Your new Australian Labradoodle will need to learn a lot of basic commands: sit, stay, come, down, etc. Today we run through the basics of teaching your puppy the ever important “leave it” command. Not only will this command be a lifesaver through the teething stages, but it can also save your puppy’s life should he/she get a hold of something they shouldn’t play with.
Starting with the Basics
There are several ways to successfully teach the “leave it” command, but you need to start with the basics with your dog or puppy. Start with some treats in your hands or under your shoe. Once your puppy knows it is there, they will immediately want to get their paws on it! They will most likely like you, paw at you, or nibble at the toe of your shoe in hopes of finding their way to the treat.
Stay strong! Once your puppy retreats, it is time for you to give a name to that good behavior! A cue word (a simple “leave it” followed by “yes” or “good” will do) and/or a click of a clicker tells your dog that backing away from what he/she wants is a good behavior. Reward your treat with the opposite hand in which your treats were hiding. Never give your dog the treat that you were working with (the one in your hand or under your shoe).
Repeat for several days until your puppy seems to have gotten the hang of it!
Upping the Anty
Now it is time to test the waters with your puppy. Execute the same activity, but this time with an open hand and a treat in your palm. Once your puppy notices the treat, give them the “leave it” command. Most likely, your overly eager four-legged friend will want to snag that tasty treat, so be sure to close your hand if they make a move towards your palm.
Repeat the behavior until your puppy is no longer jumping at the accessible treat in your palm. Reward them with your marker word (again, one syllable words like “yes” or “good” are easy for your pup to identify) and give them a treat out of the opposite hand.
Time to Take This Behavior to the Real World
The next step in this training process is to put your puppy in situations where the “leave it” command will most likely be used. Place treats on counter tops, on the floor, wherever they might realistically find a new snack or chew-toy. Again, your puppy may want to try and snag that delectable snack so be on the watch for sneaky behavior! Repeat the same steps listed above until your puppy waits patiently and isn’t hyper-focused on the treat.
It is good for you to practice the “leave it” command at home at first, but then you should practice it everywhere! New rooms of the house, in your backyard, while out on walks, at the park, etc. Let your puppy work on this new skill with the same routine in unfamiliar environments. Continue the exercise until their behavior reflects the behavior you expect when you give the command. Just be sure to never reward them with the treat/item that they are trying to get!
As always, we highly recommend pairing up with a certified dog trainer to help you teach your puppy the commands they will need to be happy, healthy and safe. Don’t have a furry friend to practice these tricks with? Check out our available puppies tab to find your forever friend!