by: Kathy Pierson
“Leave It” is a command that will be a great asset in your doggie tool box. “Leave It” is a safety measure for your dog and also can be used as a way to exercise your dog.
The purpose of this command is to inform your dog that when she approaches an item that you do not want her to touch or put into her mouth, she must “Leave It” or leave it alone. For instance, when you are outside and do not want you dog to pick up an item off of the ground, you will use the “Leave It” command.
Steps to Teach “Leave It”:
Begin your training indoors in a quiet and undistracted area so that your dog can pay full attention to you and your commands. All family members should watch you only after you have obtained the results that you want. The less distraction during training, the better success your dog will achieve.
1. Your dog sits facing you. You have treats in your right hand and your hand is in a fist position and fingers are facing down towards the floor.
2. You will hold your hand with closed fist near your dog’s nose. Let her smell the treat in your hand without opening your fist.
3. Turn your hand upward and open your fist under your dog’s nose and say “Leave It”. Close your fist immediately when your dog attempts to take the treat.
Pause for a moment and begin step 2 again.
4. Repeat step 2 and 3 over and over and you will notice that your dog will begin to stop attempting to take the treat. Not a full attempt perhaps, but you are looking for her to back up or pause before launching for the treat.
5. After repeating step 2 and 3 several times until your dog settles down, the next time you put the treat in your fisted hand facing upwards, open your hand and say “OK” in a great big happy voice. Let her eat the treat and PRAISE in a big happy voice.
6. Repeat these steps until you are able to open your fist holding a treat; you say “Leave It” and your dog will not take the treat until you say “OK”.
Taking “Leave It” outside:
Now that you have perfected this command inside, you may begin working outside. You may want to put props in your yard; i.e., pine cones, sticks, or anything that you know your dog will want to approach and put in her mouth.
Your dog is on a leash and you begin moving around the items you have placed as props. When you get near the unwanted props, when your dog moves towards the prop and you think she will try to grab it, say “LEAVE IT” and keep walking by the prop. If she does not respond, move her away from the item and put her in the sit position. Start moving towards the prop again and when you have done this enough times that she begins to stop her approach to the unwanted item, treat her, praise her and keep walking.
This command is a safety tool and you will find it useful inside and outside. I am the proud Mom of Dottie, a rescued Goldie who is now 7 months old. The “Leave It” command is a frequently used tool in our home. Since we have two cats, Dottie now knows that “Leave It” means do not bother the cats and Dottie also will walk away from her favorite pine cones when we command “Leave It”.
I hope you enjoy this command as much as we have. It is necessary to protect your dog but it is also fun to watch them respond to this command during exercise.
Try using Leave It as a fun exercise tool. Put your dog in the sit and wait position, show your dog the treat, walk to another side of the yard, open your hand and say “OK” and watch her run to you for the treat. Simple pleasures! Have fun.