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KobiD

Leave it

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KobiD   

I have a quick question

 

Our 7 month old pup knows leave it, and drop it, but it isn't entirely generalised.

 

The problem I am having is when we're out on a walk. At the moment there are a load of earthworms that have come out onto footpaths or the road and dried up. Puppy thinks these are a delicious trail snack. We've been working with them where I point one out, cover with my foot and mark and reward as she pulls away. Rewarding when she grabs one and drops it on her own too. The problem is the sheer number of them!! I can't control the resource to the extent that she doesn't self reward. Once she has one 'drop it' is worthless. It's down the hatch before I can even say it in most cases.

 

I don't want her to feel that she can eat whatever she wants when we're out on walks either, so would like her to work towards being able to ignore things until released to have them. In saying that it's a hard thing to train while we're training loose leash walking and there are treats getting scattered everywhere with her being encouraged to pick them up.

 

Thoughts welcome.

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KobiD   

No suggestions?

 

She continues to gutter scavenge and there is little I can do to stop it when it happens. She values these worms a lot. IE there could be another dog behind a fence barking at her, me on the other side with treats, and her preference will be to eat the worms out of the gutter! Live moving ones don't interest her as much as dead dried ones. 

 

I tend to walk her before breakfast/dinner to try and keep her food motivation up.. Perhaps that is also driving the scavenging up. Might try feeding a little before leaving for a stroll and see if she's more content. 

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Roova   

I don't know enough to offer a decent suggestion sorry.  All I can think is I would be careful using 'leave it' if she's in a position to ignore you as it will make the command lose all meaning. I do know dogs don't generalise well though, they perform a behaviour which gets them something at the time and I think they tend to know what you let them do and what you don't. 

 

Are you working on heel?  I would be inclined to put her in a heel in these locations so she can't stop, sniff and eat delicious dried worms as she pleases lol.  Heeling takes a bit of concentration as its not something they may naturally want to do so. You can at least choose various parts of the walk to let her go loose lead if you wish but you can control where and when.   Good luck!  

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KobiD   

I hear you and I agree. I don't often say leave it, unless if I am almost certain I can ensure she follows cue. We stop at particular worms and I train leave it as you would normally. She's bang on when we do that! As she is with normal food. She understands I have requested she leaves this particular thing. She focusses at me awaiting further instruction. If it were treats I'd often release her to have it though, so there is some variance in that we are exchanging worms for treats and moving on. 

 

It's more that she may see an opportunity and take it. One worm!! Yum! I haven't been quick enough to enforce a leave it, and she's got the taste for them and then once she's looking she realises how many more there are ripe for the picking. I can break her out with a sit. And I can get her moving along again with positive rewards and not necessarily a formal heel, but a focussed closer walk. But sooner or later she's ready to extend the lease some more and get back to walking and sniffing and enjoying herself, and not much longer until she's found another source of protein!! 

 

I don't see it as a huge issue, and it doesn't really impede our ability to go for a walk, but it's similar to when she catches the scent of another dog etc. She wants to go and see and investigate, and with that I would ask for behaviours and then allow the go sniff building a behaviour which self rewards on my terms. With the worms she's building the value but I don't really want her eating whatever she finds in the gutter. 

 

Fww, she is very food motivated. The only thing I've seen her not eat is a piece of raw broccoli, but she still tried a few times! 

 

I think it's a combination of how I distribute the treats through the walk, and lack of generalisation. I toss them on the ground to keep her moving and break her from getting infront too often. This encourages her to both follow visually, by nose, and pick them up off the ground. I could move to rewarding from the hand, but it's not as natural feeling and she often will bump her teeth against my hand when taking them (only due to the forward movement, not by snatching). 

 

With the generalisation she doesn't get that leave this worm means leave all the worms. And with her leave it on items that aren't food Ie playing with things she shouldn't in the shed etc she thinks leave it means OK! I've left it.. 3 seconds later! I must be allowed to have it now! So really a significant difference between a formal leave it, and one applied in every day life, with greater distractions and less intent focus. As you'd expect with a 7 month old dog. More work required. 

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I'm not sure if this is right, but it's more or less what we did.

Since my dogs know leave it in other circumstances (ie accidentally dropped food or waiting for their dinner bowls) if I am walking and there is something on the ground they try to sniff/eat that they shouldn't (like sniffing dog poo, eating chook poo, a dropped chocolate ice cream etc) I will just say "leave it", and keep on walking and they will have to come with me (which I rewarded at first) and won't have a chance to grab the worm or poo or whatever. 

You can practice in the backyard.

Practice Loose Leash or Heel with distractions set up at a certain distance where they aren't quite able to reach it on leash (e.g. A bowl with a few bits of low value treat, some kibble crumbs in the grass (smelly), or just some kibble scattered on the grass. Then practice LL walking or Heel and ignoring the yummy things, reward with much higher value treats. 

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KobiD   

Thanks for the reply, and that is what we have been doing. As above, in training scenarios she is right on. If it's a single item on a walk that I can see clearly I can redirect and reward. The issue here is that the earthworms are everywhere.. It's not one to two. Standing stationary you can look around and easily count them. It's from the moment we walk out the driveway, and scattered all around the place. For me to remove her from them, I would have to stop walking her... however her loose leash walking is good in the yard and needs to be generalised out and about. Also actively working on impulse control to other people, dogs and cats in public spaces.

 

It's not so much that she is unable to be walked due to the distractions.. honestly she does great, but every now and then she'll get a taste for them, and she doesn't even need to try and pull to get her fix. Moving her on doesn't work because moving away from the distraction just moves you towards more.


After writing this, I think my best method may be that once she's off task and seeking worms to try and bring her focus back on me. Play some targetting games, look etc and then once reset maybe try again. I have been doing this too, but due to the quantity it's never too long before she spots another one and sucks it up before I even have a chance to try and give a cue or block the behaviour. The only thing I can try is a quick leash correction to move her head back from the food source. 

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Ahh ok. Tricky situation. If worst comes to worst you could get her a little light muzzle, or on Etsy they sell "Smuzzles" which are soft mesh muzzles which don't look 'mean', are comfy & allow them to pant and drink water, but they can't eat through them. They were designed for a dog who had an obsession and would eat naughty things while the owners were out (like rubber or stones, and actually ingest them). I was contemplating getting one for Monty to stop him eating things in the yard (macadamias which are poisonous, mulberries, lilli pillies etc.) 

http://smuzzleme.com/

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KobiD   

I'll probably ride it out I think managing as I have been. It's likely just the current weather which is drawing the worms out of the soil. It's only really been the last week that it's become an issue.

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