This is a cue that comes in handy when you come across that gross dead thing on the street that your dog thinks is so very tasty. This cue is only as strong as you make it with practice and patience. This is a choice for the dog, if you make your dog do it the cue becomes weaker, but you will find that your dog will want the object more. Let’s turn the tables and set the dog up for success from the very start.
To begin you will need a stock pile of good treats, made into small pea sized bits, a bland cookie, milk bones do best, and your verbal marker or clicker. Sit on the floor with your dog or in a chair if you’re opposed to getting onto the floor and place the bland cookie in your closed fist. Present it to the dog and wait. Yes, that’s right wait. Wait for the dog to back off from the fist. Do not pull your hand away, scold the dog, or bop him on the nose. It’s a choice remember. As soon as your dog backs off of your hand, mark it with your verbal marker or clicker and treat with the other hand. Begin the sequence again by presenting the bland treat in the closed fist again. Mark and reward (m/r) when the dog backs off. What about the cue? When do we add the cue? You will add the cue when your dog is doing the behavior - in this case backing off the treat - quickly. Add your cue word - we’ll use Leave It - as you present your closed fist to the dog. When the dog backs off mark and reward. Do a few more repetitions and take a break.
Begin your next session with a review. Present the bland treat in the closed fist, mark and reward when your dog backs off. Now it’s time to raise the bar. Present the treat, but this time with your fist open. When the dog goes to grab the cookie close your fist. As soon as the dog backs off reopen, close if he goes for it again, reopen when he backs off and so on. The dog will finally give in and back off from the open hand because there is no way he’s going to get the cookie, this is when you mark and reward. Remember to only say your Leave It cue once when you first present your hand, the rest is a waiting game. Don’t forget it has to be the dog’s choice, so be patient.