How to Train Your Dog to Leave It

When training your dog, many basic commands are crucial for your dog’s safety and well-being. One of the things that you should learn right away is how to train your dog to leave it. This command is critical, and this article will discuss why. Also, the article will help you to learn how to train your dog to leave it and what the experts say about training your dog to leave it.

Why It Is Important to Learn How to Train Your Dog to Leave It

Like the command “drop it,” the command “leave it” is important because it can keep your dog safe. When on a walk, you can tell your dog to “leave it” to keep him from picking up something that would be damaging to his health or potentially hurt him. Even in your home, if you drop something (such as medication) on the floor and your dog scrambles to get it, if you have taught him the command “leave it,” you can ensure that he does not ingest something he should not.

Therefore, when picking which things you want to teach your dog, make sure that training your dog to leave it is on your list.

The command “leave it” is different from “drop it.” When teaching “leave it,” you are instructing your dog not to pick something up in his mouth. The command “drop it” is used instead if the dog has already picked something up.

Also, if you have trained your dog properly, you can use the “leave it” command not only to keep him from picking something up from the floor, but also to keep him from chasing a squirrel, lunging at another dog, and so on.

Tools and Materials Needed to Teach Your Dog to Leave It

Two stacks of treats



Lot of patience and many sessions

How to Train Your Dog to Leave It

As with all training, start off with less challenging sessions and gradually increase the difficulty of the training.

Place a treat in your closed fist and present it to your dog. More than likely, if he is food-motivated, he will try to get to the treat. Do not allow your dog to get the treat. As soon as he stops trying to get the treat, use the command “leave it!” and give him one of the tasty treats. Do not give him the treat that is in your closed fist. Otherwise, you are defeating the purpose of the training.

Repeat this time and time again until your dog is no longer interested in the closed fist that offers him a treat.

Once your dog is no longer interested in the closed fist, increase the difficulty by opening your hand while giving the “leave it” command. Remember, do not allow your dog to take the treat! If your dog attempts to take the treat from your open hand, close it quickly. Once your dog ignores the open hand as you are giving him the command “leave it,” reward him with a treat from the “fun” stash of treats. Under no circumstances should you give him the treat in your hand. You do not want to confuse things for your dog.

Repeat this many times over until your dog knows that he cannot take the treat from your open hand when you use the command “leave it.”

Gradually increase the difficulty by placing the treat on the floor while cupping your hand over it. When your dog learns to leave that treat alone and ignore it, move to the next step. Take your hand off of the treat while telling your dog to “leave it.” Keep your hand close by in case you have to retrieve the treat quickly so that your dog cannot steal it. Once he leaves the treat on the floor when you tell him to “leave it,” reward him with a treat from the good stash.

Again, you will need to repeat this portion of the exercise many times. Your dog must get to the point where he does not attempt to take a treat that you have placed on the floor. Do not move too quickly on to the next step so that you do not set your dog up for failure.

When your dog is comfortable and has accomplished leaving the treats in the above circumstances, you can once again increase the level of difficulty by placing your dog on a leash and tossing a treat (or toy) on the floor, while telling your dog to leave it.

Have your dog on leash so that he does not manage to reach the toy (or treat). Once your dog stops trying to get to the treat, reward him by giving him a treat from the good stash.

Repeat this exercise often and remember to keep reinforcing the “leave it” training at different times. You can purposely drop something on the ground and tell your dog to leave it to enhance the training.

Some Points to Keep in Mind

Do not allow your dog to get a toy or treat that you have told him to leave. It will be confusing to the dog if he receives as a reward the treat he was supposed to “leave.” The command will thus be rendered invalid, or, at best, very confusing to him.

What Do the Experts Say?

Victoria Stilwell

Victoria teaches “leave it” command in 6 steps

Cesar Millan

Cesar discusses 5 essential commands to teach your dog. Among these is “Leave It”

More Dog Training Articles

Have you enjoyed reading this article? Read more dog training articles in the series:

Teaching Your Dog to Drop It

Train Your Dog to Heel

How to Train Your Dog to Come When Called

Potty Training Your Puppy

Teach Your Dog to Sit

Have you successfully trained your dog to leave it? What is your favorite tip on how to do so?




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