up goodies at any opportunity?
Dogs are opportunists who seem to have bottomless pits where their stomachs should be. Drop a morsel of turkey, a cookie, or even a dangerous cooked bone or medication, and many dogs will eagerly snatch it up without any thought. This habit can be especially troublesome during the holidays, when visitors or children may not be as scrupulous in their efforts to keep the dog from catching goodies, and owners can be distracted among all the hub-bub. "Leave it" is all about teaching a dog to control their own impulses and make a choice that we want them to make. Since dogs do what works for dogs, we need to teach a dog that ignoring something on cue is more worth their while than whatever the goodie on the ground might be. This, of course, takes practice. Work on teaching or improving your dog's ability to leave items alone now, well before guests arrive and the turkey is on the table!
Practice makes perfect Try "leave it" all over the house, particularly in any areas that you suspect you'll need to use it such as the kitchen and dining room. Practice "leave it" while sitting at a table, in a chair, or standing at the counter as if you were preparing food. If your dog is having trouble with "leave it" and consistently nabs the treat or can't stop focusing on trying to get it, go back to basics and make sure you haven't skipped any steps. Moving too fast in this process will only teach your dog that "leave it" is a meaningless phrase that humans say sometimes when yummy stuff is on the ground. "Leave it" should be a powerful cue that better stuff awaits your dog if they choose to ignore the stuff in front of them!
Here's a great video from trainer Nando Brown about teaching this skill:
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