Pet Training: No, You Leave It


Welcome to the second Positive Pet Training Blog Hop hosted by Cascadian NomadsDachshund Nola, and Tenacious Little Terrier.

It’s rare a walk goes by without my saying “leave it” at least once. It’s a multi-purpose word for us. I use it to tell Mr. N (and Onyxx) to stop sniffing other dogs’ poop, ignore food on the ground and dead animals. As well as ignoring people.

It’s especially important in the case of food because the dogs both find so many things that could make them sick.

So far Mr. N has found:

  • Chicken bones multiple times
  • Part of a chocolate donut with sprinkles
  • A strip of bacon (who throws bacon away?)
  • And other things that don’t come to mind right now.
Onyxx has found:
  • A corn husk
  • Chicken bones
  • Some kind of white sauce
  • Pastry crumbs
I teach “leave it” by putting a low-value treat on the ground and rewarding for ignoring it with something high-value like liver. I think what also helps is that they have to wait for permission to eat so they learn self-control around food. 
Both dogs are pretty proficient at “leave it” now. It was probably one of the hardest things to teach Onyxx because his little Chihuahua brain could not comprehend the concept of leaving perfectly good food alone.
They can both do the balance food on your paws and nose without eating it trick. Which is fun but “leave it” can also be a life-saving command if your dogs are prone to finding weird things like the pups.
What do you tell your dogs to “leave it?”




31 Responses

  1. Roxy the traveling dog

    February 3, 2014 2:45 pm

    I have to constantly work on "drop it" for Torrey. Since she is mostly off leash when we are out in the wilds, she can find all kinds of weird stuff. I have been trying to teach her to balance food on her nose, she basically sucks at that. LOL

  2. SheSpeaksBark

    February 3, 2014 7:11 pm

    Oh yeah! Leave it is a MUST in our house, and in my life. We use it as a multi-purpose word essentially meaning stop whatever you are doing NOW πŸ˜‰ Usually for food/other dogs poop or the occasional person.

    Since I'm dog walking too-I must say it at least 100x a day now! Last week, someone threw an entire chicken thigh into one of my clients yards and I had fun fishing THAT out of someone's mouth since he doesn't know what leave it means!

  3. gabriellevannini

    February 3, 2014 11:27 pm

    Oh leave it is one of my most important commands for sure! My crew will put all sorts of stupid things in their mouth, or put their noses places they don't need to be. It's great for teaching impulse control too. One of my most common applications of leave it is actually when I am feeding or treating multiple dogs – telling them to leave each others bowls alone or if I am handing a treat down to one dog and someone else tries to snatch it, I'll tell them to leave it, and that usually does the trick!

  4. Jackie Bouchard

    February 4, 2014 12:28 am

    Since Rita is so NOT food motivated, I admit we haven't worked too much on Leave It. We worked on it a lot w/ our last dog – not because she was food motivated, but she just loved to pick up and stray object and carry it around – even nasty bits of trash or whatever. Rita mostly tends to just leave stuff alone on her own – but of course, then we are scrambling when we do come across something super tempting – like a chicken bone. What is with all the idiots who toss chicken bones all over the place!?

  5. KB Bear

    February 4, 2014 2:44 am

    I use "leave it" a lot too! The most bizarre thing I have to use it for is wild mushrooms in the forest. My dogs would gobble them up if I didn't tell them to leave it.

  6. Nola

    February 4, 2014 3:33 am

    Leave it is huge here! I had to tell Nola "leave it" the other day over a used (!!!) tampon we found at the park. Disgusting.
    Nola's Mom

  7. weliveinaflat

    February 9, 2014 11:59 am

    People don't really throw food on the ground so I have little occasion to say leave it. The one time she found some chicken bones, I panicked and forgot to say "leave it". LOL. That said Donna is really good at leaving it, if the human can just remember to say "Leave it" at crucial times!! πŸ˜›

  8. Cascadian Nomads

    February 12, 2014 2:32 am

    We dubbed Brychwyn "T-Bone" for a while because he had a knack for finding steak bones on the ground. He'd scoop it up and carry it so this was more of a "drop-it" command problem but when living in the city, or really taking your dog anywhere, "leave it" is indeed essential. I think it is the first thing all of my dogs learned! When we were doing therapy dog training, though, so many people said "leave it" (which is required in the therapy dog certification test) was the most difficult thing to teach!

    Sorry it took me so long to get here. I've been sick. πŸ™

  9. Tyesha Caron

    February 24, 2014 1:31 pm

    What a great idea to teach dogs the β€˜leave it’ lesson! It’s really wise to train our pets on how to behave around the house, food, and other people. It’s our way in disciplining them. It can be challenging, and that's probably why some people prefer to look for a training program for their dogs rather than do it themselves. But definitely not for you and judging on the pictures, you succeeded. Congratulations!


  10. Spencer the Goldendoodle

    February 11, 2016 2:55 pm

    Great job Mr.N! My humans always practice "leave it" everyday with me. Especially at night. At night, after I use the outdoor bathroom I run straight down to the bedroom and lay down patiently until my humans come. Then, they up two treats on my bed as well telling me to "leave it." Every night is different they could give me the okay word "all done" in a minute or it could be five. I know it is definitely worth waiting! πŸ™‚

  11. Ruth Epstein

    February 11, 2016 5:45 pm

    Great tips and especially as I live in the city it's like a smorgasboard on some of the sidewalks, so when we walk and she sees something I say NO firmly and in general she is quite good about leaving the foods. Phew

  12. dawn

    February 12, 2016 1:00 am

    "Leave it" is probably one of my used cues, not surprising with Jack Russells I'm sure. We use it for garbage, poop, food, cats, squirrels and garden hoses.

  13. Daily Dog Tag

    February 12, 2016 3:43 am

    I found out today that I need to teach this to my dogs! One of them had something potentially dangerous and I was able to get him to drop it for turkey. I am impressed with Mr. N's self control.


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