Dog Training: Teach Leave-It

As part of your basic dog training skills, you need to teach every dog leave it.    It means, don’t put that object in your mouth & move away.     In other words, Leave it alone.

Application:  Foods they shouldn’t eat, kid’s toys they should not have, shoes, rodents in the back yard, things on the street, and any other thing you want them to leave alone.

Teaching Method:  There are some things that for which a treat reward just work best.  This is one of them, in my opinion.  Dogs like to eat things that smell and if they have no impulse control, they’ll try almost anything.   Teaching them LEAVE IT with food creates a very reliable skill.  If they can leave a yummy treat, they will likely drop a toy or your shoes!

What Will You Need:   Yummy treats!  Kibble can be used to start.  Increase the challenge with greater value food rewards.

Time Required:   5 minutes, 2-3 times a day over a week or two.  Then ongoing random practice to keep them challenged.

Recommendations for Teaching The Skill*:

Day 1, Lesson 1:

  • Start with a treat in one hand that the dog CANNOT have – make it something        yummy.  Close your hand and hold it out in front of your dog.
  • Let your dog smell the hand with the treat.  He may paw, lick, nudge, etc trying to get you to open your hand.  Don’t open your hand, just wait.
  • Have other treats in your other hand behind your back, treat pouch, pocket, etc.
  • The moment your dog removes his nose or mouth from the original hand with the treat, reward from the other hand.
  • Do this several times (3-4), waiting on him move away from your hand
  • Repeat, but this time add the word “leave it” as soon as he moves away from your hand and as you offer the reward.
  • Repeat with the “Leave It” Command 4-5 more times.
  • Take a break

Day 1, Lesson 2:

  • Follow the same process above, but always use the “Leave it” queue when the dog removes his nose/mouth, etc. from your hand
  • Change hands so that he learns leave it can be applied to either hand
  • Repeat  5-7 times
  • Take a Break
  • Practice a few times each day for 5-10 minutes at a time.

Day 2:  Lesson 3

  • Practice one or two times using the process from the previous lesson.
  • By now your dog may be ignoring your hand and starting to look at you or at your other hand for the reward.
  • Start to open your palm so the treat is exposed in front of your dog’s nose.   Be prepared to close your hand or draw it back if needed – remember he cannot have that treat!
  • Wait until he can pull away from the open palm, say “Leave It” and then reward from the other hand.
  • Repeat 5-7 time in this lesson, and then repeat the lesson a few more times the same day.

Day 3, Lesson 4

  • Practice one or two times using the process from the previous lesson
  • Then move to putting the treat on the floor.  Be prepared to cover the treat with your hand quickly.   Remember, he cannot have that treat!
  • Wait until he can pull away from the open palm, say “Leave It” and then reward from the other hand.
  • Repeat 5-7 time in this lesson, and then repeat the lesson a few more times the same day.

Day 4, Lesson 5

  • Practice one or two times using the process from the previous lesson
  • You should stand up with the treat on the floor – be prepared to cover with your foot
  • Wait until he can pull away from the open palm, say “Leave It” and then reward from the other hand.
  • Repeat 5-7 time in this lesson, and then repeat the lesson a few more times the same day.

Day 5, Lesson 6

  • Practice one or two times using the process from the previous lesson
  • Progress to a great toy he likes, or a different treat so that he learns it’s not just turkey or hotdogs he can’t have), but anything you tell him to leave.
  • Increase the value of the treat reward – it may be really easy to leave boring kibble, but much harder to leave a piece of steak.

Ongoing Practice and Increasing the Challenge

  • By now, your do is becoming more reliable at leaving the object or food item when you say leave it.   Add your verbal praise and alternate praise with treats.
  • Begin testing him with toys, by using it to play with your dog, and then tell him leave-it right in the middle of play and reward/treat/praise.  This is much harder! Be patient while he learns and make the reward a good one not just kibble.
  • Toss Treats near him and say “leave it”  — reward for leaving the food on the floor
  • Practice on your daily walk or while you’re outside and he’s sniffing, chomping on a stick, chasing a bug, or trying to pick up something off the street.    Use your verbal praise lavishly when he leaves the item!!!
  • As he starts to master the command, you should be able to leave your dinner on the floor and walk out of the room telling him to “leave it” and come back to your meal untouched.  It’s challenging, and will take lots and lots of practice of the skills above, but it can be done.

 

Apply this life saving skill early!   Dogs will attempt to ingest all sorts of things if given the opportunity.  Acorns, socks, toys, even poisons, etc. These can be dangerous and expensive. Supervise for prevention, but keep things cleaned up and out of reach too.

Tether the dog to you: It’s ok for you to have a dog on leash inside the house. It will help you during training to prevent the dog from running off to do something else, and gives you a way to “catch him” if he’s into mischief.    Your dog can’t chase the cat or eat the kids snack if you’re supervising.

 

FacebookYoutube, Twitter, Pinterest , Instagram  & Google+

The K9 Coach is a professional Certified Dog Trainer Serving North Carolina  (NC).

My mission is a better life for dogs as members of a forever family.

My goal is create training solutions for the home owner, to rehabilitate dogs from shelters and rescues, and to prevent dogs from dying alone as strays or owner surrenders in shelters due to unnecessary aggression or behavioral issues.

Begin training with a consult with a professional trainer to be sure you’re solving the right problem. Misdiagnosis can make the matters worse. Be sure that there are no medical issues at play and that your dog is not in pain, as pain can be a contributor to a new display of aggression. If you have any fear or uncertainty — do not attempt the techniques without professional supervision.

Author: The K9 Coach

The K9 Coach Carolinas Dog Training owned and operated by Dana Brigman, certified dog trainer. We specialize in aggression, fear, anxiety and dog behavior training. We are experts in dog obedience training.

One thought on “Dog Training: Teach Leave-It”

  1. Pingback: stop puppy chewing

Comments are closed.