Teach your dog the “leave it” command

Teach your dog the "leave it" command
Teach your dog the “leave it” command

The command “leave it” is an important one. It is a command which could save your personal belongings, save you from embarrassing situations (such as when your dog is chasing people or other pets) and most importantly it can save your dog’s life.

Imagine if your dog is getting hold of something dangerous like pills from a can of medicine you just dropped, in this case it will be much easier if you could tell your dog to “leave it” instead of  struggling to pick up the dropped pills at the same time as you try to keep him/her away from them. Another situation would be if you are walking in the park and your dog starts chasing another pet or a jogger. In this case the command “come here” propably won’t work where as the command “leave it” will.

Finally, if your dog gets hold of something of value for you, such as your favorite shoes or maybe the remote control to the tv, then you can easily stop it by using the command “leave it” The “leave it” command simply stops your dog from doing things you don’t approve and therefore it is a very important command as it puts you in control of your dog.

Here is a video showing you step by step how to teach your dog this important command and below the video you will find the instructions in text form.

How to teach your dog the “leave it” command

One way to teach this command is by using treats and reward your dog every time it obeys the command. This way the dog will learn that obeying will get them something good while disobeying will get them nothing. Here is how to do it in practice:

Start by putting treats in your both hands. You put your dog’s favorite treats in one hand and some treats a little less desirable in the other hand. Now you hold out your hand with the less desirable treats with a closed fist. You turn your hand so that your palm is facing upwards and open your hand presenting the treats to your dog. Your dog will probably do everything it can to get the treat but you do not let it have it. Once your dog stop trying to get the treat you mark this by saying “Yes” or “Good” or another short word to mark with, you can also use a clicker.

Now you reward your dog by giving it the tastiest treats. By giving him/her the tastiest treats as a reward your dog will learn that it gets the best rewards by obeying. It is also important never to reward it from the hand you were stopping it to eat from. A few sessions later few sessions of doing this your dog is not even going to notice your closed fist. In this case happens you start using the command “leave it”

Now it is time to move on to the next step. You will now show your dog your closed fist, give the command “leave it” and then open your closed hand. It is quite possible your dog will try to snap the treats out of your hand, do whatever you can to prevent this and repeat the command “leave it”. When your dog stops trying to get the treat, mark the behavior by saying Yes or Good or mark using the clicker. Now give it a reward treat but make sure it is from a different source then the one you prevented your dog from taking.

Now, you move down to the floor. You will do the same thing as above but this time you put the treat on the floor and put your hand over it. Give the command “leave it” and take away your hand. If it tries to steal the treat, stop it and wait until it stops, mark the behavior and reward it with a treat.
For the final step of the “leave it” command you will use a leash and work both with treats and toys. You need a leash which should be relatively short but give some movement of freedom for the dog.

You then throw the treat or toy close to but out of reach for the dog and give the command “leave it”. The dog might struggle to try to get to the treat/toy, hold it back and wait until it stops, the mark and reward your dog. You know that you have succeeded your training when you through the toy/treat down, give the command and the dog turn to you for a treat instead of trying to get the treat/toy on the floor.

So, now you have an idea of how you can teach your dog the important command “leave it”. Like mentioned it can be of great importance in a number of situations such as when your dog gets hold of something valuable or if it takes something potentially dangerous such as sharp object or something toxic like medicine or a can of paint. Being able to stop your dog from chasing joggers or other pets is equally important. In fact when you master the command “leave it” then you really do have control over your dog and you will be able to avoid a lot of dangerous and/or embarrassing situations.

If you would like to learn more and get the assistance of a professional dog trainer then I propose you take a look at The Online Dog Trainer and sign up to his free 5 day video dog training course. Just click this link

I hope you enjoyed this post and that you find it useful. If you have any ideas, tips or tricks you would like share about teaching your dog to “leave it” I would be very happy to hear from you. Just post your comments or questions below.

All the best.


Comments 8

  • Hello Jojo,

    I liked your article very much. I found it helpful, useful, interesting and of course delightful. In your article, you have provided the step by step guidelines about how to teach my dog the leave it “command”. After reading your article, I am now excited to teach my cute puppy to response to my “leave it” command. 

    Thank you so much for such a superxalifragilistic post. Please keep writing like this. Waiting for your next post.

    good wishes for you :

    • I am glad you liked the post and I wish you the best of luck in training your puppy. More posts are coming soon, the next one will be about teaching your dog to “stay”.

  • I really enjoy reading this article this article on how to teach your dog the leave it command. I really love dogs to be obeying commands and this makes them intelligent in doing so. This article is more like classical conditioning where you present am animal with a stimulus to get a desired response. The video is really helpful and interesting. I will use this article to train my dog by the time I get it.

    • The command “leave it” is very important and really covers just about anything you don’t want your dog to touch or do. Once you master this command, you truly have control over your dog.

  • I’ll level with you here – my dog has only just got out of the ‘puppy phase’ and it won’t leave anything alone…even if I tell it! I’m not one for shouting at animals, so I appreciate the info you’ve given me to work with here. 

    What treats would you recommend using in this training? Do you have any covered here on this site which are healthy?

    • Hi there,

      Take a look at this page, it has a couple of links which leads to sites where you can find high quality low calorie dog treats. In the long run it is important that the treats are of good quality and does not make the dog fat.

      I wish you the best of luck.


  • Thanks for sharing this informative and educative article. I must commend you for sharing this post because you must have done a lot of research. There are countless times my dog has caused an embarrassment and I have been searching for ways to stop this and thank God I found this article which I will be following your guidelines to teach my dog command.

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