As mild-mannered and gentle as the Golden Retriever is, all dogs have a bit of a mischievous side at times. If your Golden Retriever sees something he wants, he won’t hesitate to do what is necessary to get it. Sometimes that means digging through the trash, jumping up on the kitchen table, or taking a toy away from your child. The most effective way to deal with these behaviors is to teach your Golden to follow a “Leave It” command. Why is the “Leave It” Command Useful?
The way dogs explore their world and learn about new things is by using their mouths – this is why puppies have a tendency to chew on anything and everything. Though this behavior is most common in puppies, older dogs do it as well and it can lead to some unpleasant situations if your dog gets something nasty in his mouth and you have to try to take it away. Whether your dog is chewing on something he shouldn’t have or eating something he shouldn’t be, getting the item away from him can be tricky – especially if your dog thinks he is playing a game of keep away. The easiest way to get something away from your dog without having to chase him all over the house is to teach him the “Leave It” command. This command can work to stop your dog from chewing on something that isn’t a toy, to keep him from eating something potentially harmful, or even to stop him from exhibiting an undesired behavior. It is all just a matter of training. Teaching Your Dog to Leave It
There are a number of different ways you can go about teaching your Golden Retriever a “Leave It” command but the ultimate goal is to have your dog transfer his attention from the object of his desire to you when you issue the command. To do so, start by holding a treat in one hand with your palm up and hold it in front of your dog until he notices it. When he does, immediately say “Leave It” and close your fist then turn it upside down. Your dog will probably nudge at your hand and try to get at the treat – let him do this for as long as it takes for him to get bored. As soon as he turns his attention away from the treat (ideally wait until he makes eye contact with you), tell him “Good dog” and give him the treat as a reward.
Repeat this training sequence in this order until he consistently responds to the “Leave It” command by turning his attention away from the treat. The next step is to repeat the sequence without closing your fist so your dog can see the treat. After your dog masters this phase you can start putting the treat on the ground in front of you, moving it closer to or further away from your dog to reinforce his obedience to the command. Eventually you may even be able to place the treat on your dog’s nose and have him wait for you to say “okay” until he eats it.
Once your dog masters the “Leave It” command you can use it in a variety of different situations to redirect your dog’s attention from something he shouldn’t be eating or doing. You can also use the “Leave It” command to stop your dog if he is exhibiting an undesired behavior like playing too rough. Use the command in a variety of different situations so your dog learns to give you his attention each and every time you use it.
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