Training a Leave It Command

How to train a “leave it” command

Leave means: “leave it, it is boring, pay attention to me I am exciting and rewarding”.

As a consequence, Leave is a gently spoken command and the dog is verbally rewarded as well as being rewarded (e.g. food, play).

Remember, the more important the item you are asking the dog to leave is to the dog, the greater the payment you will have to offer.

Would you leave your pen for someone who said please and offered you £2.00?

Would you leave your car for the same price? I suspect not, but you would for £20,000.

Steps to training the Leave

Hold a piece of food in your closed hand level with the dogs face, your dog will try to get the food out, if this hurts you wear a glove, but do not move your hand.  After a while the dog will realise it cannot get the food this way and it will remove its mouth from your hand – immediately open your hand and say “take it” – giving the treat to the dog.  Repeat several times daily until the dog does not even try getting it out your hand, but instead moves its face away waiting for you to open the hand and say “take it” – giving that treat to the dog.  Once this is established and dog does fluently every time, you can move to the next stage:

Exactly same as above but now add duration (TIME) so dog has to move away from closed hand with treat in for 1 second – Click & Treat. Build up to 6 seconds, but put some easy ones in as well.

Now start with your hand open and treat visible ( close it if he goes for treat), the moment he backs off  Click & Treat.. Once he can do this practise it in different positions, i.e you sitting on a chair, you crouching etc.  Then build in duration (time) starting at 1 second again.

Now start by putting treat on the ground ( put your hand over food if he goes to take it for the first few attempts) Now move hand away slightly and if dog leaves the food immediately click & treat.

Build in duration (time) as before, starting with 1 second.

Now add your command “Leave it” when your certain the dog understands what is required. Add the command just as you present the food.  Practise with food in closed fist, open hand, on the ground.  Now you can start to be creative and put food on your foot, on the dogs foot, on your knee etc.!  Then start applying to toys, treat bag, other animals.  Avoid rushing the process so the dog learns successfully.