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Training a dog to leave it

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Teach a dog to leave
Photo: Dog told to leave

Teaching your dog the leave command is something you will naturally do, especially if you get a puppy. Puppies are inquisitive and pick up everything, sometimes nasty  and potentially dangerous non-edibles or poisonous edibles and often your prize belongings. So you are bound to tell your puppy to leave within the first day or so of it arriving in your home.

But you actually have to teach your dog what is means, so it reacts every time. When you begin to train a dog to “Leave”, it is best done is a nice quiet setting with no distractions.  Keep your training sessions fun and not too long.  If your dog tires, stop on a good note and restart later on.  Be patient, calm and always use a friendly, happy tone.

  • Sit on a chair or the floor and put your dog in front of you in the sit position. 
  • Hold a yummy treat in each of your hands and show it to your dog.
  • Put one hand with a treat in it behind your back and place the other treat on the floor in front of your dog. When your dog leans towards the treat, which it will do at first, cover the treat with your hand without saying anything. 
  • Your dog will then more than likely look at you.  When it does say “yes” (or click if using clicker) and give it the treat from your other hand that was behind your back.
  • Continue repeating this several times and very soon you will be able to put the treat down, without him reaching forward and automatically looking at you.
  • When your dog gets to this stage, add in the leave command.  Softly say “leave” as you put the treat on the floor, so he can now learn to associate the command with the action. When your dog gets it right say “yes” (or click) and give it  the treat from your other hand, giving lots of praise.

Practise this for a few short training sessions every day.

Once you feel your dog has the basic understanding of leave you should  progress onto trying it is different situations, like with you standing up, putting the treat on the groun and if your dogs goes for it, cover the treat with your foot

Take the same training session into an outside environment, first in your garden, then while walking on lead.   Practise daily by telling him to leave objects other than treats,  ensuring that you reward your dog every time it obeys.

Keep practising in different ways, different environments, close up and at a distance. 

Whilst out resting on one of our walks, with my dog laying next to me I began to teach him to “leave” treats on his paws without taking them.  He looks at me until I give him my release command, which in this instance is take.

Remember to always praise and treat your dog initially when he leaves on command, you must make it more appealing for him to leave alone what he is going for.

Note the difference between Leave and Drop:  You should say “leave” BEFORE your dog gets to what he is going to pick up.  Drop is when you want him to let go of whatever he is holding in his mouth.

Video Link : How to teach 'leave it'- without intimidation