Sunday Walk With Butter #1: Leave It & Take It

We have decided on a new segment (drum roll please) Sunday walks with Butter! We walk each weekend and this is a great time for us to work on training. When we have a specific focus she is better on the walk because she has her attention on me. I have a goal of choosing something that Butter needs to practice each week and we are bringing you along on this weekly journey.

Today we worked on leave it & take it.

Leave it: Do not touch, eat or engage in that item.

Take it: You may have this item and do as you please. 

In the video below you can see how we worked on leave it and take it while we walked. In the middle segment you can see that she does not pay attention to the dog barking across the street because I have her engaged.

I first taught Butter to leave it in a distraction free environment. I would present her with a treat in  a closed hand, wait until she took her nose away from the treat and reward her by giving her a treat from my other hand. I did use a clicker during this activity to quickly mark when she was leaving the item. I use a less motivating treat for the leave it hand, rewarding her with a more motivating treat when she left the item.

Once she would leave the item quickly, I would name this game with “leave it” when I rewarded her. As she got better, I would make it more difficult through opening my hand more and making the treat accessible.

To teach Butter to take it I would just say those words anytime she grabbed a toy, food off the floor or I gave her a treat. This was much easier to teach.

Leave it and take it are important to teach because it can help if Butter is ever trying to eat something that is not safe such as a pill dropped or gum in the park.

To work on leave it and take it on our walk I would take a piece of treat in a closed or open hand offering it to Butter and telling her to “leave it”. Once she would leave it I would say “take it” right away or after a wait time. We did this about 30-40 times on our walk today and she did great.

I then generalized it to real life through asking her to leave items we are walking past. After she would leave the item I would present a treat and tell her “take it”.

Remember to start by teaching your dog in a distraction free environment before attempting these outside to improve your success.