Here’s an example of why the command LEAVE IT is so important to teach a dog, in fact it might be a matter of life or death. Someone in San Francisco has been leaving cooked meatballs, spiked with strychnine, along city sidewalks, likely in an attempt to poison dogs.
His attempts are working.
Strychnine, for those who are unaware, is a toxic alkaloid used as a pesticide to kill small birds and animals, but it can be fatal to dogs, and even humans (particularly children).
According to the SF Examiner, the poisoned meatballs were scattered throughout several neighborhoods including Twin Peaks, Diamond Heights, Cole Valley, Bernal Heights and Lower Haight. All in all, the 100+ meatballs were found in virtually every corner of San Francisco.
Even the most well trained dog might not be prepared to ignore something as rare, and delicious, as cooked meatball during a walk. That’s why it’s no surprise that several dogs have gotten sick from the poison, including Oskar, a 7-year-old Dachshund who was taken to the hospital and listed in critical condition.
Strychnine acts fast, which is why it can become fatal. It’s absorbed into the system within 15 minutes, meaning dog owners who believe their dogs were poisoned need to get to their vet immediately. Symptoms include hypersensitivity to light and touch, seizures, hyperthermia, agitation, and trouble breathing.
Sadly, this isn’t a rare case
Leaving traces of poison in meat or other types of food, in order to attract dogs, is not a rare crime. Just this past spring, in Pittsburgh, dog owners claimed their dogs were getting sick by something left deliberately at a Southside park. These satchels of meat attracted dogs. By the time the dogs’ owners came to check things out, the meat would already be eaten.
And the Pittsburgh incident isn’t the only other example. Each year there are news stories of people deliberately poisoning dogs through the use of treats or food.
The lesson here, of course, is to not skimp out on teaching your dog LEAVE IT. Many dog owners are content with “sit” and “stay,” as during a normal day-to-day routine, that’s all that is needed.
Other dog owners practice that phrase LEAVE IT, but don’t reinforce it. What happens is a dog will listen to your command in less stimulating environments. However, when something (like cooked meatballs) enters the picture, all training is tossed out the window.
Take special care to teach your dog the LEAVE IT command in a variety of environments, using a range of “traps” including dog treats and meat. The extra time you take in training could very well save your dog’s life.