I had a great moment of dog training success this morning, and I'm eager to share it with you.
A month ago, I watched this YouTube video, "How to train a dog to 'Leave it.'" I've bookmarked this YouTube channel because it's been really helpful for me.
Since then, Olive and I have added "leave it" to our regular in-home practice sessions. Just as the video depicted, I started by putting a piece of her food on the floor, covering it, barely uncovering it so that she could see it, then clicking when she looked at me, and giving her a treat.
I slowly gave her more and more leeway to see the treat without me covering it too closely or hovering too closely. When she was getting the idea of the game, I started adding the command "leave it." But we've only really practiced "leave it" at home.
This morning when we went for a walk, I brought Olive's treat bag and clicker, which I hadn't done in a while. We've been busy and, while we've been doing training at home, we haven't spent as much time training out in the real world.
While we were walking, Olive obviously caught the scent of something and started dragging me to it. Soon I saw a bone lying on sidewalk. I kept her leash tight so she couldn't easily reach to the bone. I said "leave it" and she looked at me! I clicked and gave her a treat. Then I moved a step forward so she could reach the bone if she wanted to, but I had my foot ready to step on the bone if she lunged for it. She looked at the bone again, and I said "leave it." She looked up at me (away from the bone!) and I gave her a big jackpot of treats, dropping them in the opposite direction of the bone. Success!
Obviously, we need to do it more than one time to be a fully learned behavior, but I'd say we're on our way. And the treat bag and clicker are out of the closet and ready to make a regular appearance again!