Canine Manners 101: The Basics of the "Leave It" Command
This command is a must have in any setting, but especially when you live in the city. There are so many tempting distractions, from diners enjoying a luncheon in the park, to children playing with a tempting ball, to all the pigeons and squirrels that inhabit the city, to who knows what it is that is smashed on the sidewalk (but for some reason looks appetizing to your pooch!). Once your dog masters this command, you will be able to tell her to not chase that pigeon or eat that piece of trash.
The concept: Your dog will learn that not going for an item/object is rewarded!
Step 1: Take a high value treat and hold it in your hand. When your dog attempts to grab the food from you, close your fingers around the treat and ignore all her attempts to get the treat. Do not yell, scold or make any other movements, just stand perfectly still and wait it out. The very second that your dog stops trying to get the food from your hand - open it! Praise! She deserves the reward for settling down and "leaving it"!
Eventually (or quickly) your dog is going to start to understand that stopping the frantic behavior directed at something she wants is what gets her the reward. Lots of praise will help make this a fun activity.
If your dog simply will NOT stop trying to get the food, maybe she is a bit too hungry for this kind of exercise. Do not try this training exercise on an empty stomach - make sure your pup has eaten beforehand, so she isn't too frantic to get her treat.
Canine Manners 101 Training Series