How to Get a Puppy to Leave Something Alone

The "leave it" command can protect your slippers.
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As a puppy parent, it's your responsibility to keep your pet companion safe. Part of this process is teaching him commands so you can control his behavior and show him that you're the boss. The "leave it" command, for instance, teaches him to leave off-limit items alone. It can protect your valuables from damage and potentially save your puppy's life. Many effective ways to teach the "leave it" command exist. One simple method is suitable for puppies to start learning as early as 4 months of age.

Step 1

Train your puppy in a quiet room of the house that's free of distractions so you have his full attention.

Step 2

Put a treat that's less desirable to your puppy in one hand and place another treat that's his absolute favorite in your other hand. Then sit in front of him on the floor and show him the less-desirable treat while you hold your hand with his favorite treat behind your back tightly to mask its odor. Always use a treat that you know is bland and not mouth-watering to your puppy for this training, because if you use his favorite treats, you're confusing him by teaching him they're now off-limits.

Step 3

Close your hand the moment he comes to sniff and investigate the treat you're showing him. Say, "Leave it," with a firm tone of voice and wait to see what he does. Your puppy might lick or sniff at your hand to try to get to the treat. When he notices that his efforts aren't effective, he'll give up.

Step 4

Say "Good leave it" when he gives up, and toss the irresistible treat that you've been hiding behind your back on the floor for him to eat. This will reinforce his behavior. Repeat this training several times every day, until your puppy gets more responsive and seems to understand that obeying the "leave it" command has positive consequences.

Step 5

Practice the "leave it" command in other areas of the house with more distractions. Start leaving the less-desirable treat on the floor and observe your puppy. When he goes for the treat, say the command and cover the treat with your foot or hand to ensure he doesn't eat it. Always praise and reward good behavior.

Step 6

Leash your puppy and practice the command on your daily walks. Strategically place treats along your puppy's walking route and when you catch him going near one, firmly say the "leave it" command and, if needed, give a light tug on the leash. While you're walking your furry pal, use the command each time he encounters something you want him to neglect, such as another animal or garbage.


  • Use toys to teach your furry pal the "leave it" command if he's toy-motivated.

  • Always bring treats with you when you walk your puppy so you can use them to reinforce good behavior.

  • Give your puppy more freedom as he progresses in his training. For instance, graduate to using a longer leash and start practicing the command off-leash in a fenced-in backyard before testing it during off-leash walks.

Items You Will Need

  • Dog treats
  • Leash