Teaching your dog the ‘leave it’ command can come in extremely useful. Sometimes, it might simply help you avoid a mess, or your dog getting into something they shouldn’t be. But other times, it could even be the difference between your dog being safe and getting injured or hurt.
But, how do you teach your puppy this command, and when can you start doing so? Dog trainer and behaviorist Louise Glazebrook has explained everything you need to know in a recent Instagram post so that you can help keep your pup safe with just a bit of dedicated training (and some of the best dog treats too!)
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First, get some treats in one hand. And then hold them just out of your dog’s way. “When he looks away, he’ll be rewarded,” explains Glazebrook. At this point, you don’t need to worry about the ‘leave it’ cue itself – it’ll come. “You just need to teach them with something that’s quite boring – that when it’s there, they actually get rewarded for looking away from it, and then we can build on that,” she says.
Glazebrook explains in the caption that you need to make it a game, and then the rest will follow.
Something else you can try, particularly when it comes to puppies, is ‘fair trade’. Often, young dogs will use their nose and mouth a lot, as they help them to make sense of their world and their environment.
This is something you should encourage, but only when they’re doing so safely, and they aren’t investigating something that could be dangerous. So, rather than taking it from them, you offer them something better, or more desirable, in exchange.
This way, if your puppy ever does get into something that might be harmful, you can quickly trade it for something else – they’ll be used to you offering them something better.
We think that ‘leave it’ is one of the five most important dog commands, because of how vital it can be in keeping our pups safe. It’s much more advisable to teach this command rather than removing things from your dog’s mouth by force – obviously, if this is the only option and you need to quickly remove something to keep them safe, that’s understandable – but doing this often can lead to guarding.
So, why not start teaching your dog the ‘leave it’ cue with Glazebrook’s advice today? Show your dog that you’re not someone who just takes things from them – you’re someone who’ll offer them something desirable, like a treat, instead.
If you’d like to start training this cue but you live alone, or it’ll be you doing the majority of the work, you might find this article useful: 25 practical tips for training your dog on your own.
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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.