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Karen B. London
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Leave It
The best cue for showing off with your dog

If a piece of hot dog or other delicious treat is on the ground and you tell your dog to “Leave It,” will your dog do as you ask or will he run to the food and snarf it up? If the answer is that your dog will eat the food, that is a shame for two main reasons: 1) If the food was spoiled, poisonous to dogs or simply fattening, you missed an opportunity to protect your dog from harm; 2) “Leave It” is easy to teach, yet one of those impressive cues that makes any dog look well trained.

 

I like having a dog who knows the cue “Leave It” because I can prevent my dog from eating something that could hurt him, because I enjoy having a dog who can do things that make other people think well of him, and because if I happen to drop something (like a whole steak!) while I am cooking, I don’t want to have to go the grocery store again just because I have a dog.

 

Here’s a video of Tyson, a Pomeranian who visits our family from time to time when his family travels. (They are a military family and sometimes duty calls on short notice.) When told to “Leave It,” Tyson does not go for the cheese I have put on the floor, even though that is one of his favorite treats. (He does, however, receive cheese from my hand to reinforce him for making the right choice.) He is showing how well he can “Leave It” after just a few lessons.

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Lindsay | April 8 2010 |

I enjoy reading up on different tips for home training and good behavior. I trained my pit bull terrier similarly, but she answers to "drop it" or "get out of there." She is constantly trying to eat things off the ground--inside and outside--but is getting better at listening to me telling her not to. Thanks for sharing your story, I think it's important to provide advice on blogs to those who may not have the resources to find it elsewhere, I often put tips on my blog too.

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