Leave It Zed!

Posted by on Dec 5, 2014 in Walking Zed | Comments Off

Leave It Zed!

When you go to puppy training there’s one command that everyone learns in their first class that changes everything.

I took Zed to his first class feeling quite proud that we already had “sit”, “down” and “paw” (shaking hands) under our belt.  As soon as our teacher said “LEAVE IT” in a commanding voice I rejoiced!

You see Zed is an itsa-bitsa.  A little bit of this and a little bit of that.  Mostly English Staffy which accounts for the willingness to do almost anything for food – even if it’s the wrong thing, plus with a healthy dose of Labrador who are known for their great sense of smell and obsession with food.  Sadly I’m not convinced that Zed inherited the Labradors agile brain and what we have is a food obsessed hound who can sniff out a dropped chip from a hundred paces.

In fact his sense of smell is so good that he can smell that same chip three months later.  It’s either that or he’s hopeful that there’ll be another chip in exactly the same spot.  Either is possible.

Just a little nibble.....

Just a little nibble…..

So on any one of Zed’s walks you can hear me in a voice reminiscent of Kim Day-Knight from Kath and Kim saying “Leave It, Zed. Leave It.”  In some cases Zed will obediently step away from the <insert: dead bird, pizza, dog poo etc> and we continue on our walk.  On other occasions, Zed will need to be distracted with either a treat, a click of the fingers or a gentle tug on the leash.  If it’s something super whiffy then I’m required to drag him by the collar to a safe unwhiffable distance (around 100 metres) before he’s distracted by something else and we can continue along our way.

So why is the “Leave It” command so important?

Imagine that I drop some chocolate on the floor (Crazy idea!).  I want to know that Zed won’t pounce on it, eat it and wind up at the vet.  In Australia, a visit to the vet = $$$$.  A simple “Leave It” will mean that I can retrieve the chocolate and put it out of harms way.  Like my own stomach!

So what do we do when it’s our own Black Dog (BD) that has pounced on something or become obsessed by a “smell”.  It might be a sad thought, something someone said, an event in the future that may or may not take place.  If you’re a BD owner then you know what I am talking about.  The BD seizes on that thought and won’t be dragged away from it no matter how much you tug on the leash.

Being able to say “Leave It” and have your BD drop the thought and move onto something else reduces the chances of plunging deeper into our thoughts and spiralling lower and lower.  Here are some useful tactics for teaching your BD to “Leave It”:

1) Recognise when your BD has caught the scent of something and in a firm voice say Leave It.  Following up the command with positive thoughts can also be helpful.  For example; if you’re preparing for a presentation and your BD begins to sniff around say Leave It, followed by “I’m have prepared for this presentation and I’m ready for it.”

2) Distract your BD.  If the command alone doesn’t work, take a couple of minutes and watch a funny video, check your FB or post something on Instagram.  Make it short and quick.

3) If all else fails, get up and go and do something that requires action and thought.  This might be talking to a colleague about something completely different or going to the gym for a work out.

The more you practice the better trained your BD will become.  You’ll be able to recognise the signs much faster and you’ll be able to head him off before he gets out of hand.