Ignore distractions and potentially dangerous objects on the ground!

Introduction - Read This First!

“Leave-It” is a command used to teach your dog to not eat or pick up something on the ground. It’s a very useful command that can teach your dog Impulse Control and also how to look to you for direction and guidance. It’s great for building your relationship and can be used to ignore lots of different things, not just food!

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When To Use "Leave-It"

“Leave-It” can be a difficult command for dogs to learn, and  for owners to learn how to do it right!

While you’re still teaching “Leave-It”, only use it when you’re sure your dog can actually do it! Don’t do a “Leave-It” for your dog to ignore a squirrel if you haven’t trained them to do something that difficult yet!

Set your dog up for success

Pro Trainer Principles:
2 Or 3 Fails In a Row Means It’s Too Tough!

Level 1: "Leave-It" On The Floor


Leave-It starts by practicing on the ground. Place a low-value treat on the ground at the exact same time as you say "Leave It" and place a "cage" over it with your hand. Wait with a treat up to your face, and when your dog looks at you, explode with happiness and give them a high-value treat from your other hand. 

Cage Over The Treat

Make sure your dog can see the treat and smell the treat, but don’t do anything else. Just wait for them to give up and look at you.

Pro Trainer Principles:
Don’t Repeat Commands Multiple Times In A Row

Eye Contact For Success!

Hold the other treat at your face so that your dog “accidentally” makes eye contact. This is what they are getting rewarded for. Make sure o not hold your hand with the treat down low or they will not look at your eyes.

Eye Contact From The Start

Now you can see that your dog is looking at you faster, so see if they can look at you as soon as you say “leave it” without even trying to get the treat from under the cage. This is the next level of difficulty!

No Cage Now

Now you can start trying to do “leave-it” by putting the treat down and not putting your hand over it at all. Be ready to cover it if your dog fails though!

What If They Fail The "Leave-It"??

Be Ready To Cover!

As you progress to putting the treat on the floor without your hand over it, you have to have fast reflexes and be ready to cover it! If they fail and try to steal the treat at this point, they get no rewards. This is how we make the command harder!

How To Increase Difficulty!​

Make Treats More "Interesting"

You can increase the difficulty of the “leave-it” in several ways:

  1. Toss the treat to make it more “fun”,
  2. Toss several treats in a row,
  3. Toss several treats at once,
  4. Say “leave it” a little later,
  5. Toss treats closer to your dog than yourself.

Putting It All Together

Now try everything you can to make the “leave-it” more difficult. Toss a couple of treats, toss them farther away from you, and don’t even put your hand on them! To help, you can also say “leave-it” each time you toss a new treat.

Level 2: "Leave-It" On The Leash


Now that you've taught your dog how to do "Leave-It" when you're kneeling on the ground with them, it's time to practice this in a more "real world" type of situation. You're going to stand up and put your dogs leash on, but aside from that, this next version of "Leave-It" is pretty much the same.

Leash Pull Means No Treat

Now that your dog is on leash, you’re going to use the leash to make sure they can’t get the treat. It’s very important that you don’t pull them away or punish them for going to the treat. Just hold them in place and wait for them to look at you.

Back To Square 1

Now that we’re making the “leave-it” command more difficult by standing up and using the leash, we have to make it easier in some way so that the dogs can succeed. So for now, if your dog tries to pull over to the treat, hold them in place, and still give them a treat when they look at you.

Pro Trainer Principles:
2 Or 3 Fails In a Row Means It’s Too Tough!

Sit For Success

Leave-It is still easier to do if your dog is sitting!

Correcting A Fail!

Now that your dog knows what you want them to do when you say “leave it” (look at me and make eye contact), you can “punish” by pulling them away if they try to go for the treat. It’s very important that they don’t learn to ignore the “leave-it” and get delicious treats for it!

Level 3: "Leave-It" For Everything!


The really cool thing about the "leave-it" command is that it doesn't only apply to food and treats. Because your dog is really just making eye contact with you and ignoring other things, you can use "leave-it" on just about anything!

"Leave-It" For Objects

Now that your dog is such a pro at “leave-it”, try practice on random objects around the house that you don’t want them to touch. Even better if you can take them away from the object once they’ve looked at you!

Leave-It For Nothing??

Practice using “leave-it” to just get eye contact, even when there’s no treats on the floor. Wait for your dog to look around and just say “leave it” one time. Reward them when they look at you!

Level 4: Automatic "Leave-It"??

Pro Trainer Principles:
An Automatic Version Of A Command Is The Same Thing, Just Without Giving A Command

Level 5: "Leave-It" On Walks​

Leave-it can be done on walks after enough practice in calm areas first. Just make sure to reward heavily for success if it’s very difficult for your dog. And don’t try this if your dog is very likely to fail, set them up for success!

Still Have Questions?

Still Have Questions?

Ask About Anything Not Covered In This Lesson

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