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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am working both my dogs through Doggy Zen and with one I am needing to understand how to apply the name 'Leave It' to the action.

This is in step 8 in Doggy Zen, so it makes sense, I have included steps 6-8. When do I say 'Leave It'? How many times should I reinforce 'Leave It' before the dog knows it?

Doggy Zen Step 6

Hold a treat in both hands.
As you are feeding the dog with one hand, drop the other treat on the ground.
As this is difficult for everyone except the most coordinated people in the world who use a clicker, unless you have a second person to click, use a marker word.
If the dog grabs the treat off the ground, do not feed the treat in your hand, just do it again.

Doggy Zen Step 7

Drop the treat first, then feed from your hand, then pick up the treat and feed the dropped treat.
Increase the duration of the “stay”, but don’t cue the dog to stay to a count of 5.

Doggy Zen Step 8

This is the same as step 7, except wait for the dog to look at your face before you hand feed the treat, then pick up the other treat.
And it’s time to name it. “Leave it” is the most common name used, “mine”, “not yours” are also common names. It doesn’t matter what you name it as long as it is something you will say consistently, so make it something familiar and easy for yourself.

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For me, it was when Wally did the behavior similar to step 8 consistently without any hesitation or other behavior offered.

It went like:

I put the treat some where he could get it if he wanted.
He looks as I place it.
I say "Leave it" as my hand moves away and he's still looking at it.
I mark and reward when I see him lift/turn his head away from the treat and he's looking at me steadily (no turning back to the treat, etc).

I didn't use the exact steps you're using, but that sequence seems close to step 8.

The "general rule" for naming a behavior (applying the command name) is when the dog performs the behavior correctly, consistently, and quickly. That shows he's got an understanding of what's going on, and with that, you can tell him what the thing he's doing is called (applying the command name). Give the name before the dog actually does the behavior so that it goes:

Name -> Behavior from dog -> reward marker and treat.

That's why it's usually best to wait until the dog is doing the behavior consistently. You know where to stick the name in (before he begins the behavior), and the behavior will be performed smoothly, then you can capture it all with the marker and reward. Then you repeat that sequence until the name is burned in his mind and associated with the behavior sequence.

Congrats, the dog now knows a new command name :)
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