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How To Teach A Dog To Leave It – Step by Step Guide

Teaching a dog to leave something will help your dog’s self-control, and it could be lifesaving as dogs tend to pick up perceived food and treats from surfaces. On occasion this instinctive behavior can lead your dog to picking up toxic materials or medications could be fatal to the dogs. Therefore it is essential to train your dog to leave things alone on command.  You can train your dog this command through a dog trainer, or you by yourself.

How Long Will It Take To Teach a Dog To Leave It

Each dog learns at a different pace according to its learning capacity, so you cannot predict a specific time. Be patient and consistent with the training..

Equipment Needed to Train Leave It

Treats
Chicken Flavor Training Treats


Clicker
OYEFLY Dog Training Clicker


Leash
Fida Durable Slip Dog Leash


Toys
Dog Toy Set


Balls
Dog Toy Ball


Step By Step Guide To Teach a Dog To Leave It

Step 1: Take two different treats; one which should be your dog’s favorite, and the other should be a less tasty treat. Keep each in a different hand. Put out the hand with the boring treat to the dog with the fist closed. 

Step 2: While the dog tries to get the treat out of your closed fist, repeatedly say ‘leave it’.

Step 3: When the dog stops reacting, mark it with a clicker or verbal cue such as ‘Yes’ or ‘Take It’ and give the dog its favorite treats from the other hand.

OR

Step 1: Take two different treats, and one treat should be much tastier than the other one.  Now, place the less tasty treat on the floor and close it with your hands.

Step 2: Let the dog smell the treat and try to get it by licking, nibbling, pawing, or nosing. All the while, repeat the verbal cue ‘Leave it’.

Step 3: At a point, the dog will stop trying to get the treat. Once the dog stops reacting to the treat, mark it with a clicker or verbal cue such as ‘Yes’ or ‘Take It’ and reward the dog with the tasty treat in the other hand.

Step 4: When your dog learns to leave the treat under the closed hand on the floor, try the same steps by leaving the treat on the ground without closing it with your hand. Be alert to close it with your hand if your dog gets too close to eating it.

Step 5: If your dog leaves the treat on the ground without your hand closing it, mark it with a clicker or verbal cue and reward another treat to your dog.

Step 6: Once your dog masters to leave the treat alone using any of the above two methods, hold the dog on a leash and drop food while standing. The leash will stop the dog from moving towards the food and repeat the word cue ‘Leave it’ until your dog stops pulling and reacting to the food. Reward your dog with bigger treats to emphasize that leaving dropped food would get more treats to the dog.

Step 7: As the next step to the training, place various treats and food items in a row on the floor. Hold your dog on a leash and try to walk past every treat and food on the floor by repeating the verbal cue ‘leave it’ while going past each treat.

Step 8: After your dog successfully ignores each treat, one at a time, try to walk past the whole row. Upon successful completion, reward your dog with something more interesting like a chew bone or a game of tug.

Step 9: Repeat the training with the dog’s toys and balls, other than food, to prevent the dog from picking up any toxic substance in the future.

Step 10: Train at different locations, adding distractions, such as people. Try throwing a toy far away to ensure that your dog does not pick up anything without your command under any situation.

PRO-TIP:

  • When the dog is not reaching for an object, don’t unnecessarily use the cue as this might teach your dog to ignore you.
  • Immediately saying ‘Leave It’ when the dog notices and approaches the object will imprint the command effectively. 
  • The cue is less likely to change the dog if said after the dog reaches close to the object.
  • Train at the physical and emotional comfort of the dog and never force them.
  • Keeping the training sessions short and fun will sustain the dog’s attention span and interest by making the learning process quick.

What To Do If General Tips Do Not Work?

  • Training your dog the ‘Take It’ command will teach the dog to pick something only when you tell it. Once your dog starts picking up objects only after your command, it will be easy to train them to leave things alone.
  • If your dog ignores your command and eats the treat/food, hold it on a leash for 30 minutes without moving. This will emphasize to the dogs that if they don’t follow your command, they will be restricted, and if followed, they will be rewarded.
  • If the dog fails to respond with distractions as it did without any distractions, increase the reward to the dog’s favorite food or toy to help your dog concentrate.

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