Quick guide: Leave it


The leave it command is so useful and could save your dog’s life. Once this command is taught you will be able to tell your dog the cue word and from there they will know to leave whatever they are about to eat, chew on or play with. We found this command particularly useful in our household in teaching our dog Brum to leave the cat alone. The best use for the leave it command is usually stopping dogs from eating foods they shouldn’t or that could be dangerous for them, something left on the side walk or even dropped on the floor by accident. Leave it can also be used for dogs who are often distracted on walks.

Things to remember

  • Start training in a low distraction environment
  • Change the distraction you are using. Once they have mastered one move onto another
  • Ensure your dog can ‘focus’ or ‘look at me’ before you start. you can read about this command here
  • Reward for the baby steps your dog makes


Step one:
Hold a treat in your hand and make a fist so the dog can’t eat the treat. Say leave it and let the dog sniff at your hand for as long as it takes, As soon as they look away say ‘Yes’ and give them the treat. Repeat this until the dog is waiting patiently as soon as you say leave it.

Step two:
Hold your palm open with the treat in it, say leave it and reward the dog as soon they are waiting patiently. If they go for the treat close you hand and try step one a few more times.

Step three:
Drop a treat in front of your dog and cover the treat with your hand, say the cue word. As soon as they wait patiently reward. Make sure you pick up the treat and hand it to them don’t let them eat it off the ground as you want them to be looking to you for rewards not sniffing the ground. If they are pawing at your hand go back to step two before moving on again.

Step three:
Drop the treat in front of the dog, and hold your hand between the dog and the treat, say the cue word. When they look away or wait patiently reward. If they go for the treat cover it with your hand and repeat step three.

Step four:
Place the treat in front of the dog and say leave it. If the dog leaves the treat reward them, if not go back to step three.

Step five:
Start to practice this command at a greater distance away from the dog, you should also try this in different environments as well as with different objects as treats. Remember only change one variable at a time and slowly work forwards. Try asking your dog to leave a treat and then focus on you, as in real life situations using these commands together can be very useful. 


Trouble shoot:

  • If the dog isn’t leaving the treat go back to step one
  • Make sure you do each step a lot of times
  • When you move to a high distraction environment start from step one again
  • Make sure the dog is worn out before they start training, try going for a run or walk with them
  • Take a step back if your dog isn’t progressing
  • Never yell or get frustrated while training if you are getting frustrated stop and start again later 

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