Teaching a Cute Dog to Leave it to Stop His Eating of Inappropriate Items

By: David Codr

Published Date: July 28, 2018

For this Los Angeles dog training session we taught 8 month-old French Bulldog / Maltipoo mix Stanley the leave it command to stop him from eating things that aren’t good for him.

Stanley greeted me at the door, showing good confidence but not so great manners in terms of jumping up on me a few times. I refrained from petting or engaging with him when he did this but did try to pet him as soon as he got down or sat down. This was a common theme that I used throughout the session; teaching the guardian to engage and reward the dog for desired actions and behaviors and stopping immediately anytime the dog offered behaviors that were undesired. I like to call this light switch on, light switch off.

During the session, Stanley got into the dirt of a potted plant a few times. Observing this behavior, I’m pretty certain it is result of him being bored. This led to my observation that there were not very many appropriate dog toys in the room. Dogs are going to chew, especially puppies. You can decide what they chew on by providing them with appropriate chew items, or they can decide. In my experience, I found the dogs usually select more expensive things to chew on.

After discussing the situation with his guardian, it became clear to me that he was under exercised and confused about his role in the home. I shared a number of dog behavior tips such is the importance of structure, how to reward desired actions and behaviors and how to pet him with good timing to train him to offer unusual behaviors as well as those that are also desired.

When Stanley brought me a dog toy, I pulled out a treat and showed the guardian how to get him to drop it. This is an important first step anytime you have a dog that likes to take inappropriate items. The more you try to physically take it from the dog for chase them to get it, the more the dog will engage in this behavior.

By using positive dog training, I was able to get Stanley to start automatically dropping whatever was in his mouth quite easily. I would like to see his guardian focus on using the same technique when Stanley has low value items for the next week or two. This will establish a good behavior pattern and will make it easier to get him to drop anything that might be hazardous for his health in the future.

I suggested the guardian increase his daily exercise and look for creative ways to exercise him such as using an ifetch, chasing the laser around the room, scent games, etc. I also would like her to interpret Stanley’s habit of getting into trouble as his way of saying he is bored and needs some exercise or mental stimulation. If the guardian keeps an exercise journal and annotates these unwanted behaviors along with their times, she should be able to come up with a formula that stimulates Stanley and prevents him from getting into trouble.

Next I showed the guardian how she can teach her dog the leave it command. Training a dog to leave it is important as dogs and puppies can get into things that aren’t good for them. Additionally it provides the human with a useful vocabulary which allows better communication between guardian and canine.

By practicing this leave it exercise a few times a day for the next week or two, and progressively extending the length of time the dog is asked to leave the thing alone, his guardian can help him develop more self-control and the ability to verbally disagree with this behavior in the future.

Later in the session, we headed outside for a walk so that I could show the guardian how to use a Martingale collar to stop Stanley from pulling on the leash.

After heading back inside, it was time for Stanley to eat so I demonstrated how the guardian can add a little bit of structure to mealtime to help him build up more respect for her as an authority figure. Eating is a super important activity for dogs so adding a bit of structure to this repeating activity can go a long ways towards helping a dog see a human as a leader.

By the end of the session, Stanley was listening better, offering a sit as a way of asking for attention, dropping things immediately and looking to his guardian for direction.

To help the guardian remember all of the dog behavior secrets I shared in this in-home dog training session, we shot a roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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