Now that your dog can leave food in your hand, you can move on to different items and situations, so they’re fully prepared for real-life. You need to know what your dog really likes so that you can always reward them with something they will find enjoyable – there’s no point asking them to leave a delicious dropped ice cream cone on the pavement in order to reward them with a toy if they’re not at all interested in the toy in the first place! Make a list of all the things your dog likes and enjoys so you know the types of rewards you can use in different situations.
Start with two toys – a boring toy your dog doesn’t really play with much, and a fun toy!
Hold the fun toy behind your back and the boring toy out towards your dog. Let them sniff it and hold it still, staying calm and quiet.
When your dog moves away from the boring toy, produce the fun toy as a reward
As soon as your dog moves their nose away from the boring toy bring out the fun toy and have a great game. Keep quiet at this point, even though your dog knows the word “leave” when food is around, they’ll need to learn it again in relation to other items.
Repeat, repeat, repeat… and introduce the word “leave” when they’ve got the hang of it
As when teaching this with food, practicing over and over again will help your dog learn exactly what to do in order to get their reward. When your dog is reliably moving away from the first toy, you’re ready to start saying “leave” as they do so.