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Teaching Your Dog to Leave It

As pet owners, we always want the best for our furry friends. We want them to be well-behaved and obedient, so that they can fit into our households seamlessly. One important command that every dog should know is “Leave It”. This simple yet powerful command can save your dog’s life and prevent them from getting into trouble. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of teaching the “Leave It” command to your dog, the steps to properly train them, and some common mistakes to avoid. We will also provide practical tips and reinforcement techniques to make the training process effective and enjoyable for both you and your pet. So let’s get started!

Importance of Teaching “Leave It” Command

The “Leave It” command is a useful tool in preventing your dog from picking up and eating harmful objects or substances, such as toxic foods, medicines, or foreign objects like trash or plastic. Dogs are naturally curious creatures and they explore the world through their mouths. This behavior may not always be safe, especially when they come across something that can harm them. Teaching your dog the “Leave It” command can also prevent them from getting into fights with other animals, chasing cars or squirrels, or even jumping on strangers.

Moreover, the “Leave It” command can help improve your dog’s impulse control and focus. Dogs, just like humans, have a tendency to act impulsively and without thinking. By teaching them to resist the temptation of something they desire, you are helping them develop self-control and obedience. This command can also be used in various situations, such as when your dog wants to play with other dogs while walking on a leash, or when they are overly excited and jumping on guests. Overall, having a well-trained dog who knows the “Leave It” command can lead to a happier and more harmonious relationship between you and your pet.

Understanding the “Leave It” Command

Teaching Your Dog to Leave It

Before we dive into the training process, it is important to understand what the “Leave It” command means and how it should be used. Essentially, this command means for your dog to ignore or back away from something that they are interested in or want. It can also be translated as “stop” or “don’t touch”. The key to teaching this command successfully is to associate it with a positive outcome for your dog. This could be a treat, praise, or even a game of fetch. By doing so, your dog will learn that listening to the command will result in something enjoyable for them.

It is also important to note that the “Leave It” command should never be used as a form of punishment. If your dog has done something wrong, such as chewing on your favorite shoes, it is best to redirect their attention to a toy or bone instead of using the “Leave It” command. This way, they will not associate the command with negative consequences and will be more likely to listen to it in the future.

Steps to Teach Your Dog to “Leave It”

Teaching Your Dog to Leave It

Now that you understand the importance and proper usage of the “Leave It” command, let’s move on to the step-by-step process of training your dog.

Step 1: Prepare treats and choose a quiet location

To start off, gather some small, tasty treats that your dog loves. These treats will serve as a reward for your dog’s good behavior. It is important to choose a location that is free from distractions, such as a quiet room in your house or a fenced-off yard. This will help your dog focus on you and the training without getting easily distracted.

Step 2: Show your dog the treat and firmly say “leave it”

Hold the treat in your hand and make sure your dog can see and smell it. Then, close your hand into a fist and say “leave it” in a firm and clear tone. This step is all about teaching your dog to resist the temptation of something they desire.

Step 3: Wait for your dog to back away or ignore the treat

At this point, your dog may try to paw at your hand or sniff it in an attempt to get the treat. Be patient and wait for them to back away or lose interest in the treat. As soon as they do, say “good boy/girl!” and give them a different treat from your other hand. This way, you are rewarding them for following the command and not trying to grab the treat from your hand.

Step 4: Practice with different objects and distractions

After your dog has mastered the command with treats, you can start practicing with different objects that may be tempting for them, such as toys, food, or items they like to chew on. It is important to gradually increase the level of difficulty and distractions to help your dog generalize the command in real-life situations. For instance, you can place the treat on the floor or table and ask your dog to leave it, or practice in a busy environment with people walking by.

Step 5: Add verbal and visual cues

Once your dog has consistently responded to the “Leave It” command, you can start adding verbal and visual cues. This will make it easier for your dog to understand what you want them to do even without saying the actual command. For example, you can use a hand gesture or point towards the object you want them to leave alone while saying “leave it”.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When training your dog to “Leave It”, there are some common mistakes that you should avoid to ensure successful results.

Giving mixed signals

It is important to be consistent with your commands and body language. If you use different words or gestures, or if your tone of voice changes, your dog will have a hard time understanding what you want them to do. Make sure everyone in your household is on the same page when it comes to training and using the “Leave It” command.

Not being patient

Training takes time and patience. Some dogs may learn the “Leave It” command quickly, while others may take more time to grasp it. Do not get frustrated or lose your temper if your dog does not respond as expected. Instead, keep practicing and be consistent with your training approach.

Punishing your dog for not obeying the command

As mentioned earlier, the “Leave It” command should never be used as a form of punishment. This will only create confusion and fear in your dog, making it harder for them to learn the command. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and reward your dog for good behavior.

Practice Tips and Reinforcement Techniques

Here are some additional tips and techniques that can help make the training process more effective and enjoyable for both you and your dog.

Use high-value treats

When starting out, use treats that your dog loves and cannot resist. This will make the training more enticing for them and they will be more motivated to listen to the command.

Be consistent and patient

Consistency is key when it comes to dog training. Make sure you use the command and gesture in the same way every time. Also, remember to be patient and do not expect immediate results. Training takes time and each dog learns at their own pace.

Practice in different scenarios

As mentioned earlier, gradually increase the difficulty and distractions in your training sessions. This will help your dog generalize the command and listen to it in various real-life situations.

Reward and praise your dog

Positive reinforcement is crucial in dog training. Make sure you reward your dog every time they successfully follow the “Leave It” command. Praise them with a happy and excited tone, and give them lots of love and affection. This will encourage them to repeat the behavior.

Use a clicker

Clicker training can be a useful tool in teaching your dog the “Leave It” command. The clicking sound acts as a marker for good behavior and can help reinforce the command more effectively. Simply click when your dog backs away from the treat or object, and reward them immediately after.

Real-life Scenarios and Applications

The “Leave It” command can be used in various situations and scenarios to keep your dog safe and well-behaved. Here are some real-life applications of this command.

Preventing your dog from eating harmful objects

Dogs have a natural instinct to sniff and eat anything they come across. By teaching them the “Leave It” command, you can prevent them from consuming toxic foods, medicines, or other items that may be harmful to their health.

Stopping your dog from chasing animals or cars

Dogs are known to chase after moving objects, such as squirrels, bikes, or cars. This can be dangerous for both your dog and others. The “Leave It” command can help you stop your dog from engaging in this behavior.

Controlling your dog’s excitement and jumping on people

When guests come over, it is natural for dogs to get overly excited and jump on them. This can be intimidating for some people, especially young children. By teaching your dog the “Leave It” command, you can prevent them from jumping and instead greet guests calmly.


Teaching your dog the “Leave It” command is essential for their safety and obedience. With consistent training, patience, and positive reinforcement, your dog will learn to resist temptations, improve their impulse control and focus, and become a well-mannered companion. Remember to avoid common mistakes, use practice tips and reinforcement techniques, and apply the command in real-life scenarios to ensure successful results. With this powerful command in your dog’s repertoire, you can have peace of mind knowing that they will listen and obey when it matters the most.


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