Training a cocker spaniel to 'Leave It!' could one day save your little puppy from serious harm. Imagine all the nasties that an inquisitive puppy may pick up in his mouth, (such as the rotting carcass of a rabbit!). Read on to learn how to teach your puppy the 'Leave It!' and walk on by.
Training a Cocker Spaniel to 'Leave It' and walk on, is probably one of the most important things you'll ever teach your pet. I think you'll be surprised at how often you use it!
There are many situations inside your home where you might want to use this command. For example, your puppy is about to chew on an electrical cord, (yikes!) or you catch him making his way towards your best pair of shoes or your favourite handbag.
Outdoors, the command may be used to stop your puppy from approaching a young child, an injured bird, or drinking from a dirty puddle, eating spoiled and rotten food from rubbish
bins, or eating poisonous plants. The list is almost endless!
The 'Leave It'! command will stop him in his tracks. Your pup will learn that he's not to sniff, pick up, or bite what's currently caught his interest.
There are several progressive stages to training a puppy to obey this command and they're set out below.
Take each one a step at a time and don't rush move on only when you feel your puppy is ready.
Yes, I know it sounds contradictory, but trust me, it works. This will teach your puppy to understand when he is given 'permission' to have something.
Ready? Let's go!
When training a cocker spaniel puppy, be sure to reward him with lots of praise and pats as well as his treat when he gets it right.
This exercise will help your Cocker to link the words 'take it' with being allowed to have the treat (but only on your say so). He will begin to wait, anticipating your giving him the relevant instruction.
He may drool a little, but that's okay!
Once your puppy has fully mastered step 1, you can begin to train your puppy to 'Leave It!'.
Only move on to this step when you're confident that your pup has thoroughly learned step 2.
It's important to repeat this exercise often to strengthen your puppy's training and only move on to Step 5 when you feel he's ready.
Important Note: Always reward your dog with a treat from your other hand or your pocket to make sure he doesn't come to expect to be given the treat from the floor each time.
There will be many situations where this conditioning will come in handy.
For example, imagine your dog stumbles across a dead rat outdoors. You don't want to condition him to believe that he'll be rewarded with the rat because he obeyed your command!
Let's make it a little more difficult for him, shall we?
Use the 'Take It' command each time you give your Cocker Spaniel a treat, even if he's not 'in training'.
The final part of this training exercise is designed to teach your puppy to follow your 'Leave It' command whilst on a lead.
When your puppy has mastered the 'Leave It!' command indoors, it's time to take his training outside where there'll be lots of distractions and smells.
Your puppy is more likely to come across things you don't want him to pick up outdoors, so his training will be more realistic.
Repeat all the above exercises outside and practice them often and your puppy will be less likely to pick up that dead rat I mentioned earlier!
When training your puppy, it's important to take your time and to praise him when he gets it right. This will let him know that he's doing what you want him to do.
Don't reward your puppy if he gets it wrong. Instead, give him a 'verbal sign' that he got it wrong, for example, say 'No', 'Too Bad', or 'Ah Ah'. Use it every time he gets it wrong and he'll soon understand what's going on.
Don't get annoyed if your Cocker Spaniel gets it wrong. Don't shout at him, keep it low key and move on. Pick up the treat and try again in a few minutes.
The exercises on this page are also suitable to use for training adult dogs. The results may take a little longer to achieve, so you'll need to be patient.
But don't leave it there, you must continue training your puppy from time to time to strengthen his learning otherwise he may forget, and all your (and his) hard work will have been wasted.
Practice, patience and perseverance are the keys to successfully training your Cocker Spaniel.
Great! Your puppy now understands the 'Leave It!' instruction.
However, Cockers will be Cockers and sometimes it may be too late to give this command. He may already have something in his mouth that you don't want him to have, such as a dead rat!
Thankfully, your can teach your puppy to 'Drop It!'. Whatever he has in his mouth will fall to the floor, immediately.
Well, that's the plan!
Photo Credits for Training a cocker spaniel to Leave It!
1. Michelle De Kock at http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-cocker-spaniel-image24528056