Dog Wisdom Connection Blog

What If You Don't Say "Leave-it"?

Last week's training tip explained why teaching "Leave-it" is a really bad idea.  Here's a review of the 3 reasons not to teach it:

  1. It is contrary to a dog's instinctive awareness of his environment.
  2. It crushes a dog's self-confidence and creates anxiety.
  3. It undermines trust in your relationship because it may not be clear to the dog why you are punishing him.

Can I assume that you don't want to crush your dog's confidence, make him anxious, or undermine trust?

On the other hand, I know you do want to keep your dog safe from things that are dangerous or unpleasant.  Our beloved dogs are curious scavengers and predators by nature.  What is disgusting to us is often a delicacy to them! That might be why saying leave-it has become so common!

So if it's a bad idea to say "Leave-it" and yank on the leash, what should you do instead?

Fortunately, the answer is not a simple, quick fix.  That's right, I said ...

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3 BIG Reasons You Should Not Teach Your Dog "LEAVE IT!"

Dogs Are Naturally Curious 

(Don't miss your free gift at the end of this post!)

I know! I know! You've always believed that a "leave-it command" was necessary.  Honestly, so did I.  I even had a system for teaching it to my students in the past.

But because I'm so obsessed with how dogs' minds really work, I can't help but wonder how a negative reaction like "leave-it" from a trusted human affects them emotionally over time.  I'm talking long term results of repeated punishment for doing something that is totally normal and hardwired into what makes a dog a dog. 

Dogs are naturally curious.  They wouldn't have survived if they had been blind to the world around them.  Their environment triggers in dogs a need to investigate.  Dogs use their senses to navigate their surroundings and to verify the status of something new or unexpected.  Is it safe? Do I need to alert my humans by barking? Is it friendly? Can I eat it? Can I play with...

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