The Dog Blog

Teach Your Dog to “Leave it” and “Give it/Drop it” 

Training is simply the process of getting you and your dog to do something on a consistent basis. Most people don’t realize that whatever your dog is doing consistently is the very thing you’ve “trained” them to do (sometimes unintentionally). If you don’t like what they are doing, it’s a relatively simple process to change it. 

Since dogs don’t have hands, they use their mouths to pick up things. That’s why one of the most basic behaviors owners want their dogs to learn is to leave it, drop it or give it. Remember that positive training is about developing a consistent behavior over time. So training sessions should be kept short, about 5 minutes in length, and filled with lots of affectionate praise.

How to teach your dog to ‘leave it’

Teaching your dog not to touch things, whether a tasty bit of food, a child’s toy or tempting sock is one of the most valuable skills you can equip them with.  A dog that knows ‘leave it’ can also be protected from harmful objects when on a walk or from an uncomfortable moment at a dog park.

Step 1:  Have two kinds of treats, one being a favorite, and your dog on a leash.  Close your hand around the least favorite treat and offer it to your dog, keeping your fingers closed tightly.  

Step 2:  When your dog loses interest, say ‘leave it’ and immediately give the favorite treat with your other hand. Do this a number of times keeping the least favorite treat covered in your hand at all times and don’t let your dog ever have that one.  Do this several times over a few days.

Step 3:  Next increase the time between saying ‘leave it’ and offering the favorite treat.

Step 4: Now offer the least favorite treat in your open hand and say ‘leave it.’ If your dog ignores it, offer the favorite treat.  If your dog reaches for it, close your hand until the dog ignores the treat and after that give the favorite treat.

Step 5:  Change the treat to a favorite toy or verbal praise, and practice saying ‘leave it’ with different items around the house.  Well done!

How to teach your dog to ‘give it’ or ‘drop it’

Have you ever played fetch and your dog wouldn’t let go of the ball? Have you ever seen your favorite sock becoming a favorite chew toy? Teaching your dog to ‘give it’ or ‘drop it” can be easy if you follow some simple steps.  

Step 1: Give your dog a well-liked chew toy, although not the absolute favorite 

Step 2: Quietly offer your golden a favorite treat and when he drops the toy, immediately give the treat. Repeat this using least favorite toys until your dog is fairly adept at dropping the toy for a treat.

Step 3: Now try using some safe items around the house that you would like your dog to drop, a child’s toy, a sock or shoe.  Repeat the same steps of offering a treat and then promptly giving it once it item is dropped.

Step 4: Continue practicing the steps this time adding in the words ‘give it’ or ‘drop it’ when you give the treat. 

Step 5: Next leave a little time between the command and the treat.  Ultimately you can praise and pet your Golden and forgo the treats completely.

Congratulations, if you follow these simple steps consistently with a lot of positive encouragement you will have equipped your Golden with some of the most valuable skills they will ever learn!