Keep in mind that leave it and drop-it are distinctly different commands. The goal of the leave it command is to steer your Border Collies attention away from any object before it ends up in his mouth, making it a proactive command.
A proficiency in this command will help to keep him safe from dangerous items, for example objects such as dropped medications, broken glass, trash, wires, chemical tainted rags, or that treasured item you spy your dog about to place into his mouth.
A simple “leave it” command can thwart those especially smelly, frequently dead things that dogs find irresistible and often choose to bring us as offerings of love and affection.” We all know that our dogs love to inspect, smell, taste, and in some cases roll in what they find. You can begin to teach the leave it command as soon as your dog recognizes his own name.
– Start with a treat in each fisted hand. Let him have a sniff of one of your fists. When he eventually looks away from the fist and has stopped trying to get the treat, click and treat, but treat your dog from the opposite hand that he sniffed. Repeat this exercise until he completely refrains from trying to get the treat from you, as evidenced by showing no interest in your fist.
– Next, open your hand with the treat, and show him the treat. Close your hand if he tries to get the treat. Do this until he simply ignores the treat in the open hand, known as the decoy hand. When he ignores it, click and give your dog the treat from the other hand. Keep doing this until he ignores the treat in the open hand from the start of the exercise. When you have reached this point, add the command “leave it.” Now, open the decoy hand, say “leave it” just once for each repetition, and when your dog does, click and treat him from the other hand.
– Now, put the treat on the floor and say, “leave it.” Cover it with your hand if he tries to get it. When your dog looks away from the treat that is lying on the floor, click and treat your dog from the other hand. Continue issuing the command “leave it” until your dog no longer tries to get the treat that is on the floor.
-For the next exercise, put the treat on the floor and say, “leave it,” and then stand up. Click and treat if he obeys. Now, walk your dog by the treat while he is on his leash and say, “leave it.” If he goes for it, prevent this by restraining him with the leash. C/T him only when he ignores the treat. Increase the length of time between the leave it command and the C/T.
Teaching your dog to leave it using a treat first, will allow you to work up to objects such as toys, animals, pills, spills, and even people. Once he gets the idea in his head that leave it means rewards for him, you both can eventually work towards more complex situations involving more difficult to resist items. Begin with a low value item such as a piece of kibble, then move to a piece of hard to resist meat, his favorite toy, another animal, or people.
– After your dog is successful at leaving alone the treat and other items, take the training outside into the yard, gradually adding people, toys, animals, and other hard to resist distractions. Next, head to the dog park, or any other place with even more distractions.
Remember to keep your puppy clear of dog parks until at least after his seventh week, preferably no sooner than his tenth week, and certainly only after his first round of vaccines. Some veterinarians and experts suggest even waiting until after the second round of vaccinations before your dog is exposed to other animals.
Continue practicing daily until your dog has this command down pat. This is another potential lifesaving command that you will use regularly during the life of your dog.
– At this point, you both can have some real fun. Try placing a dog biscuit on your pups paw, snout, or head and say, “leave it.” Gradually increase the time that your pup must leave the biscuit in place. Try this when he is in the sitting and other down positions. Have some fun and be sure to reward your dog the biscuit after he leaves it undisturbed. ~ Enjoy!
– Gradually phase out clicking and treating your dog every time that on command he obeys “leave it.” As with prior commands, begin gradually reducing treating by one out of two times, one out three times, then one out of four, five, six, and finally none. Remember not to decrease too quickly or it will undermine your training. Keenly observe your dog’s abilities and pace at all times. The goal is that your dog will obey all the commands without a reward, eventually with only a vocal or physical cue.
~ Paws On – Paws Off ~