How to teach a puppy or adult dog the leave it cue using Positive Reinforcement.
Below are the 4 Steps that are covered in the video.
Put extremely low value food down on the ground. Move far enough away that your dog can easily look away from the food and back at you. Mark and feed your dog for choosing to look away from the food. If your dog doesn’t think to look away from the food on his own you can use an attention noise. If he still can’t look away from it, it means the distraction is too hard. If this happens use a lower value distraction or create distance from the distraction. When your dog looks away from the distraction you can mark and reinforce multiple times. This will make it less likely for the dog to feel like he needs to keep looking at the distraction and will make it easier to add duration to the leave it cue.
Change things up. Move the location of the distraction, use a different distraction and approach and pass it from different angles.
Step 3 Add the cue
Once your dog is looking away from the distraction within 3 seconds you can add your cue. Move the distraction or change your location to get the dog to notice the distraction again. Then say your cue ‘leave it’. Mark and reinforce your dog for turning back toward you.
If the dog doesn’t look away from the distraction, stop saying your cue until the behavior is reliably happening within 3 seconds. This will help create a cue that the dog responds to promptly after you say it.
Continue to generalize the behavior and add criteria.
If the dog goes for the distraction more than 3 times in a row it means the criteria is too high and the training will not be as affective as if you break up the steps into smaller approximations, such as working from further away or using an easier distraction. When the dog is off leash for the first time, go back to using the easiest distraction.
You could allow the dog to get the distraction on a release cue such as “Get it”, however if you do this it can lead to the dog anticipating being released as well as getting more excited during the training process because of the fast movement of going for the food. I suggest not to do this during initial training. If you want to give the dog the distraction, pick it up and hand it to him.
Some ideas for generalizing the behavior:
Turn away from the distraction and come back to you
Walk past the distraction with you
Walk around the distraction with you
Call the dog past the distraction to you
Here are links to the video tutorials mentioned:
The attention noise –
The attention game – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiziN7mluz8
The leash pressure game- Puppy version – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKG89GVOJiM
Adult version –
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