Leave It is one of Kiara's most solid behaviours. I can throw a super desirable reward, and ask her to Leave It when she's within an inch of grabbing it. She'll swivel around instantly and race back towards me.
So, as I was about to throw the treat, and she was staring at me expectantly, I said "Leave It" and threw the treat. She went straight for it. I was flabbergasted. I tried again ... same result.
"No!!" I yelled at her as she scoffed up the treat, and then fed lots of treats to Giro as extra punishment. I was fuming (which is sadly when I fall back to verbal corrections, the way I first learned to train dogs many years ago). How could it be that my reliable Kiara was completely blowing the Leave It?
Fortunately, Whippets have extremely expressive faces. She looked quite shocked when I yelled at her, and puzzled as I fed the treats to Giro. Within moments that look on her face made it obvious to me that she had not "ignored" the Leave It ... something about it just didn't make sense to her. Was it because I hadn't done much Leave It training at the park? Was it something about the situation that looked different to my training approach?
I calmed down and analysed the situation. At the next attempt, I threw the treat and let her chase it. This time, "Leave it" brought the desired response, as instantly and quickly as I would expect of Kiara. I concluded that giving the cue "Leave it" as she was staring at me, before I had even thrown the treat, meant I was effectively asking her to "Leave" looking at me. But the subsequent behaviour to "Leave it" is to return Attention to me. Which is what she did by continuing to look at me. So the treat I threw then must have just looked like her reward for "Leave It" to her.
The way I had trained Leave It, it was always something she was looking at that I asked her to Leave. So of course I can't now expect her to Leave the next thing that she might like to go for.
When I asked her to "Wait" instead, and then threw the treat, she did not go for it. "Wait" makes sense to her in those circumstances: I had trained it to mean "remain in position no matter what, and wait for further instructions (either being released to what she wants, or any other cue I might then give her)".
So as usual, a "failure" to respond to a cue is always a reflection on the trainer. There is always a reason why dogs do what they do, but it can take some time to figure it out. Punishing the dog (by either verbal or physical correction) means we lay the blame on the dog, when, uncomfortably, it is us who has stuffed up.
I like what the outspoken Susan Garrett has to say about corrections:
This is what makes reward focused training so challenging: the need to really communicate with your dog, to listen to their feedback about you, to accept full responsibility when things go wrong. It's so much harder than just punishing perceived disobedience. But nothing beats the joy of feeling in harmony with your four legged best friend.