Leave It

Command Training

“Leave it” is a very important life skill. We start by practicing it in a quiet, controlled environment then work up to being able to use it in real life situations. When your dog is learning “leave it” we always like to use a different treat for the item they are leaving vs. the treat they will be rewarded with. In real life situations it is very rare that you will want your dog to ever have what you asked them to leave so we like to practice with not rewarding with the same thing they are being asked to leave during the training session, so you will need 2 different types of treats for this exercise. One will be lower value and one high value. The higher value will be what you will be using as the reward.

This video features trainer, Carrie Seay of PHX Animal Behavior Center, walking through all of the steps to help teach your dog “Leave it”.


Step 1. Sit on the floor next to your dog with the lower value treats in one hand. Your dog will most likely start to sniff at your hand.  Make sure your palm is closed so if your dog goes for your hand they cannot get those treats.

Step 2. The moment your dog removes their focus from the hand with the treats click and toss a treat away from you. Do not use a treat from the closed hand.

Step 3. Once your dog has done this a few times we will add in our cue.  You will simply present your closed hand and say “leave it” and then click the moment your dog removes their focus again and toss the treat away from you.

Step 4. When your dog is doing well with the closed hand start offering the hand in different positions and more open. You can even begin placing the treat in more open areas as long as you still have the ability to cover the treat quickly in case your dog goes for it. 

Step 5. Work with different items that may be interesting to your dog. You can also begin to use it in more real life situations like on walks or around the house.  

Remember to use cues when you know your dog is going to be able to perform the behavior. Set them up for success! So if you are out on a walk and your dog already has their mouth on a leaf, don’t ask them to “leave it” because we don’t want to confuse the meaning of the cue word.  

2 thoughts on “Leave It

    1. We are so glad to hear that you found this video to be helpful! Ultimately, you can feel free to use any word or phrase that you and your family are comfortable with. Personally, Carrie does not like to use the word “No” because people typically say it in situations where their dog hasn’t learned what they’re specifically supposed to do in response to that word. “No” is usually what people tend to naturally say, and so it can be hard for your pup to associate a specific action to that word if you’re using it to mean multiple different things. Remember, dogs don’t know the human meaning of any word or phrase, which is why command training is so important! I hope this helps! 🙂

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