Train Your Dog to Leave It

The “leave it” command is another essential for keeping your dog safe, whether from something they might pick up and swallow or another dog growling at them from across the street. It’s also a skill that takes time and consistency to master, so be sure to take it in gradual steps, building on the three D’s mentioned above.

To teach “leave it,” start with a treat in hand and your dog in a sit or down position:

  • Show your dog the treat, say “leave it,” then place it under your shoe.
  • Wait. Your dog will try to get the treat—sniffing, licking, even pawing at your foot. Let her try. When she eventually gives up, immediately say “yes!” and give her a treat from your hand (not the one still under your shoe!)
  • Repeat. Your dog may go back to sniffing around your foot; as soon as she stops and looks away, mark the desired behavior with “yes” or a click, and reward.

Once your dog has mastered the art of ignoring a hidden treat, you can work up to a treat in plain view, and eventually “leaving” more compelling distractions. Then, put the training in motion by asking her to walk past and “leave” other the floor.