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Teach the 'Leave It' Command
in 9 easy steps

illustration of man teaching his dog the Leave It command
Leave It!

An easy-to-teach but extremely valuable command is 'leave it' when you don't want your dog to pick up something in his mouth.

This is usually used to prevent a dog from picking up something smelly or potentially dangerous object he finds outside but can be used whenever you want him to 'leave it' even if the 'it' is your brand new shoes on the bedroom floor or the cat next door.

Here are 9 steps to teaching this command.

1. Put a halter and leash on your dog. (Remember, small dogs do not do well with collars and leashes. It's too easy to harm a tiny neck when you pull on the leash. Use a halter instead.)

2. Show your dog a desirable treat or toy (but keep it out of his range).

3. Put the toy or treat on the floor and stand up. Or you can put the treat or toy on a low coffee table (so your dog can see the treat) in front of the sofa where you're sitting. Your dog should be on his leash at your feet.

4. When he starts toward the treat, say in a firm voice 'Leave It.' Hold onto his leash so he can't reach the treat.

5. If he looks up at you, say "good dog' in a sweet voice and give him a happy pat.

6. Then throw the treat away or hide the toy. Yes, I mean do not give him the treat. You want him to 'leave it' not 'wait for it.'

7. You will need to repeat this process several times before your dog gets it. Once your dog looks at you and leaves the treat alone, you praise him and throw the treat away.

8. The best training sessions are frequent but short. Practice this no longer than
5-minutes for several days until your dog reliably understands the command.

9. Use other objects beside toys once your dog grasps the command. Practice makes perfect.

Once he's good with objects, try the command in more sophtisicated situations such as when he sees a squirrel he'd like to chase.

Learning the 'Leave It' command will make your trips outside safer and more pleasant for you both.


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