“Ah! Ah!”, “Don’t”, “Leave It”, “No”, “Stop” (and worse)... are all words we hear everyday from clients desperately trying to stop their canine thief pinching food off the table, or in an attempt to stop Fido running off with their latest bounty (typically tea towels, shoes, socks or underpants!). Yet despite your best effort this doesn’t seem to deter the dog at all.
To solve this problem we would teach the dog a number of concepts, one of which would be a “leave it” cue; so when the dog approaches an item they shouldn’t have, the owner can simply say “leave it” in a nice gentle voice and the dog responds accordingly.
Step 1 Grab some treats in a closed fist
Step 2 Allow the dog to investigate to food
Step 3 Wait for the moment where the dog moves away from the hand
Step 4 Mark (YES!) and reward the dog with a treat from the hand
Then – and only then – when the dog completely understands how to behave, would we give it the name ‘Leave it’. At this point both the dog and human understand the expectations of the game. Avoid sounding harsh or confrontational or shout when using this cue, as your dog may see this as a threat and snatch the treat from you quickly if he fears your reaction.
A top tip! If your dog or puppy steals an item and runs off with it, be very careful not to turn this into a game. Many dogs love to be chased and if you’re not careful you can make the stealing behaviour much worse by chasing the dog every time they steal something.
If you need a hand with your canine criminal, as always, we are here for you.