Teaching Your Dog to Leave It

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington
The “Leave It” command can come in handy in a variety of situations. Follow these tips on teaching your dog to leave it.

With time and proper technique, you can train a dog to do just about anything. But some of the best things you can train your dog to do are not the fancy tricks and complex commands – it is the simple things that will be the most useful. One of the best commands you can teach your dog (and one that you will use on a daily basis) is the “Leave It” command.

Why Should You Teach Your Dog to “Leave It”?

Dogs seem to have a special sense for things that they shouldn’t be getting into – garbage, food scraps, mud puddles, and even feces. It is difficult for us humans to understand why our dogs would be interested in these disgusting things, but your dog just can’t help himself – he has to eat it, dig it up, or roll in it.

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If your dog has a tendency to get into things, you may want to consider teaching him a “Leave It” command. This command is incredibly useful because it can be applied to a wide variety of situations. Is your dog sniffing around a dead rabbit on the side of the road? Tell him to “Leave It” and carry on with your walk. Does your dog look like he is just seconds away from jumping into your neighbor’s pond? Tell him to “Leave It”!

Essentially, you can use the “Leave It” command to tell your dog to stop what he is doing, no matter what that may be – you can even use it if your dog is playing too rough and you want him to stop.

Related: 6 Bizarre Ways Our Dogs Talk to Us

Tips for Teaching the “Leave It” Command

Teaching your dog the “Leave It” command is best accomplished through simple rewards-based training methods. The best way to teach your dog to respond to a certain command in a certain way is to reward him for doing so – it is that simple. Here is the training sequence you should use to teach the “Leave It” command to your dog:

  1. Sit or kneel in front of your dog and hold a small treat between the thumb and forefinger of one hand.
  2. With your palm facing up, move your hand around until your dog becomes interested in the treat.
  3. As soon as your dog goes for the treat, tell him “Leave it” and close your fist around the treat, turning your hand so the palm is facing down.
  4. Wait and watch your dog’s reaction – he may sniff or lick at your hand – as soon as his attention breaks away from your hand, tell him “Good” and give him the treat.
  5. Repeat this training sequence until your dog gets the hang of it – keep an eye on your dog’s eyes after giving the “Leave It” command and reinforce him by saying “Good” as soon as his eyes leave your hand.
  6. Once your dog has the hang of the “Leave It” command you can try it with one of his favorite toys or any number of things – just keep praising and rewarding him for good behavior.

As you can see, the training sequence for the “Leave It” command is surprisingly simple. The more you work with your dog to reinforce his understanding of the command, the more consistently he will respond when you give it. Eventually you will be able to keep your dog from getting into things he shouldn’t be getting into just by speaking two simple words.

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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