This command can save you and your dog.

This command can save you and your dog.

Basics: "Leave It" Command

Background

"Leave it" is one of the first commands your dog needs to know to keep him away from things that you need to keep from being chewed up or carried away. Knowing this command also keeps your dog safe -- some foods and objects just aren't safe for your dog to get into.

Materials Needed

  1. Low and high value treats. An example of a low value treat is kibble. An example of a high value treat is a hot dog.
  2. A clicker or marker word such as "Yes"

Level One

  1. Start training leave it by placing the low value treat in one hand and the high value treat in the other behind your back. Say the cue “leave it” and present your dog with the low value treat in a closed palm. Your dog will likely use his mouth and paws to try to get to the treat, but keep your hand closed so that he isn’t able to. 
  2. The moment your dog stops trying to get to the treat mark the behavior with a clicker or your marker word “yes.” Then present them with the higher value treat that was behind your back. 
  3. Switch hands and repeat this exercise until your dog looks straight to you when you give the “leave it” cue, instead of pawing at the hand with the treat. 

Level Two

  1. After saying “leave it,” make the command more challenging by presenting your dog with the low value treat in an open hand. When he tries to eat it make sure to close your hand. When he pulls away and looks at you, open your hand again.
  2. The moment your dog stops trying to get to the treat from the open hand, mark the behavior with a clicker or your marker word “yes.” Then present them with the higher value treat that was behind your back. 
  3. Switch hands and repeat this exercise until your dog looks straight to you when you give the “leave it” cue, instead of pawing at the hand with the treat. 

Level Three

  1. Place the low value treat on the ground and say “leave it.” When your dog tries to go for the treat, place your cupped hand or foot over the treat so that your dog cannot get to it. When your dog stops trying, lift your hand and let the dog see the treat. If they continue to try to eat it, quickly cover it again and repeat until they stop and look at you. 
  2. The moment your dog stops trying to get to the treat and looks at you, mark the behavior with a clicker or your marker word “yes.” Then present them with the higher value treat that was behind your back. 
  3. Repeat this exercise until your dog looks straight to you when you give the “leave it” cue, and place the treat on the ground.

Level Four

  1. Drop the low value treat on the ground and immediately say leave it. When your dog starts to go for the treat, cover it with your food so that they are unable to get to it.
  2. The moment your dog stops trying to get to the treat mark the behavior with a clicker or your marker word “yes.” Then present them with the higher value treat that was behind your back. 
  3. Repeat this in different locations and using different treats and toys to ensure that your dog generalizes the command. 

Reminders

  1. Always work at your dog's level
  2. Only say the command once