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How do you reinforce a command such as 'leave it'

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Hi everyone.


So River is doing really well. She has just turned 1 & we are doing our best to manage and redirect her outburst of snaps.

From a very young age we taught her the 'leave it' command and she will respond & will leave the object/food/animal..whatever it may be, however 2 seconds later or when our backs are turned she is back at it. I am a dog groomer & work from home. It drives me crazy that she eats the fur that falls to the ground. Yes she will leave it when asked, but is right back at it the first chance she gets. She will drop the fur from mouth when asked & even lets me open & pull it from her mouth. I can only imagine the smells & flavours on random dog fur but also not only is it not healthy but it drives me crazy she wants to always eat fur & im always saying leave it!! I have tried numerous yucky tasting sprays, store bought & homemade. My next plan is apple cider vinegar..I just personally cant stand the smell of vinegar. I also avoid as much as possible fur landing on the floor, River gets crated or also goes outside.

So any ideas how to reinforce this command so we are not always telling her the same thing over or removing her entirely from the situation?


Also off the beaten track a bit. Do you think a dog who is crate trained is more likely to become protective of their space? Just interested. .thats all :)

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I feed them. No, seriously, I train leave it to start with by holding onto a pile of treats and not letting them have any until they back away. Then I put the treats on the ground and guard it - feed when they move away. Eventually it moves into the real world and the reward gets randomized, and I sure don't treat every single time, but when I'm teaching I absolutely shove food in their faces to make an association that moving away from something they want gets them something they want MORE/FASTER/EASIER.


All my dogs are crate trained. None of them are particularly protective of the space. They all like it, but we have no problem going in and grabbing bowls, they hang out in one another's crate and one sleepy morning resulted in a kitten being locked in the giant GSD mixes crate. With the dog. For 8 hours. So, yeah. Not mine, but maybe another dog?

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Yep, "leave it" is a command I try really hard to reinforce as much as I can so its very strong and overrides the desire to go back to it.


So if I drop food and they leave it, I pick it up and give them other food. If they leave something gross on a leash walk I treat as we walk away. If we are having an off leash run I always have a couple of treats in my pocket just for such occasions.


I want a dog who literally runs away from an object if I say leave it.


Worked on a both dead rat and some fallen fruit that was very attractive to the wasps in the field the other day.

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Rushdoggie is right.....a whole lot of reinforcement is the best way to train the Leave It. It is one of those things that I reinforce 99% of the time with a treat, so that the other 1% when it really matters and I do not have a treat with me, it will still be obeyed.


If, however, I had an issue like yours I would simply shut my dog out of the grooming area until I cleaned up the fur. I do not know why you are reluctant to do this. Why make it a struggle if you don't have to?


I have never heard of crate training making a dog more likely to defend a space.

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The only dogs I've ever been around that got protective of their crate was my grandma's toy poodle and my mom's wiener dog.


The poodle at age 14 she started rapidly deteriorating and was snapping because she was scared, blind and in pain, so she only felt safe laying in her crate and didn't want to be bothered. That is when we decided that her quality of life wasn't high enough to justify her suffering anymore.


The wiener dog was actually getting abused by someone else who was living in my mom's house without my mom knowing what was happening to the dog. When the dog came out it got hurt or yelled at, so it decided he was only safe inside the crate and would snap at people who tried to remove him.


So from my experience a newly space defensive dog likely has an underlying issue. It has nothing to do with the crate, but the fact that the crate makes them feel safe and secure and something outside of the crate doesn't.


Edit: I meant to add that every dog me and my family have ever owned was crate trained, which is 10+ dogs only those 2 started crate guarding.

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Thanks everyone. Yes, that is how we have trained her with this particular command..with higher priority treats most of the time. I thought maybe there was something else I could add.

And yes, because of the fur eating she is locked outside most the day and only really comes in on quiet days when I can work with her or when one of her friends come in or if a client wants to say hello.


Thanks for helping :)

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Agreed, and as for crate trained dog being possessive over their space, not at all. Poppy the elder dog in the house for some odd reason has decided that Gidgets crate is the perfect place for her to sleep during the day, Gidgets reaction to it was priceless! She looked at Poppy cocked her head so confused, then she put her head inside sniffed Poppy making sure she was ok, gave her a kiss then left her alone. For last few weeks here and there Poppy has taken naps in the crate when she feels like it, Gidget has not a care in the world about it. She goes in and out of it when Poppy is not using it, if Poppy is in it Gidget leaves her alone.


Honestly at first I was a bit worried that we may have a problem, but none at all.

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