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Thread: How Do You Train Leave It

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Northern Beaches, Sydney

    Default How Do You Train Leave It

    I have been training Geoff to Leave something held in my hand, he sometimes leaves things on the floor if I am right next to him, but out in the real world, forget about it. Dead rabbit, old prawns left by fisherman, a rotten bandicoot, the world is his smorgesbord.

    Could some of the knowledgeable trainers here suggest how to do this. At the moment we are using Sue Ailsby's Levels and using the Zen approach, but Geoff can very much take it or leave it depending on the goodie he has found.


    Curly Girl

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    I have same problem with my dog. She eats anything she finds out there.

    I have stopped her from eating pegs, ever again I suspect, cos the last time she chewed one up, I immedately gave her a large amount of salty water (tablespoon of salt in a cup of water or as much as you can get to dissolve in hot to warm water). This was supposed to make her up chuck but the ill feeling put her right off pegs.

    That's a bit drastic though.

    But a dog will avoid a food that previously made it feel really ill, and you can get a chemical - I forget name of it - that makes a dog feel really ill without any other bad side effects. The trick would be generalising this from hotdogs to prawn shells or roast chicken out on the walks.

    Another method involves a very strict NILIF (nothing in life is free) plus a head halter when on walks, so he can't put his head down to sniff or eat things unless you give him permission. And then no off lead until you have perfect recall ie he will leave sniffing the dead rabbit and return to you.

    And there is also a game called "its yer choice", which can be expanded to stopping dog from taking treats off the floor without permission...

    sitting -> its yer choice post

    you expand the game by putting treats on the floor, and when the dog shows self control and doesn't try to steal any - you can give him permission to eat them all... ie the reward for self control must be pretty good.

    The ultimate result for this game is dog will find the lovely smelly food, and bark at you for permission to eat, at which point you can treat him with something more appropriate, and clean up or avoid the distraction.

  3. #3


    Firstly what type of dog do you have?? Does he bring the dead rabbit back
    Secondly i can only suggest that you have your dog on a lead at all times.At least that way you can control what he does and reprimand/correct for that behavior.
    As they learn from association them walking off lead and finding something nice and smelly is self motivation/reward.
    They must associate the smelly thing with something bad .
    No im not going to tell you what to do as ill be shot down by certain people.But the trick is to teach the dog that anything on the ground is unfavorable.
    The only food it eats is from its bowl or from your hand no where else or no one else
    If your dog cant be recalled id suggest that he shouldn't be off lead anyway.
    As Hyacinth said there are chemicals etc to use BUT its hard to use them when he is running around everywhere? unless maybe u "bait" some morsells for him and the only place he can eat "safely" is from his bowl.
    I guess a few bad experiences from a nasty tasting rabbit or rotten prawns ( i thought they would taste nasty anyway) would soon make him think twice.

    Just a few ideas

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Gippsland, Victoria


    Hi CG... I 'copied' another trainer on this one... He had trained his Vizla to 'leave it' so well. This dog would literally 'leave' a roast chicken on the ground if it meant going back to his master for a bland, tasteless treat!!!
    What he did was start with being on lead always. So, if you want Geoff off lead, then completely put away the 'leave it' command during this time- even if he picks up something revolting. If this happens, use 'drop it' or 'give' but only when you are close enough to be able to have fingers through his collar. The rationale? ONLY EVER give a command when you are able to immediately (1-3 secs) reinforce or correct a behavior.
    Right, now with Geoff on lead, start in a low distraction environment and use something only minimally or not at all desirable to him. Walk past, say 'leave it', he leaves it, reward mightily. Repeat 3-5 times. Now, substitute 'thing' for something a wee tiny bit more desirable.... Reward for 'leaving it'.... Keep upping the desirability of the 'thing' til you've covered all possible things that you want Geoff to leave.... Leave the most desirable til last!!
    And don't forget to reward Geoff with his most motivating reinforcer!!
    Of course, once you are sure that Geoff understand the 'leave it' concept, you may (depending on your personal preference) start to introduce a correction if Geoff does not leave it... A pop on his collar, an 'Ah-Ah' noise, turning 180 degrees and walking firmly off in the other direction (don't forget to reward when he comes with you and does the right thing)....
    Now, it's time to move all this to a slightly more distracting environment, and..... Start over with low desirability 'thing'....
    I know that sound like a lot of work, but if you do it in a structured, consistent
    way, and only move to higher desirability things after Geoff has 'left' the one before successfully 10 times IN A ROW... then you will get a really reliable 'leave it'.
    And then you start to work towards an intermittent or variable schedule of reinforcement......

  5. #5


    I hold a treat in my hand and close my fist, then I put my fist on the floor.
    Naturally the dog will try to sniff at it and get the treat out.

    I repeat "leave it" until the dog has calmed down and it no longer sniffing my hand.
    As soon as the sniffing stops, I give then the treat and say "ok"

    Once the dog stops sniffing as soon as you say "leave it" I then put the treat on the floor but leave my hand right next to it or over it.
    If the dog goes to take the treat, I push away with my hand.

    Keep repeating these steps and take your hand further away each time you reach a milestone.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009


    With Skip we say drop it if she has picked it up and if we see it before she picks it up we say grr leave it and she knows to leave it away

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Melbourne Australia


    When your dog eats stuff it shouldn't it can be devastating. My Dalmatian ate something on the beach and was dead in 4 was a poisonous fish.

    For the command 'leave it', I have the puppy on a lead and get someone else to offer some food he likes in a container with the lid off, if he goes towards it, the lid goes on as I say 'leave it'. I just repeat this until the lid can stay off and as soon as I give the command he looks away. I reward and on we go.

    As others have said, it is a good idea to have him on the lead when training especially if he is an older dog with bad habits already instiled in him.

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