Teaching your dog 'Leave It' or 'Off'

Take the time to teach your dog to 'leave it' or 'off' and you will thank yourself time and again for having made the effort. This useful command can be applied to food, people, items or even furniture.


Teaching 'Leave it'


For this command you need to start small and gradually build it up. Get a treat and hold it really firmly in your hand so that the dog can not easily pinch it from your fingers. Hold the treat in front of the dog's nose so that he can sniff it, but not get it. As soon as your dog moves his nose away from the treat, praise him and give it to him, make sure you say 'take it' when you give him the treat.  You will need to repeat this exercise and build it up in tiny steps. Treat as soon as he moves his nose away, looks away, moves his head away. Couple this with the command 'leave it' or 'off' depending on your preference.  He will come to learn the difference between leaving something alone and being allowed to have it.


Practice makes the master


As you progress you should be able to hold the treat in front of the dog, tell him to 'leave it' and he will make no attempt to get the treat. Begin to treat the dog with food from your other hand, not the one you are asking him to 'leave', and don't forget to say 'take it' when you treat him. Build it up by placing the treat on the floor and asking him to leave it - you must make sure to keep your hand near to the treat at first so that if he goes for it you will get there first! Continue to treat your dog from the other hand so that he gets used to the idea of completely 'leaving' the treat on the floor. Now try dropping the treat in front of your dog, or putting him on a lead and walking him past the treat, always asking him to 'leave it' and praise and treat when he does. 


As you progress with this command you can start applying the command to other objects, a purse, a bin, a child's toy, litter outside and so on. 


An impressive trick!


When your dog is becoming reliable with 'leave' and 'take it' teach him a variation that will impress anyone you show it to! Put your dog in a down and show him a treat - give the command 'leave' or 'off' as you slowly lower the treat on to his paw. If he leaves it praise him and allow him to eat the treat from his paw saying 'take it' and pointing to the treat. If he tries to snatch the treat before you allow it - take it away and try again. With practice you will be able to put a treat on each of his paws and he will completely ignore them until you tell him to 'take it' and point to the treats one at a time. 

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