Eating Puppy

"Leave It" Cue

Dogs will eat anything! They are faster than us, too. Leave It can save their life if you drop your medicine on the floor or spill a box of chocolates. It is also useful for cats, other dogs, squirrels, people on bicycles or skateboards, etc.

Using "Leave It" for safety

The "Leave it" cue is not just a fun trick to show your friends. Dogs will for-real eat just about anything. They are like toddlers who put everything in their mouths! The goal of the "Leave It" cue is to tell your dog to remove all focus on whatever it is they are starting to focus on. "Fuggitaboutit!" 

If we put a treat on the ground in front of our dogs, tell them to "Leave It", wait a few beats and then say "OK", you can have it... will they 'fuggitaboutit'? Not likely. They will stare at it, anticipation building, until you give them permission to pounce. That is not what we want when the thing you're telling them to leave could kill them, or they could kill it. 

LEVEL 1

  1. Hold one treat behind your back. This is the reward for the "Leave It".

  2. Hold your hand with the "leave it" treat directly under your dog's chin as you cue "Leave it!".

  3. Hang out and wait while your dog licks your hand or paws at it trying to get the treat inside.

  4. The second your dog turns their attention away from your hand, say "YES!" and give them the treat from behind your back. 

  5. The treat you told them to "Leave" goes back in your treat bag.

  6. Repeat several times.

Success Criteria

Your dog turns their attention away from your hand 1 second or less after you cue "Leave it", or they will not even look at your hand.

LEVEL 2

  1. Follow the same steps as level 1 but try to keep your hand open so your dog has access to the treat.

  2. Be quick to close your hand over the treat if they try to grab it. Open it again when they move away. 

  3. Continue to close and open your hand until your dog successfully removes their focus from the treat in your open hand. 

  4. Say "YES!" and give them the treat from your other hand.

  5. Repeat until you no longer need to close your hand over the treat for your dog to leave it.

Success Criteria

Your dog turns their attention away from the treat in your open hand without the need to cover it even once after you cue "Leave it", or they will not even look at your hand.

LEVEL 3

  1. Get a hard treat that will not smoosh if you step on it.

  2. Drop the treat directly in between you and your dog and cue "Leave It".

  3. Step on the treat if your dog tries to eat it. Be fast! If your dog keeps getting the treat you dropped, they are learning that "Leave it" means 'hurry up and grab it before you cover it up'. Not what you want if it's a pill dropped on the floor!

  4. The second your dog turns their attention away from the treat, say "YES!" and give them a treat from your treat bag. 

  5. Pick up the 'leave it' treat from the floor and do not give it to your dog. 

  6. Repeat several times.

Success Criteria

Your dog turns their attention away from the treat without the need to cover it with your foot 1 second or less after you cue "Leave it", or they do not even try to grab it.

LEVEL 4

  1. Have  your dog on leash.

  2. With your dog standing in front of you, toss a treat in front of your dog and cue "Leave it!". (Your dog will be between you and the treat).

  3. The treat should be no more than 1-3" from your dog's reach. Be ready to catch them with the leash so they do not get the treat, but do not pull them away from it. Use the leash as a brake and not a steering wheel.

  4. Hang out and wait. Do NOT repeat the cue. The second your dog removes their attention from the treat, say "YES!".

  5. Feed them a treat from your pouch directly in front of you, so your dog has to turn away from the treat to face you.

  6. Repeat several times.

Success Criteria

Your dog does not try to get the treat, and you do not have to use the leash to stop them.

LEVEL 5

  1. Repeat level 4 with objects instead of a treat that your dog must leave. Only use things that will not harm them if they ignore the "Leave it" cue and you are too slow stopping them with the leash. Toilet paper roll cob, top from a can, tupperware, shoe, etc.

Success Criteria

Your dog does not try to get the object, and you do not have to use the leash to stop them.

LEVEL 6

  1. Place treats and objects on the ground roughly 3-5' apart.

  2. With your dog on-leash, walk them past the treats and objects on a loose leash. 

  3. Cue the "Leave it" if they try to go for them. Be ready to stop them with the leash (brake) but do not pull them away (steering wheel). 

  4. For each treat or object your dog leaves, say "YES!" and give them a treat reward from your treat bag. 

  5. Pick up all the treats and objects and do not give them to your dog.

Success Criteria

Your dog walks on a loose leash past the objects and does not need to be stopped with the leash when you tell them to "Leave it".

LEVEL 7

  1. Practice levels 4-6 off-leash.

  2. If your dog fails to "Leave it" (takes the treat or object) 3 times, go back to on-leash for a few sessions. Then try off-leash again.

Success Criteria

Your dog leaves treats or objects when cued, even when not on a leash.

LEVEL 8

  1. Practice levels 4-6 off-leash.

  2. If your dog fails to "Leave it" (takes the treat or object) 3 times, go back to on-leash for a few sessions. Then try off-leash again.

Success Criteria

Congratulations! Your dog is a pleasure to take places and does not try to chase or grab things they shouldn't.