How to Teach your dog “Leave It” in 3 Easy Steps

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How to Teach your dog “Leave It” in 3 Easy Steps

Teaching your puppy/dog to “Leave it” in 15 mins is possible, however you will want to have several 15 min sessions to get a solid “leave it”. Teaching the “Leave it” command is one of the most useful commands to teach a dog and is one of the core commands I personally use. Sit, Down, Off, Back, Come, Place or Crate and Leave it, these are the ones that I find to be the most useful and really the only ones I use in my normal “day to day” life with my dogs. You can also teach more complicated “tricks” but these are my basic in the house obedience commands.




The “leave it” command is used when you want your dog to leave something alone.. maybe something you’ve dropped, another dog, a child or your food for example.

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How to Teach “Leave It”

The key to a reliable “Leave it” is to teach your dog that if he leaves something alone when you ask him to, he might score something even better!

Step One: Get the Behavior

Sit down with your dog and show him that you have a treat tucked in your hand.

  • Say “Leave it,” and then hold out your hand with the treat enclosed in your fist so that he can’t get it. Let your dog lick and sniff your closed hand. He may mouth, paw it or bark. Ignore all this, say and do nothing and just wait.
  • After several seconds, your dog will stop trying to get the treat. The instant he moves his head away from your fist, say “Yes!” Then immediately give him a treat from your other hand.
  • Repeat this sequence at least ten times until your dog visibly moves away from your closed fist as soon as you present it to him and say “Leave it.” Some dogs learn this in one session. Others will need more practice over a couple of days.

Step Two: Increase the Difficulty

The next step is to teach your dog to look at you in order to earn the treat.

  • Hold the treat in your hand, say “Leave it” and wait.
  • When your dog doesn’t hear “Yes!” he’ll probably look up at you. The instant he looks at you, say “Yes!” and offer the treat to him in your open palm.
  • Perform at least 40 more repetitions until your dog makes direct eye contact with you when he hears “Leave it.” He’s now learned that the way to get you to give him a treat is to look at you.
  • To perfect this behavior even more, you can delay your “Yes!” by a second or so at first so that your dog has to look up at you longer to earn the treat. Over many repetitions, gradually increase the delay until your dog will stare at you for as long as five to ten seconds before earning your “Yes!” and a treat.

Step Three: Practice on the Floor

The next step is to practice with the treat in plain view on the floor. At this stage, use so-so treats for the bait and higher-value treats for rewards. So you might place a piece of kibble or dry dog biscuit on the floor and use pieces of chicken or steak to reward your dog.

  • Say “Leave it,” place the bait on the floor and then cover the bait with your hand. Just as you did before, wait until your dog stops trying to get at the bait.
  • The moment your dog looks at you, say “Yes!” remove the bait from the floor, and reward your dog with a really tasty treat from your other hand.
  • Repeat this exercise at least 40 times until your dog no longer tries to get the bait from the floor but just looks up at you instead when he hears the command.

I think you will find this happens very quickly with most dogs, and then just practice as much as you want.

Training can be fun if you make it fun and have a positive attitude. Not to mention rewarding and useful for both of you.

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Watch the following video to see how easy and fast it can be to teach your dog/puppy the Leave it command. 

Now, Practice in the Real World

Good Luck!

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