Leave it. A puppy who understands this has the foundation for good manners and reliable control.
Every puppy obedience task is built on the leave it command. To heel well a puppy needs to learn not to pull towards things it is interested in. A long, reliable, stay cannot be accomplished unless the puppy understands the leave it command.
Teaching the leave it command without using punishment is vital to building a trust relationship with a puppy. We use a step by step shaping method.
- We sit on a mat with a toy and play with a puppy. This engagement builds a bond with the puppy. This engagement increases the value of play with you. You become more exciting than the environmental distractions.
- As the puppy plays, after about 5 – 10 sessions, start giving the puppy the opportunity to become distracted then ‘engage’ them and bring their attention back to you. Repeat this, making sure the ‘play times’ and engagements are longer than the distractions.
- Remember that puppies get tired. Do not extend the period of engagement more than 2 or 3 minutes. Take the puppy for a walk. Throw a ball. Give the puppy a treat or a drink of water.
- Do 3 reps each training session. A puppy cannot handle more. You may do several training sessions a day, but keep them short, and limit them to 3 reps if you are working with a puppy.
- Every 4 – 5 days increase the number of distractions and the strength of the distractions. The relationship you have with your puppy, the breed, and how the puppy was raised will determine how well, and how fast your puppy learns.Do not try to force your puppy to learn as fast as other puppies. The objective is to train your puppy to focus on you. You want to trust your puppy, not worry about how fast your puppy learns. Worry about how well your puppy focuses on you.
- Try not to punish the puppy. Do not let your puppy misbehave. Control the situation so the puppy doesn’t bite or jump. If the puppy gets too excited then end the session. Teach the puppy that you will play with it while it behaves.
- If your puppy looses interest then you are pushing too hard.
Try hard to avoid punishment. A puppy does not understand. You are conditioning the puppy to focus on you. Later we will combine the ‘leave it’ with other commands, like ‘look’ to shape more advanced behaviors.
If you want a puppy to learn something then repeat it, 100x. This is how puppies learn. Punishment can make some puppies fear, which stops the learning process.
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