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Information Connection: Training Your Dog to Leave It

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Can your dog leave it?

By Sally the Trainer, of  http://www.sallysangels.com
For more tips on helping your dog be his or her best, see http://www.sallysangels.com

Sally's Angels Training Tip: "Leave" or "Leave it" command

The key to safety for you and your dog is clarity with your commands. The dog is only as good as his/her handler. When training dogs for service, we are clear because the dog's life and the handlers life could depend on it. We don't say "sit" if we mean "down", or "stay" if we mean "wait", you get the drift. The dog follows your lead. If you are not clear, the dog has no clue what you want and can't please you. In service the dog goes everywhere with his/her owner, so the pooch is open to many unforeseen hazards. It's the handler's responsibility to keep the dog safe. An important command to do that is "Leave" or "Leave it."

"Leave it" means nose and/or lips off the object and leave it alone. Sometimes we use it for courtesy, like stopping the dog when sniffing someone's crotch or sticking his nose in a clothes rack at the department store. But most of the time it is for food safety. We don't want the dog to scarf food off restaurant or host's floors, eat scraps of food in public that could be poisonous or harmful, or pick up something in a store to chew or eat (like paper clips etc.), take food off plates or counters, etc. So why not just say "No" or "Don't"? Because we are specific. Leave it is for that specific object they have their nose or mouth on. It doesn't mean they can't eat or sniff, it means they can't eat or sniff that object.

Leave it is easy to teach. But be clear. Use leave it when you are out on a walk and the dog goes after something that could be harmful. Say "Leave it", use a leash correction and say "Good Leave It" when the dog leaves the object alone. Pass by the object two or three times to reinforce. (A good place to practice is a picnic park and parking lot of a fast food restaurant. There are lots of yummies strewn around.)

If you have a problem at home with a dog stealing food or going after unsavory items, leash the dog in the house and do setups. Put food or the object within the dog's reach and walk by it. Say "Leave it", use a leash correction and say "Good Leave It" when the dog leaves the object alone. Pass by the object two or three times to reinforce. Do it daily for awhile as well as when you go on walks . Make "leave it" a well used command. You may need it in a pinch someday such as when your dog has his nose on a poisonous object and you shout "Leave it", you want the dog to leave it. Most of us live in crowded and dangerous cities these days, so protect your dog in all ways that you can.

Have you ever wondered about those seeing eye dogs, police dogs, and the dogs who assist the mobility-challenged? How do their trainers get these dogs to perform with such precision and reliability? Well, we refer to these dogs as service dogs, and you have to agree they are wonderful. At http://www.sallysangels.com, we recognize them as the angels they are. The "secret" to their training involves two factors: "repeat, repeat, repeat," and consistency. These are two factors you can apply to the training of any dog, to forge a mutually beneficial and happy relationship. Don't give the command if you are not going to enforce it. And use lots and lots of praise--this is the reward dogs most enjoy. You'll find the dog will reward you, too.

Special note on Sally's Angels: http://www.sallysangels.com is a fun site about and for service dogs.  Service dogs are our passion. Be sure to visit TLCSD, Tender Loving Canine Service dogs, to read about their unique way of training service dogs. And make sure to follow our monthly progress report of a TLCSD dog in training. Service Dogs really do make a difference in people's lives. They truly are angels.

Thanks for the free tips, Sally. Mindconnection is proud to host your article, and we recommend http://www.sallysangels.com to anyone interested in dogs.
-- Mark Lamendola, Mindconnection.com

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