How to train your dog to “leave it” using Victoria Stilwell approach?

Lukas leaving the meat until he is called so.

Lukas leaving the meat until he is called so.

The leave it command is very important for those moments when you want your dog to  leave something that you consider important. The training works best if the learning process was through a positive and rewarded process for better association with the cue. 

To teach this command we did it in several stages according to Victoria Stilwell on the ehow pets channel video below. The stages are very important so that the dog associates the leave it command with the action in a positive way 🙂

Stage 1: Reward the dog when the it removes its head from the treat. Introduce the leave it cue afterwards. Then say the leave it first and reward only when the dog removes its head after the verbal command.

Stage 2: Now present the treat to your dog with your hand open. This make the treat visible and harder for the  dog to resist. Say the leave it command word and reward only when the dog removes its head briefly. The reward should be given with the other hand, so you need to have an addition treat there.

Stage 3: Place the treat on a table or floor depending on the size of the dog and ask it to leave it. Reward accordingly and with a treat on the other hand.

We are very happy with the results and we now use this command to ask Lukas the dog to leave the cats when he starts chasing them, praising him afterwards when he stops.

As training of a command never stops and it should continue in any situation needed, we now train the “leave it” cue at home when we are about to give Lukas his meal and outside with something at our own choice that we wish him to leave.

Below you can see videos of us training the leave it cue with our rescued dog Lukas.

Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3


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