Monday, March 22, 2010

Labrador Retriever Training - "Leave It" Command

An important command to teach your Labrador Retriever is the "Leave It" command. By having your Labrador Retriever learn this command, you can use it in a variety of situations, some which may even may be life-threatening to your Lab.

People use different methods for teaching the "Leave It" command, what works for some doesn't work for others. This is the method we use and feel is the easiest when training your Labrador Retriever.

We use "Leave It" as our command but I know many other people that use other key words for the command such as "No Touch" or "Ignore It." Use the command you feel comfortable with but be consistent with the same command (don't start training with one word and then change the word half-way through the training).

Before you get started, you are going to need some dog treats. We like to use what I call a High Value treat, something that your Labrador Retriever absolutely loves or a special treat that you know you Labrador Retrievers goes crazy for but they rarely get it!

1. Start by taking your Labrador Retriever to a place free from distractions and kneel down in front of your Labrador Retriever.

2. Have your Labrador Retriever sit, place the dog treat in your open hand and extend your hand out towards your Labrador. When your Lab reaches to get the treat, quickly close your hand. You will probably get some weird look from your Labrador Retriever, along with some sniffing and licking of your hand. Wait until your Labrador Retriever withdraws their interest, praise them and give them the treat. If your Labrador is really persistent and determined to get at the treat in your closed fist (some will be very persistent), just hold it out of their reach and ignore him.

3. Continue practicing step 2 multiple times, praising and rewarding them when they lose interest. We are now ready to add our "Leave It" command.

4. Show your Labrador Retriever the treat and then close your hand. State the "Leave It" command and wait for your Lab to stop showing interest. When they do, praise and reward them. Keep using the "Leave It" command to help build the association in your Labrador's mind between you stating "Leave It" and the act of them leaving the treat alone.

5. Repetition, consistency and praise are keys here!

6. When your Labrador Retriever understands the behavior and it's on your command, it will be time to add other variables to the training. Add some or all of these variables to the training slowly:

* Put your dog treat on the ground a few feet in front of your Labrador Retriever and state the "Leave It" command. If your Lab goes after the treat, cover it with your foot. If your Lab doesn't go for the treat, pick it up and reward them for waiting. Repeat until your Labrador Retriever fully understands.

* Practice the "Leave It" command moving your hand to different positions (higher in the air, lower to the ground).

* Practice in a more distracting environment (with other dogs, people, noices).

* Practice with different objects.

Things to remember:

* Start in a distraction free environment.

* State your command in a nice firm voice. There is NO need to get louder and louder with your commands if your Labrador Retriever does not perform the task. This just won't work.

* Make sure your training sessions are short and sweet.

* As I consistently preach with all training, Repetition, Consistency and Praise are keys.

Happy Training!

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Sandra April 01, 2010 4:26 AM  

Thanks for the nice post :) It seemed so easy to do when you read it but I know it takes a lot of patience to achieve success in training. Thanks again ;)

Shannon - 8 Paws Up April 09, 2010 8:51 AM  

Wonderful information! Given that Labrador Retrievers are prone to put their mouths on everything, the "Leave It" command is crucial to training and keeping them safe. We have been using this command for many years and both of our own Labs now won't touch something without our approval. Great guide!

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