Here’s how to teach your dog to leave it, according to one trainer

Mischievous dog sat on floor with owner's slippers
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When you’re training your dog, it’s important to teach them a ‘leave it’ cue. Our pups often love to sniff and inspect things, and scavenge – it’s all natural for dogs. But they can sometimes find things they’re not supposed to have. They can range from the annoying – the magazine you’re still reading or the sausages you left on the side – to the dangerous, like medication or food that’s poisonous to dogs. 

So, a ‘leave it’ cue can help you keep your dog safe. And it’s easy to practice teaching your furry friend to leave things, too. Professional dog trainer and consultant Amelia Steele – known as Amelia the Dog Trainer on Instagram – has explained what you can try in a new post. Grab some of the best dog treats and get started!

“Leave it so so important,” begins Steele in the video’s caption. “I also love to teach it as a foundation skill as it helps to teach problem-solving skills and teaches your dog that choosing to offer up behaviors gets them great things!”

If you live with multiple dogs, and you want to know how to stop a dog stealing toys, it could come in useful here too!

In the video, Steele begins by taking one treat and holding it in her hand. She then shows it to her dog to let him sniff it. She says, “As soon as his nose comes away, I’m going to mark ‘yes’ and I’m going to give him a different treat.”

She gives the dog a treat from her other hand, which she’s been keeping behind her back, and says that she’ll repeat the process until the dog is doing it confidently. 

Once he gets the hang of it, Steele starts to say the phrase ‘leave it’ each time before he takes his nose away. So, she shows him the treat and tells him to leave it before giving him the treat from her other hand. 

Then, she moves on to showing him the treat. If he goes to take it, she’ll bring her hand up before giving him the chance to try again. She says she’ll always say ‘leave it’ first, so that he knows what she’s asking him to do before she shows him the treat.

Remember, all dogs learn at different paces, so don’t be disheartened if it takes your pup a little longer to pick things up than you thought. Be patient, and make sure that you give plenty of praise when your dog gets something right. With plenty of encouragement, your dog will become more confident at get better at learning to leave things. After all, persevering with this cue could even help save their life one day! 

‘Leave it’ is one of the most important commands we can teach our dogs, but it’s not the only one. Here are five of the most important dog commands and how to teach them – you’ll find some more ‘leave it’ advice here, as well as some other useful tips. 

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Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.