Perfect Puppy Training Book – Chapter 6 – Basic Commands (Part 6)
Chapter 6 – Basic Commands (Part 6)
Puppies explore the world with their mouths. There may be days when you feel as if you brought a vacuum cleaner home rather than a puppy! They may pick up some items that are safe, some that may annoy you—and some that could hurt them. Your puppy won’t know the difference, so it’s important to teach her cues to keep her safe.
One of the most important cues that you can teach your puppy is “Leave it.” This is a preventive cue. It’s always best to prevent your puppy from getting hold of something rather than waiting until she already has it in her mouth. Every time she gets hold of something she’s not supposed to, she’s practicing that behavior. And that’s not something you want her to improve. Also, some items may be so dangerous that you don’t want your puppy near them at all in the first place. For example, if you spill something hot off the stove onto the floor, “Drop it” isn’t going to help your puppy. You want her to leave the spill alone altogether so that she doesn’t get burned. You may find that, with a growing puppy, “Leave it” is your favorite cue!
- Have treats in both hands. Your right hand will be your Temptation Hand—you’ll be showing your puppy the treat you have in this hand. Your left hand will serve as your Delivery Hand—you’ll give her treats with this hand.
- Hold your Delivery Hand behind your back.
- Hold your Temptation Hand right under your puppy’s nose and show her the treat in your palm. Let her see it, but don’t let her take it. Immediately close your hand into a fist so that she can’t get the treat. Give the cue “Leave it.” Don’t use a mean voice! This is information, not discipline. Use a friendly voice to train your puppy.
- Your puppy will sniff, lick, paw, and maybe even chew on your hand. Don’t say anything. Don’t repeat “Leave it! Leave it! Leave it!” over and over. Just wait it out. Be patient.
- Your puppy will eventually realize that she cannot get the treat out of your hand. She may sniff the ground to see if you dropped the treat. She may get distracted by a noise elsewhere, or she may just sit and look at you, puzzled. Just be patient—she will give up. The second she moves away from your Temptation Hand, for any reason, mark “Yes!” You are marking the very instant she leaves your hand alone.
- Immediately bring your Delivery Hand around and give your puppy a treat from that hand.
- Repeat this exercise several times in a row several times a day.
- Practice in every room of your home, especially your bathroom and kitchen, which are likely places you will drop things that you don’t want your puppy to get. Practice in your front yard and back yard as well, and have your puppy on leash so that you can control her distractions.
- When your puppy is quickly leaving your hand alone when you say “Leave it” and looking for the other hand to deliver a treat, it’s time to switch hands. Make your left hand the Temptation Hand and your’ right hand the Delivery Hand. Know that your puppy will initially be confused and may go back to licking or pawing at your new Temptation Hand. This is normal, because you’ve changed the rules of the game on her. Just be patient. She’ll learn!
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