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"Street food" - instilling "Leave it!" while out on walks

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  • "Street food" - instilling "Leave it!" while out on walks

    Any tips on this?

    The kids near me cannot have a snack, it seems, without scattering it across God's half-acre. My dogs love this; if I'm not vigilant and prepared to steer them away from "danger spots", they'll quickly hoover up whatever the kids have spilled. Post-Halloween was SO much fun. Not. Over the years they've had Skittles, Cheez-Its, popcorn, and the odd Reese's mini (wrapper and all). I've been fortunate that no one's suffered any ill effects.

    There are always chicken bones at the bus stop located on one of our routes; I learned long ago to avoid that side of the road. And our trash guys can be sloppy sometimes - they don't always pick up anything that falls from the can.

    So. Mine know "leave it!" They'll drop something if I tell them to, which comes in handy for things like the larger bones they'll grab, or wrappers. But for something like Skittles, well, those are down the hatch before I can order them to drop it. And there are the smaller bone shards that scare the crap out of me.

    I know it's possible to train a dog to not eat anything unless it's offered by an "approved" person. I really, really want my guys to learn to ignore the "street food". Am I expecting too much from the average nicely-trained (but not perfect) house dogs?

  • #2
    If you have the dog "under orders", namely, heeling,and he's been fully proofed in the behavior, he shouldn't do ANYTHING else until you release him from heeling, so you should be able to just heel past the problem spots without having to watch out for food or go around shrieking "leave it" at your dog (frankly I think "leave it" has to be one of the most useless commands ever taught to dogs, it's kind of like NO, vague, negative, and completely redundant. Things work better when you tell dogs what TO DO rather than to tell them what not to do). Alternatives to "leave it": heel, come here, touch my hand with your nose, sit; dog can't be hoovering the ground if he's doing things on command.

    I suspect in your case, where the kids are going to be spraying food around, and the dogs have already learned the joys of floor-shopping it might be an uphill battle to teach no eating food off the floor.

    Put unattractive food on ground, if dog ignores it, feed dog good food from hand. Dog learns "if I don't eat the food on the ground mom gives me better food".

    most of the breeds taught to not-eat-food-from-strangers as part of guarding behaviors actually have some strong innate instincts about that- many a malinois owner, for example, will tell you their dog won't accept food from strangers period without any training whatsoever. In fact, I spent three years working on getting my malinois to accept a treat from a stranger and finally gave up. He'd pretend to accept them and then spit them out when I wasn't looking.


    • #3
      Zen training works well.

      Start in your home, and teach "Take it". I start by having some fabulous treats in my hand, and I just give them to the dog, one by one, telling him "Take it" each time and praising when he does. After a few minutes, I teach "Leave it" by holding that treat in my fist, tell the dog "Leave it" and absolutely not let him have that treat, no matter how much he noses at my hand. When he gets frustrated and looks at me, he gets praise and a different treat from my other hand, with the command, "Take it". I practice this pretty frequently. Dogs are usually pretty quick to look at me when they hear "Leave it" after one training session. Soon you can have an open hand, say "Leave it", and the dog will look for the alternate treat from you. Practice the difference a couple of times a day.

      The next level is to have the dog on lead, and toss something just out of reach, and say "Leave it". Proceed as above.

      Walk past the treat.

      Walk past a row of treats.

      Go somewhere new and train this, same steps. (Dogs are generally kinda specific about their learning. A new place is a new learning situation.)

      Soon, you will have a solid "Leave it".
      Don't tell me about what you can't do. That's boring. Show me what you can do. - Mom


      • #4
        An appropriate muzzle is the best way to keep them from eating stuff when walking them. While training seems like a nice idea on paper, it does not always or usually work with every dog or most dogs for that matter.
        Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!


        • #5
          Originally posted by LexInVA View Post
          An appropriate muzzle is the best way to keep them from eating stuff when walking them. While training seems like a nice idea on paper, it does not always or usually work with every dog or most dogs for that matter.
          Most? Really? I've never met an untrainable dog. Some are harder than others, but "Leave it" is pretty simple, especially when the dog is on a lead.

          Now, a solid-gold, off lead recall (ask me about the time I called back my Cavalier from duck chasing - go on - I'm proud of that!) is harder!
          Don't tell me about what you can't do. That's boring. Show me what you can do. - Mom


          • #6
            this. You CAN teach it.