Dogs are naturally curious and can often get themselves in trouble, especially when they are untrained. If you’ve ever taken your dog for a walk and had it chase another dog or a person, you know the stress this can cause.
It is important owners know their dogs are not purposely trying to be naughty. For many dogs, chasing is an instinct. Some dogs are hard-wired to have a higher prey drive than others.
Dogs like terriers, border collies, and boxers have a strong prey drive that causes them to chase anything and everything that moves. With this drive, your dog could become so focused on its prey that it ignores your commands entirely.
For dogs that enjoy the thrill of the chase, a firm command becomes necessary. The call of “Stay”, “Come”, or “No” may not suffice. Teaching your dog to “Leave It” is essential for its safety and yours.
Why Is Training Your Dog So Important?
Training is an essential responsibility for dog owners. Training not only makes your dog more obedient but also increases the bond between the two of you and stimulates your dog’s brain, keeping it healthy.
Substantial training is especially important to keep your dog well behaved around other dogs, pets, or humans. As an owner, you are responsible for your dog’s behavior. If your dog chases someone and causes injuries, you are held liable for the damages.
As a dog owner, you must remember what you view as unacceptable behavior may simply be normal behavior for a dog. Curbing your dog’s natural inclinations is not always easy, but is possible with the right training approach.
The “Leave It” Command Is a Highly Important Training Tool
This valuable command is versatile because you can use it in multiple scenarios. Not only can “Leave It” mean stop chasing a squirrel, but it can also mean leave that nasty piece of garbage alone.
This command puts you in control and quashes your dog’s desire to run after any moving object. Using this command stops behavior that is dangerous or rude and helps your dog to refocus.
Be Patient with Your Dog’s Training Progress
Because this is such an important command, you will need to work in steps with your dog, based on its training level. If you have already committed yourself to dog training, your dog is likely to be more responsive to training cues and may progress quickly.
This is for dogs that have very little training if any. You are going to start with a very basic training exercise and advance as your dog shows improved capability. If you have a puppy and an older dog, train them separately, since their attention spans are different.
First, choose a treat your dog loves. Make sure it is tasty. Place the treat under the toe of your shoe and make sure your dog cannot access it at all.
Allow your dog to sniff, paw, and even scratch at your shoe, never lifting it to reveal the treat. Wait until your dog becomes bored and walks away. This takes patience because some dogs are determined and may not give up easily.
Training your dog with a clicker is very useful for this activity. At the exact moment, your dog walks away, mark with a clicker or a “Yes” command. Give your dog a special treat from your hand. To really teach your dog to leave alone specific things, you must never allow the dog to receive the treat under your foot. Practice this several times.
Eventually, try adding the command. When your dog sniffs or shows interest in your shoe, give the “Leave It” command. Reward your dog when it turns away from your shoe.
Place a yummy treat on the floor near your foot. If your dog shows interest in the treat and comes towards it, use your shoe to smash the treat. If your dog leaves it alone, offer it a reward from your hand. Repeat this step until your dog consistently walks away from the treat.
Next, you will want to drop a treat on the floor. As it is dropping, give the “Leave It” command. If your dog responds by walking away, offer a treat from your hand. If your dog attempts to eat the treat, back up to step one and start over with training.
This step will help train an aggressive dog and put it to the test. You will need to roll a treat slowly between your legs, behind you. As soon as you roll the treat, immediately give the “Leave It” command. If your dog leaves it alone, reward it with a treat from your hand. Keep repeating this step until your dog consistently leaves the treat alone.
This is a continuation of training step four. As your dog grows accustomed to avoiding the treat, try rolling it further away, more aggressively, and even in different directions. The goal is to get your dog to listen to the command, no matter how much it wants to go after the treat. Always offer a reward from your hand and not the reward that was rolled on the floor.
As your dog advances in “Leave It” training, you will need to make the training more like real-life scenarios . You will need to plant some treats along a short walking route. Do this in advance and make sure to cover the treat. As you walk your dog and it sniffs the treats, give the “Leave it” cue. As soon as your dog successfully avoids the planted treat each time, reward him with a treat from your hand. Practice this several times. If your dog is finding it difficult to remain on task, move to a path in your backyard and try again in an area with a GPS dog fence. You may spend a lot of time on this step, and that is okay. Allow your dog to progress with each step as slowly as necessary.
With this step, you are going to take your dog out in public, but in a quiet area. This is not the time for walks around a lot of other animals or people. When your dog shows interest in something, give the “Leave It” command right away. Each time your dog leaves the interesting item alone, offer a treat from your hand.
If Fido remains consistent with training and is responding correctly each time, you can progress to teaching your dog in a more crowded place.
This step will involve taking your dog into an unleashed public area. Test your dog to see how it responds when other dogs, animals, or people are around. The moment you notice your dog showing interest in something, give the command. Do not wait. Once your dog is progressing towards another dog, person, or object, it is too late. Consistently reward your dog’s exemplary behavior.
Should your dog fail to respond to the command, put it back on the leash and keep it close for a minute. This is a signal to let your dog know it has made a mistake, and the result is a temporary loss of freedom.
Continue to test your dog in more crowded areas, but make sure to only test in an off-leash area. Always give the “Leave It” command at the first sign of interest and never when your dog is in the middle of a chase. Do not give your dog long to respond.
If your dog does not respond or seems to regress in training, go back to step one and start over. Do not grow annoyed with your dog during training . Some dogs are easier to train than others. It is okay to be firm but never yell at your dog.
What Happens If Your Dog Behaves Poorly After Training?
It is important to understand your dog does not have the reasoning skills of a human. If you are expecting perfection, you are going to be disappointed.
If your dog is not listening to the “Leave It” command and begins pursuing another dog or person, you must act quickly. Immediately work to secure your dog on a leash.
While unruly behavior can happen from time to time, it should not be the norm for your dog. If your dog cannot behave in public, avoid taking it out on public walks until the training results are fully acceptable. Remember, it can take time for some dogs to become trained. Do not compare your dogs to others. Keep consistently working with obedience training and rewarding good behavior and you will see a positive progression.
If you find your dog is truly unruly and gets away from you often, invest in one of today’s best GPS dog tracker collars to ensure your dog is trackable. By doing everything you can to train and protect your dog, you will act as a responsible owner.
Start Training Now
From a young pup to an older dog, there is always room for further training. The more training your dog undergoes, the better behaved it will be in public areas. The “Leave It” command is highly beneficial. You will find this training command to be indispensable when your dog is out walking or playing in public. It is especially important to teach your dog to leave things alone if it will be off a leash in public.
While the “Leave It” training command is more complex than a simple one like “Sit”, it is worthwhile. With this extensive training, you will no longer feel stressed when another dog or human approaches while you are out on a walk with your furry friend.