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teaching "leave it" ?

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an obedience question for you all...this might be obvious, but please bear with me :)


we've been doing basic obedience with Callie, 10 month old border collie, sit, stay, down, leave it. we've had her for about two months and she's been wonderful!


but she seems to be developing a bad habit. today, while my boyfriend and i were watching a movie [not paying her a ton of attention] she went rummaging through our recycling and pulled out an old toilet paper roll, struts over with it in mouth. boyfriend said "leave it" and she did immediately. then, not five minutes later, she picks up a whole roll of toilet paper, takes it off the shelf, brings it to us [looks quite pleased with herself] boyfriend says "leave it" she does, but sits there expectantly, waiting [i think] for the treat that she gets whenever we practice leave it.


so, clearly we need to be more vigilant and keep thinks out of her reach. but how do we train a reliable leave it, without giving her the expectation that every time she does it she is automatically rewarded with a treat/attention? and i suppose "leave it" is the wrong command. what we asked her to do is more of a "give"...hmm, please help!

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hahaha! What a smart pup! I used to be a zookeeper and we trained the Chimpanzee's to "Trade" items they found in the exhibit or things that people threw in the exhibit for skittles.....It didn't take long for them to spend most of their day looking for stuff to trade.


Really there isn't a way to teach a dog what to leave alone other than, correcting getting into bad stuff and rewarding playing with good stuff.


If you do not want her to bring you things so she can get rewarded for a leave it, then don't reward her for bringing you stuff, take it away without even giving her a command, make it very boring for her to bring you things that you don't want her to bring. If there is no nothing rewarding about bringing you things she will eventually stop doing it.

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She's still super young and kind of at that age where she loses her mind every once in a while, lol.


I taught leave-it with a click and treat method. First I started with a treat in the palm of my hand and presented it to Brady, when he went for the treat I closed my fist. If he turned his head, I clicked and treated him from the opposite hand--I wanted to mark the behavior of him removing his attention from the treat. After a few repetitions of him getting it 100% of the time,I introduced the "word": leave-it. Rinse and repeat before I moved on to putting the treat on the floor and doing the same thing: covering it with my hand if he tried to take it and if he turned his head away I clicked and treated. From there, I moved on to dropping it from standing, same process. Just eventually worked up to being able to leave a plate on a low table and walking out of the room. So far it's worked really well and he knows to divert his attention if he's told to leave-it; it's called him off squirrels and cats a number of times now. It just took an absurd amount of work, lol.


Also, I worked with Susan Garrett's "It's Yer Choice" game. It helped loads Now I can pretty much throw food in his face ( not that I ever would ) and he'll ignore it until I say ok.

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Oh yeah. She is still young, and you are probably in for another year or so of this type of behavior. :D


I have taken a couple of approaches:

Like Carla said, one is to just remove the object from her mouth without saying anything - very matter of fact - and then ignore her. But be ready that she could still be very persistent in her attention-getting behaviors even with the lack of interaction from you. She probably has energy to burn.


I have also given my dog a kibble-dispensing toy or a Kong with canned food or PB spread inside at times (dinnertime) when I don't want to be bothered. Since I usually knew ahead of time when I wanted him to be quiet, I would prepare the "treat toy" in advance and give it to him when we started dinner. I realize this method doesn't address training the correct behavior, but my feeling is that they are still young and a little distraction will save my sanity. My dog grew out of needing the distraction at around 2 years old.


If you feel that she has had enough exercise for the day, I don't see any harm in crating her with a chew toy for a couple of hours while you do what you need to do (dinner, movie, homework, cleaning, whatever).



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thanks all for the advice!


Carlasl- that sounds like an interesting job! do you still work in that field? and yes callie is very smart :P


Gcv-border- most days i think she gets enough exercise. we usually walk her 4 miles a day...1/2-1 mile is usually a jog. we don't have a yard and i wish she had more unstructured off leash outdoor time. how much exercise do you think is enough?


Brady's mom- It's yer choice--our obedience instructor taught that a few classes ago and i had forgotten about it until you mentioned it- i'll definitely work that with her- i love that game! yay for impulse control!

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I'm not sure but 10 months old may still be a bit young, with bones and joints as yet forming, for 4 miles a day, including 1/2 to 1 mile of jogging. Others here are much more familiar with what is suitable for a growing youngster of differing ages and, of course, the surface you exercise her on can also be important (pavement versus grass).

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