Leave it is another one of those commands that is useful for various reasons. Maybe you will use it to ask your dog to stay away from a unknown substance you come across on a dog walk. You could also use it when playing fetch so you can retrieve the ball to throw it again. Whatever the reason it will be useful and valuable for you to take the extra time to introduce this command into the dogs repertoire.
The trick with all training is to teach your dog that responding to the command means they will receive something even better than what they were after. It becomes a trained response so treats aren’t always needed but they are needed to begin with and come in handy for reinforcement. Teaching “leave it” will help if you start by offering your dog treats as a reward for responding to the command. Eventually you won’t need to use them.
Training our Dogs to Respond to the Leave It Command
1. Start by getting on your dogs level or close to it, by sitting on a chair or the ground. Show your dog that you have a treat
2. Say “Leave It” while you put your hand out but enclose the treat in it so your dog can’t get at it, but they will try
3. Your pup will sniff and even bite at your hand. Don’t do anything until he moves his head away like he’s leaving your hand alone. Immediately praise your dog and give them a different treat with the other hand. (it can be the same kind of treat but don’t give them the one you asked them to leave alone).
You can up the difficulty by waiting until your dog looks at you to offer praise and a treat (like saying “good girl/boy). Delay the time they have to stare at you to make it even more difficult. Practice difficulties in stages so they master each one and move on to the next. You can even practice with real life things, like shoes, that you don’t want your dog to touch.
You can practice this a few times in a row until your pup or you gets bored. Incorporate it into a training schedule over a week or two’s time, and your pup should pick it up quickly. When your pup begins to move his head away when you hold out your hand with the treat in it. Then you will know that they are getting it. Obviously this will come in handy in “real life” situations so make sure you are consistent in using the same terminology like “leave it”, or whatever you chose. That way your pup will know what you want and deliver, especially if you have mastered the skill in training sessions.