Why every dog should learn the “leave it” command.
You just never know when some situation will arise when you might need to prevent your dog from coming to harm. I’m all for loving nature but when it comes to snapping turtle egg laying season my primary concern is for my dogs. As cool as they might be – these critters are pretty defensive when they are in egg laying mode and they can inflict some pretty severe damage. And it’s at times like these, when I come across one of these turtles in my yard, that I am beyond thankful that my dogs know the “leave it” command. This command is useful many other situations: when you don’t want them to chase the cat, run across the road to see another dog, going towards the hamper to grab a sock, etc.
The way I start out with teaching my dogs this valuable command is by gathering up some treats that they don’t care too much about – like dog kibble or Cheerios. Get your dog’s attention with the treat and say “leave it” like you mean it (stern – no cute high pitched voices here) and then put the treat on the ground right next to your foot so that you can cover it with shoe should your dog go for the treat. Now wait … this might take a while, but wait for them to look at you and when they are making eye contact give them a different treat from your hand while saying “take it”. Continue doing this a couple of times until you have a pile of treats on the floor. As you progress you dog should be getting better at paying more attention to you and less attention to the treats on the ground.
When you are finished with this exercise (don’t spend more than 5 minutes) pick up all of the treats on the ground and save them for a later time. You don’t want to let your dog have these treats because you want them to learn that “leave it” means that they should never touch it – ever!
Each time you practice, try increasing how appealing the treats are that you are putting on the ground – eventually work your way up the the types of treats that your dog really loves like meat or cheese. Then try putting some distance between the treats and your foot – just keep increasing the challenge. Your dog is smart (usually smarter than you think) and with a lot of practice, a little bit of patience, and even more love they will get it.
Please let me know if you have any questions – I’m here to help.
peace, love, and plenty of tail wags~