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    14 - Teach the "off " or "leave" cue

    14 - Teach the

    It is never too early to start teaching a dog ‘off ’ or ‘leave’. This is a very important skill as there is nothing more irritating than a dog that bounces around jumping up at people or grabbing anything in his path. Your dog will quickly learn that this cue means he must remove his teeth or feet from whatever has taken his interest, which may include your favourite shoes, his leash, your hand, or the dining table, laden with the fruits of your culinary labors. It can also be used to stop your dog scavenging when out and about.

    1. Hold a treat between your finger and thumb. Offer it to your dog with the palm of your hand facing up and allow him to take it gently. Repeat this a few times. Say nothing at all.
    2. Offer another treat and as your dog moves forward to take it, turn your hand over and close your fist, making sure that your thumb is tucked inside. He will probably push at your hand, or he may paw it, but ignore this behavior. Keep your hand still and refrain from speaking to him or reprimanding him in any way.
    3. The moment your dog stops trying to gain access to the tidbit, turn your hand over, palm up and give him the treat.
    4. Repeat this process a number of times, making sure that you give more treats than you withhold. Remember to stay quiet.

    Allow your dog to take the treat you are off ering – as long as he is gentle

    If your dog pushes or paws at your hand simply ignore this behavior

    Add a verbal cue

    Most dogs quickly understand that a closed  st means that there is not any access to the food and that there is little point in pushing and pawing at the hand for the treat. Once your dog is consistent with this behavior, put in a quiet verbal cue. As you make a  st and turn your hand over to withhold the food, say whatever word you want to use. Make sure it is a word you feel comfortable with but not one you have used previously with an inconsistent response. Some people use ‘off’ as it is descriptive and it is unlikely to have been used before, while others use ‘leave’. Be patient, and avoid the temptation to add the verbal cue before your dog fully understands the required behavior

    Cookie backs off and sits politely waiting for her treat. What a smart Cookie!


    Extend the exercise by practising with toys. Initially, it is more effective to use items that allow you to turn your hand over and give the visual closed fist cue, like this toy on a rope.

    From 100 Ways to Train the Perfect Dog, Copyright by Sarah Fisher, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with D & C

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