How to Train Your Dog to “Leave It”

how to train your dog to leave it - obedience training with golden retrieverThere are tons of commands and tricks you can teach your puppy. As they learn and master the basics, you can then expand to more complicated tricks. When it comes to the basics, “leave it” is an important command for your dog to master.

Why Your Dog Needs to Know “Leave It”

Dogs are often prone to chewing on things they shouldn’t or trying to eat things that are potentially harmful to them. It’s imperative your dog knows and understands the “leave it” or “drop it” command, whichever version you prefer to use.

On the more serious side, this command ensures they will drop whatever they have that they shouldn’t. If trained to master the command, they will also ignore distractions like chasing after a squirrel or inspecting something unsavory. It will also allow you to remove anything hazardous without issue. For example, you can easily take away an old toy or bone that has become a choking hazard or something else that could be potentially dangerous for them.

On a lighter note, “leave it” or “drop it” will also make playing games with your puppy easier. Instead of chasing or having to retrieve toys yourself during a game of fetch, your pup will bring it back to you and let you have the toy without issue. Plus, you won’t have to worry about them gobbling up any potentially harmful foods that fall on the floor before you can get to it.

How to Train Your Dog to “Leave It”

You can teach your dog how to “leave it” or “drop it” using several different techniques, including games. Here are a few training techniques for you to try:

During a Tug-of-War Game

As a puppy, you can start teaching your dog to “leave it” during a game of Tug-of-War. When your puppy has the toy and is pulling, hold up a treat. Once your puppy releases the toy, say “leave it” and reward the puppy. After a few rounds of rewarding the correct behavior, you should be able to say “leave it” and your puppy will release the toy on command.

With Treats in Your Hand

Sit in a chair or on the ground facing your dog and place a treat in your open palm. When your dog tries to get it or shows interest, close your fist so they cannot access it. Ignore any undesirable behaviors, like licking, pawing, or nudging your hand or barking. You do not want them to gain access to the treat. As soon as they divert their attention and stop trying to get the treat, reward the behavior with a “good” and perhaps a treat from a different stash with your other hand.

You do not want to give them the treat you were using in your hand or from the hand you were using for the training activity as this can cause confusion. Once your dog is exhibiting the desired behavior, then you can start pairing it with the “leave it” or “drop it” command. Choose one version of the command and stick to it consistently throughout training.

When your puppy understands the command in that context, you can start to increase the difficulty by putting the treat on the floor and teaching them to “leave it”. You also want to teach and reinforce this command off-leash at home and on-leash outside. You may have to review it every now and then to keep it fresh, but your dog will be better off for it.

There are plenty of basic commands your dog should know. “Leave it” will help keep them safe and healthy when it counts.