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Leave It

Leave It means, "Take your focus off of whatever you are currently interested in; Practice Self Control."

Step 1: Just Because You Know It's There, Doesn't Mean You Can Have It.

Begin by putting a treat in your hand. Close your fist over the treat and put your closed fist in front of your dog. You dog will likely lick, mouth, paw and nose your closed hand. Wait quietly. As soon as she backs off from your hand-either because she gets bored with it or in frustration, click and open your palm to give her the treat. It is important to deliver the treat to her, rather than letting her grab it as soon as you open your hand. Once your dog is immediately turning away from your closed hand as soon as you present it, move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Just Because You Can See It, Doesn't Mean You Can Have It.

Begin to present the treat with a slightly opened hand. Be ready to close your hand it your dog moves in to take the treat. As soon as they move away, open your hand a little bit. Click and deliver the reward when your dog is able to look at the treat without trying to take it. Once she is capable of leaving the treat alone from a cupped hand, practice with a treat on your flat palm. When she leaves the treat alone as soon as you put your open hand out, move on to Step 3.

Step 3: Just Because It Is On The Floor, Doesn't Mean You Can Have It.

Gradually lower your hand to the floor as you show your dog the treat on your open palm. Be ready to close your fist if she tries to take the treat. You may need to start with your palm out a couple of feet from the floor, then one foot from the floor, and then inch it down as she is successful at each level. Your goal at this step is to be able to rest your open palm on the floor, and then to be able to put the treat on the floor without her trying to take it. This is a difficult step for many dogs, but she will get it! When you can put a treat on the floor ten times in a row and she leaves it alone at least nine of those ten times (you will quickly cover the treat if she makes a mistake), you are ready to move on to Step 4.

Step 4: Just Because It Falls To The Floor, Doesn't Mean You Can Have It.

Starting an inch above the floor, drop the treat in front of your dog. Be ready to cover the treat if she tries to take it-the extra movement can be very tempting! As soon as she is consistently successful with a treat dropped from an inch off of the floor, begin to drop the treat from slightly farther off the floor. You goal at this step is to be able to drop a treat from the height of a counter and have her able to leave it alone. Click and treat as soon as she backs off of the dropped treat. Vary whether you give her the treat that dropped or a treat from your hand.

Step 5: Leave It in "Real Life"

Once your dog is successful at leaving treats, perform Steps 1 through 4 with other coveted objects such as toys and bones. Your goal is to help her understand that practicing self control in the face of temptation is rewarding. Eventually, you will be able to use your Leave It cue for roadkill, other dogs, squirrels, and other temptations.

When Should You Add the Cue, "Leave It"?

When your dog is over 90% successful at any of the above steps, you can say, "Leave It" just before you present the treat. By waiting until she is successful, you will be pairing the Leave It cue with the correct behavior. When you move on to the next step, wait to say "Leave It" until she is successful. A good rule of thumb is to wait until her response is solid enough that you would bet $20 that she will perform the behavior on the next repetition!