Dog distractions can be incredibly frustrating if you don't know what to do. How can you possibly train a dog to leave a chicken bone on the ground, or leave a dog alone? If you ever feel frustrated, the main strategy is to pay attention to your dog's tendencies and go more slowly if he can't perform at the beginning distance.
Here are the steps to work on with your dog:
- Start with your dog on leash, inside
- Use a 6 foot leash
- Put a treat on your floor 10 feet away
- When your dog shows interest in the treat, say, "Leave it" ONE time
- If he doesn't turn around immediately, make a little noise with your mouth until he turns around
- Say, "Yes!" or 'click' and then give a treat
- Repeat this four or five times
- Then, simply stand there and wait until he turns around on his own and 'click' and treat
The goal is that your dog looks at the distraction and turns around automatically. If you do enough repetitions, your dog can look at the distraction and after a quick reminder, "leave it" will learn that the object is off-limits.
When you start to see automatic responses, start adding movement to the exercise. Walk your dog near the treat, making sure that he does not grab it. At each pass near the treat, slow down or stop moving and wait and see if your dog turns around on his own. If he doesn't, remind him with a "leave it". Make sure you reward each time he turns around, and an extra special reward when he turns around on his own. You can pause for a period of time and simply wait for his response. Be patient and see if he can figure it out.
After you become proficient with the treat, put down other distractions such as toys, bully sticks, bones or other distractions. Then, you can work with dogs outside, people that he loves, etc.
The key is to be patient and consistent. When you say, "leave it" make sure you only say it once.
Let me know if you have questions.