How to teach a 'leave it'

Teaching a ‘leave it’ using the errorless learning approach. This method works really well for lots of dogs - especially ones that tend to get frustrated quickly. Instead of using the classic trial and error method we can incrementally reinforce behaviours using a VERY HIGH rate of reinforcement to get the end behaviour we want - using nothing but positive reinforcement and allowing the dog to get things correct the whole time. The idea with this method is to build such a strong history of reinforcement with a specific behaviour that that behaviour becomes the default behaviour to offer. It’s quite a simple way to train things, you just have to go very slowly/at the dog’s pace to achieve it. The idea is that we go at their pace and gradually up the criteria so they don’t make a mistake - so in this example if I went too quickly and Poodle went for the food that would have been too much and an error would have occurred. Looking back at this video I did have to wait for the eye contact a few times. My criteria was to have Poodle looking at me instead of the bowl but in hindsight it would have been simpler if I just reinforced him for looking at the bowl. It’s still a leave it if he stares at the bowl and doesn’t take the food. The video was also about 26 minutes in total so I trimmed it down. Was just me repeating ‘good’ and reinforcing very slowly. This method works well for dogs that get frustrated easily. Because we are using a very high rate or reinforcement we can bypass that frustration because the dog is simply getting it ‘right’ all the time. The idea is to make sure you are set up to allow the dog to get things correct. As you progress, you can make things harder. So at the end of the 25 minute session I was able to say leave it and leave the room. This wasn’t a perfect session by all means. Looking back I probably even rushed this (to get a video) and would have ideally taken even more time to build a stronger history of reinforcement for eye contact. And next time, I will just reinforce the dog looking at the bowl. I don’t really need the dog looking at me (especially if I plan to leave the room again!).

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