Teaching Your Dog to Leave It
The man pats the dog next to him, “She’s heeling fine,” he says out loud, “Good girl, Daisy, good girl.” He peers hard into the night; the wind stings his ears in a chilling burst; the flashlight clicking on, though weakly revealing the terrain before him in its dim gaze: nothing two double-A batteries couldn’t fix, if only he he had some extras.
He rounds the house’s corner and makes for the woods behind the house. He yawns. It’s late in the night. He would be in asleep by now if only his dog would have eaten at proper hours and not at bedtime. He passes close by the neighbor’s house, pulls Daisy away from a garbage pile with a gentle tug on the leash.
“Why do they have to dump their dinner leftovers there?” he asks to himself. He looks down. She had snatched a long chicken bone, and she was about to bite down on it. “Leave it!” he commands. She drops it immediately; whines rebelliously. He sighs; relieved.
Whether it is a chicken bone that can splinter and choke your dog, a sock which you don’t want to have to replace, or any other item you don’t want your dog to pick up, this is another command that can potentially save your dog’s life.
With your dog on a leash, let her smell the dog biscuit – then drop it two or three feet in front of her.
Call her by name and say “leave it” as she starts for the treat. Restrain her with the leash.
When your dog looks at you, click and treat with the chicken cube. Praise her as she gives up the dog biscuit for the chicken cube treat.
Repeat steps one to three five times the first session.
In your next session, repeat steps 1-4, but use part of a hot dog as the bait and liver as the reward.
In subsequent sessions, teach “leave it” as above, training off-leash in a fenced yard.
Regularly call your dog away from things that she likes – other dogs, treats etc., and then let her go back after you have praised her.
After teaching Caspian this incredibly useful command, we would regularly use the leave it command when outside with him, whether it was a squirrel he noticed, or a bit of leftovers the neighbors threw over the fence. One day, I had him out off leash, playing fetch with a tennis ball. My neighbor was out, spraying around and old stump with some poison. Caspian was interested in what he was doing, and went to investigate. “Leave it,” I said. Caspian immediately turned and came back to me. My neighbor looked up and said, “That’s the smartest dog!”
He won’t leave the treat, even for a better one!
Make sure your dog knows you have an even better treat. And, again, be patient. It is worth it to spend extra time on this trick, because it might save your dog’s life one day!
Tip: “Be consistent with your dog! Let her know that whenever she leaves something, she will receive something better in return.”