The LEAVE IT command is easy to teach and can help prevent your dog from ingesting something it shouldn’t have.
You can start teaching this command when your puppy is around 12 to 16 weeks old. To commence training “leave it,” have a good supply of tasty treats on hand, and be prepared to have fun with your pup. One of the easiest ways to teach leave is to use leaving food as a beginning. Get a piece of food your pup has not eaten before, which is at the same time not likely to be greatly appealing – half a cracker, for instance.
Have your puppy on a flat collar and lead. Place the new treat on the ground, making sure your puppy notices you do this. When he approaches the treat, say “Leave” in a gruff voice. The second he looks away from the treat or even stops forward motion towards the treat (some pups may need to be restrained and physically turned away from the treat), go crazy with praise in a high happy voice and make sure he gets a few very yummy treats. Repeat this around 2 – 3 times in a row, about twice a day for a few days.
Once your puppy is responding well to this, try using other things to leave. Scrunch up some old paper and drop it on the ground –use your imagination. At all times, be very consistent with the “leave” command and make sure that you always make a big fuss of your puppy when he does the right thing.
When you feel your pup has really got the hang of leaving things, progress to training him outside, again setting up a few things for him to leave. If he is successful, try getting him to leave something you happen across when walking outside. Young puppies are attracted to lots of things, so it will not be hard to find a moment to practice leaving it.
Make it a Trick
To make it a trick, change the word ‘leave it’ for ‘dog warden.’ Then offer the dog a treat from various people, ‘mommy,’ ‘daddy,’ etc. Each time your dog will take the treat. Then say ‘dog warden.’ To your dog, this means LEAVE IT, and he will refuse to take the treat.