Teaching Your Dog The “Leave It” Command

By Michael Albee

Teaching Your Dog The “Leave It” Command

Teaching Your Dog The Leave It Command is not among our list of basic obedience commands. This fact aside, Teaching Your Dog The Leave It Command is a very important command for your dog to know. Keeping your dog safe is the top priority of any dog owner.

The “Leave It” command provide you with a way to keep your dog from getting into things it shouldn’t get into. It will also teach your dog to pay better attention to you.

The “Leave It” command is basically the same thing as the “NO” command. I prefer to us the “NO” command for emergencies Only. 


 To begin, take your dog into a quiet area of the house or yard where there will be no extra distractions.

Teaching You Dog The Leave It Command

In order to give yourself a bit more control during the early training sessions you may want to put your dog on a leash. This will afford you with better control over your dog.

Using a handful of your dog’s favorite treats, put your dog in a “Down-Stay.” Sit down in front of your dog just out of it’s reach. Then place a piece of treat on the floor in front of him. Say the command, “Leave It” in a firm tone.

If your dog moves toward the treat or tries to take it, Say, “Leave It” in a loud, firm (not frightening) voice and block access to it. Return your dog to it’s original “Down-Stay” position if your dog has moved or gotten up. If your dog stays in position, reward with calm verbal praise, a treat from your hand or a tactile reward.

NOTE: Never give your dog the treat from the floor. You are trying to teach the dog that what is on the floor is NEVER to be taken. 


Another way to teach the “Leave It” command is to put your dog in a “Sit-Stay” next to you. 

Place a treat on your coffee table or on a chair. With the dog on a leash, move toward the table or chair. As the dog starts to reach for the item, give a small leash correction and say, “Leave It” in a firm tone of voice. As mentioned above, if the dog does not take the treat reward it with calm verbal praise, a treat from your hand or a tactile reward.

In later training sessions you will be allowing your dog to move freely around the house or yard. When you want the dog to leave something alone, simply wait for the dog to begin to show interest in the item and say, “Leave It”. Your timing is critical with this command. Do not allow your dog to touch the item or move away with it.


The goal is to reward him for paying attention to you instead of the item that he is interested in. When your dog obeys, it is important to give the verbal reward IMMEDIATELY for following your instructions. Any other reward should follow very shortly (within a few seconds) thereafter.

You want your dog to learn that HIS action (ignoring the item and obeying you) got him a greater reward (your praise or another reward), than he would have recieved from following through with his original quest. 

Over the course of a few weeks you should be able to decrease and then remove the treats, and your dog should respond to verbal praise and/or tactile rewards. 


After your dog becomes very reliable with this in your house or yard, you can begin training the command in the real world. (During Walks). When he goes to sniff or eat something in the street, give the command, stop his progress with a  leash correction if nesessary, then give lavish praise when he obeys. Do NOT let him have the item. Use your praise as a reward, then move on.

Rewards such as Verbal Praise, Treats or Tactile Rewards (Physical Petting) will help your dog learn that his action causes good things to occur. The reward you give must be something your dog wants more than the item he wants to chew on.

If you do not want to use treats as a reward, feel free to substitute your dog’s favorite toy.


As with all training, keep your sessions short. Training sessions should be kept under 10 minutes in length and repeat these sessions 2-5 times per day. Finish each session with your dog correctly doing a behaivor.

Always do something that your dog likes to do when the session ends. Playing with the dog’s favorite toy or going for a walk will keep your dog interested in training. Because there is a “fun time” following the training, it will make the dog more willing to train well.


There are several variations of this training that will get the same results. If you need help teaching your dog to “Leave It” you can contact us and we can give personal instruction. Contact Us.

Find Us on Facebook

“Teaching Your Dog The “Leave It” Command Could Possibly Save Your Dog’s Life”