Teaching your dog to leave
‘Leave’ is an incredibly helpful command to teach your dog. It can come in handy when your dog is reaching for something they shouldn’t have. But it’s not only helpful – it’s essential. Particularly if they are approaching something dangerous.
Here’s how to teach your dog to leave something you don’t want them to get hold of.
How to train your dog to leave it:
- Start with a tasty treat in one hand and a boring ‘leave it’ item (such as their dry food, a sponge or piece of paper) in the other.
- Hold the hand with the item out, let them sniff and wait for them to look or move away from it.
- When they do, mark this and reward them with the tasty treat from the other hand.
- Repeat this until your dog is reliably looking away, and then start to add in the cue.
- Say “leave”, hold out the ‘leave it’ item out, then as you pooch looks away, mark and reward them.
- Over time your dog will start to look away as soon as they hear the cue.
- Try it in new places and add in distractions. You can also begin to add in some movement by placing the ‘leave it’ item on the floor, and then dropping it from a low height.
- You can also begin to increase the value of the item you are asking them to leave.
- If at any point your dog is struggling to leave it, go back to a stage where they were successful and progress more slowly.
What not to do: If your pup gets hold of something, don’t try and snatch it back. This might make them worried and they may run and hide with it or try and chew or swallow it quickly before you can get hold of it. Instead, offer them something just as valuable (but more suitable) to swap it with. Alternatively, try to create a distraction such as opening a cupboard door. Then, once your dog has dropped the item, engage them in something else such as scattering some treats on the floor in another room.
If you haven’t already, why not teach your dog to come back when called. Check out our top ten training tips to make training easy and enjoyable for both of you.