Many of your dog’s behavioral issues can be handled by teaching this one command…
The Magic Words? “Leave it” & “Watch Me”
Here at LA School For Dogs, we teach “Leave It”, but you can use any word or phrase you like. For example, some trainers will use “Look” or “Watch Me”.
Your dog can learn to “leave it” in just four easy steps:
1. Teach your dog that the words “leave it” equal bologna or something else equally as delicious.
2. Teach your dog he has to look at you when you say “leave it” to earn the bologna.
3. Proof this new behavior out around ever increasing levels of distraction bit by bit.
4. Apply this technique / command as an alternative behavior to the problem behavior you are having.
Let’s break that down a little…
First, you should always have your dog inside the house and on leash when teaching a new word. This will enable you to always give the reward within two seconds of saying the words leave it.
Simply say the words “watch me” or “leave it” and give the treat within two seconds. Repeat this process two or three times, then move to a new room. Do this two or three times per day for two days.
After two days of indoor training, work your way out and around the backyard and then the front yard. On the fifth and six days do 4-6 repetitions while out on a 30 minute walk at least twice per day.
Of course, being outside will be much more challenging, so try to keep the distractions while outside to minimum. You want to achieve success many times before raising the bar to more difficult situations!
Tip: When you move this routine to a new location or add a new distraction, you will need to work harder at getting your dog to look your way.
In order to keep your dog responding the first time, be sure to only say the command once. If you do not get an immediate response, you can use other means of getting his attention:
- Tickle his ear.
- Make a high pitched kissing noise.
- Put the smelly treat by his nose.
- Move away quickly to draw him visually.
Once you have mastered this skill, you can use it in almost any situation in which you need your dog to quickly switch their attention away from something distracting or dangerous back to you!
Remember that consistency and repetition will go a long way to teaching your dog positive behavior habits.