Leave it

“LEAVE – IT”: Means don’t even look at it because you will never be able to have it. Success is dependent on consistency.

This is a great command – it can be used to keep your dog safe & away from danger. This is not “drop – it”. That command means please relinquish what you already have in your mouth; whereas “leave-it” implies don’t touch it.

Applications for the “leave-it” command:
  • If you drop something on the floor that you don’t want your dog to put in his mouth, use this command.
  • If you are walking your dog & there is a garbage bag filled with empty soup cans with sharp edges; use it.
  • If you see a squirrel, rabbit, cat or unleashed dog, this command is great! This takes a while to teach though.
Important points about “leave-it”:
  • This is not the “drop-it” command.
  • Do not give your dog this command if he already has something in his mouth.
  • He never gets “released” from this command.
  • This is not the “wait” command, although your dog may think so in the beginning.
  • Your timing is especially key & don’t pull your hand away.

Hold a dog treat in one hand, preferably one that is tasty yet not your dog’s favorite. In your other hand, have several pieces of a different & better tasting dog treats behind your back. Hold onto the one treat & give your dog the command “leave-it”. This is the only command where your voice will change & sound unpleasant. Try to make your voice sound scary – be sure NOT to yell. As you give your dog the command, you are going to push the treat gently yet firmly into his nose. This action teaches your dog to pull his face away from what you are telling him to leave. Another exception to this command is that you will repeat the command. (Generally it does not take long for your dog to learn this so the repeating is short run). As soon as your dog shows signs of avoidance, take a tasty treat from behind you & reward him with it. Make sure you keep the treat that you are telling your dog to “leave”, in front of him while you reward him with a goodie. Gradually increase the value of the “leave-it” item along with the reward you are giving your dog.


If you’ve practiced, your dog should understand the relevance of the command. You will need the lead for this step. Place a treat (of average value) on the floor and give the command, “Buddy, leave-it”. Since it’s on the floor you won’t be able to push the treat into his nose, so first cover the treat with your hand or foot for 1-2 days. Then add more distance between where you are a & the “leave-it” treat. If & when your dog goes for the treat on the floor, take the lead and gently yet firmly give him a “pop” on the collar.

As you do the latter, you will give him a verbal reprimand such a “ah, ah” followed by an instructional command, “leave-it”. Gradually increase the value of the “leave-it” item along with the reward you are giving your dog. As soon as your dog shows the following signs of avoidance, PRAISE HIM – GOOD LEAVE-IT! Your must see the sign and reward him immediately. Don’t DELAY.

Signs of avoidance:
  • Looking away from the “leave-it” treat.
  • Looking up @ you.
  • Any slight shift of eyes away from treat.