Why is it important to teach leave it to your dog?

Simply put, to teach leave it to your dog is one of the most practical and quickest ways to teach your dog the difference between yes and no. It is also a potentially life-saving skill that your dog should know.

Picture this scene; you are about to take a medication and you drop the bottle. Some of the pills fall on the counter, but some fall on the floor and your dog grabs it and swallows it. Your dog has much better reflexes than you do and will grab it quicker than you can even bend down to pick it up.

Yes, it happened to me once, but fortunately, Pebbles who was standing in the kitchen at the time knows “leave it”. I’m sure you can think of a multitude of other such scenes that knowing this skill could possibly save his life.

Step I

To teach leave it to your Chihuahua, sit in front of him with a treat in both hands, but hold your right hand under his nose with a closed fist. He will try very hard to get it out of your hand. The second that he turns away, or backs up a little, say “yes!” and give him the treat in your other hand. Never give him the treat in your right hand, that is the treat he has to “leave”.

photo in a series of posts, this one is how to teach dog leave itKeep doing this until your dog is turning away consistently. Then add the “leave it” word after he turns away instead of “yes” and give him the treat. Keep doing this until he is consistent.

Step II

Now, drop the treat on the floor, but the second he goes for it, cover it with your hand and say “uh uh”. When he backs up or turns away, say “yes”, pick up the treat and give it to him. Don’t let him just take it off the floor. He must understand that treats come from you, not the floor.

Keep repeating the process when he consistently doesn’t go for it replace the word “yes” to “leave it”. When you are sure he understands the word “leave it” you are going to make it a little more difficult for him.

Step III

Take it outside. Start by doing the same thing you did inside. It may take him a few tries because of the new distraction. When he is consistently “leaving it” then back up a little. Repeat the process until you are confident that he has this new skill down pat.

Remember, when you teach leave it to your dog, be consistent and don’t expect it to happen overnight. It may take two or three sessions of training each day before you can confidently trust him to “leave it” when he hears the word no matter what the environment may be.


It bears repeating, never, ever yell at your dog! If you get frustrated, stop the session and try again later. Your dog will be confused by the emotion of frustration in your voice.

Below is a video of one of my favorite trainers teaching “leave it”.


Up Next:

Part IX, Teach your dog down

Did you miss:

Part I, Introduction to training

Part II, Your job as a trainer

Part III, The # 1 mistake people make when training

Part IV, The mechanics of training

Part V, How to housetrain a Chihuahua

Part VI, How to teach “sit”

Part VII, How to teach “stay”



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *