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How to Train Your Dog to “Leave It”

Dr. Jan Bellows.

Many of the tricks that your dog will learn are optional. Your dogs do not need to roll over. Your dog does not need to “speak.” All of these are examples of optional tricks that are “neat” but not necessarily important to train your pet. That is why these tricks are less common, especially with busy dog owners.

There are also the important tricks. Tricks like “Come” and “sit” are all extremely important if you want your dog to be well behaved. Only by teaching your dog these common commands will you be able to ensure it stays out of trouble. These tricks are taught to almost every dog.

But there is one trick that is both uncommon but also very important for your dog’s health. That is the “Leave it” command.

What is the Leave it Command?

The “Leave it” Command is designed to get your dog to ignore the items that it is interested in. Basically, you are training your dog to leave things alone. The purpose of this trick is to:
• Make sure your dog doesn’t eat anything that may be dangerous.
• Make sure your dog doesn’t get its face in anything gross.
• Make sure your dog leaves your items or dropped food alone.
It is important to make sure your dog doesn’t put things into its mouth that are bad for it or bad for you. This makes the trick very important and one that all dog owners should train their pet.

How to Train Your Dog to Leave It
• Put a treat on the ground in front of your pet. Don’t move your hand very far away.
• When your pet goes for the treat, say “Leave It” and immediately move the treat away, grabbing it with your hand.
• Continue this until the dog gets frustrated and stops going after the treat. Once they no longer go after the treat (taking their eyes off the treat and moving away), praise your pet and give it a different treat.
• Wait a little while and repeat the process again. Do not give the dog the treat on the ground. Always give the dog a separate treat.
• Try mixing up the types of treats, and possibly even a toy or two to ensure your dog realizes that it is supposed to ignore whatever it is interested in, not just the treats you trained it with.
• Make sure you also train your dog the same trick while on a leash and outdoors.

Always Remember to Keep Praising Your Pet

In order for this command to work in public, you must always continue to reward your pet when it successfully ignores an item. The moment your dog moves away from something it wanted, you must shower it with praise (and treats, if you have any) and make it glad that it listened to your command.

By doing so, not only are you training your dog to ignore these items on command, but you are also showing your dog that IF the pet ignores the item it was interested in, it gets a possibly greater reward from you. All of these only serve to help enforce the idea that your dog needs to listen to the command the moment it is uttered.

“Leave It” may not be very common, but it is one of the most important commands you can teach your pet. It ensures that your dog will not eat anything harmful to it. It helps to keep your dog away from bad behaviors with the food you spill on the floor. And it makes sure that your dog does not put your own inedible items into its mouth.



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