Training your dog is an essential aspect of responsible pet ownership, and one command that can prove valuable is “leave it.”
This command teaches your furry friend to not pick up or engage with potentially harmful objects.
Whether it’s a stray piece of food on the ground or a dangerous item within reach, teaching your dog to “leave it” can keep them safe and give you much needed peace of mind.
However, I found that leave it was one of the harder skills to learn. Corgis have an inquisitive nature, and lots of energy, and that can be difficult overcome.
In this guide I’ll walk you through the process I took to train my corgi to “leave it”.
By following these step-by-step instructions, you’ll be able to communicate this important skill to your canine companion.
Why the leave it command is important
Corgis are curious creatures, and their tendency to investigate and explore with their mouths can put them at risk of ingesting harmful substances or choking on foreign objects.
The “leave it” command serves as a powerful tool to redirect your dog’s attention away from potential hazards, allowing you to maintain control.
Sometimes, when we’re taking our dogs for a walk, we might see yucky stuff on the ground like garbage. But it’s important for us to teach our dogs not to touch those things.
Whether it’s preventing them from devouring a discarded chicken bone on the street or resisting the temptation of your child’s toys, teaching your dog to “leave it” empowers you to keep them safe.
How to train your corgi the ‘leave it’ command?
Teaching your corgi to “leave it” is really important. It can help keep them safe and make sure they behave well in different situations.
Whether you want to stop them from grabbing dangerous things or help them ignore distractions, teaching them to leave something alone when you say so is very useful. Here are the steps I followed.
1. Start with a treat in your closed hand
To get started with the training, gather some yummy dog treats and find a calm spot where there aren’t too many distractions.
Take one treat and hold it in your hand, making a fist to hide it. Show the closed fist to your dog, making sure they notice the treat and become interested in it.
2. Say “leave it” and wait
In a firm and clear tone, say “leave it” to your dog. At first, they might try to smell, lick, or touch your hand to get the treat.
Be patient and wait for them to take a break or show any sign of moving away from your hand, even if it’s only for a moment.
3. Reward and praise
When your dog moves away or gets bored with the treat, praise them and right away give them another treat from your other hand.
This step helps them understand that if they let go of the first treat, they will be rewarded with something else.
4. Repeat the process
Do steps 1 to 3 many times during one training session. It’s important to be consistent when teaching your dog the “leave it” command.
By practicing the exercise repeatedly, you will strengthen the desired behaviour and help your dog understand the connection between the command and what they need to do.
5. Introduce the verbal cue without the closed hand
When your dog consistently obeys the “leave it” command with a closed hand, you can move on to the next step.
Say “leave it” while showing an empty hand in the same way as before. Your dog should now know what to do and respond by moving away from your hand.
6. Gradually increase difficulty
As your dog gets better at following the “leave it” command, it’s important to make things more challenging.
Begin by using less valuable treats on the floor and slowly move on to more valuable items. This step helps strengthen their understanding of the command and their ability to resist temptations.
7. Generalise the command
Training should not be limited to controlled environments. It’s important to practice the “leave it” command in different places and with various objects.
Start in a calm room and gradually introduce more distractions. This way, your dog will learn that the command applies to any situation, not just specific treats or objects.
8. Be consistent
Being consistent is very important when training a dog. Make sure to regularly reinforce the “leave it” command and include it in your daily interactions with your dog.
By consistently reinforcing the behaviour, you will help them better understand and respond to the command.
Troubleshooting and tips for training success
Training your dog to “leave it” can be a valuable command for their safety and your peace of mind.
However, like any training, it’s not always smooth sailing. Due to the corgis natural instincts, you can face some challenges along the way.
Here are some common issues you may encounter and tips to overcome them:
My corgi isn’t learning quickly?
When training your corgi or any dog, remember that each dog learns differently. Dogs, like people, have different personalities and ways of learning. Some dogs may learn quickly, while others need more time. It’s important to be patient during training.
Being calm and patient creates a positive environment for your corgi to learn. Dogs can sense your feelings, so it’s important to avoid getting frustrated or impatient. Your corgi needs to feel safe and comfortable to learn well.
Using punishments or harsh methods can be counterproductive. It can make your dog afraid or anxious, which makes learning harder and strains your relationship. Positive reinforcement is a better approach. When your corgi does something right, reward them with treats, praise, or playtime. This helps them associate good behaviour with positive things, and it makes training more enjoyable.
Breaking training into small steps can help too. Start with basic commands and make them harder as your corgi gets better. Practice regularly and reinforce the training in your daily interactions. Consistency is important.
My corgi can “leave it” at home but not at the park?
Dogs learn in specific situations, so they may find it hard to understand a command in different places.
This tends to manifest as what you’ve described, your corgi may know “leave it” at home but not at the park. To help your dog learn the command in various locations, you need to practice consistently.
Start by practicing “leave it” in different parts of your home, adding distractions to make it more challenging. You can put toys or treats on the floor and tell your corgi to leave them alone. Once they get good at this in a controlled environment, move on to more difficult situations.
When you start training at the park, begin in a less busy area and gradually increase the distractions over time. Show your corgi different things, like other dogs, people, or interesting smells, while always reinforcing the “leave it” command. Be patient and slowly help your dog get used to distractions.
Using extra special rewards during park training can also help. Since the park is more exciting for your corgi, using treats or toys they really love can get their attention and reinforce the behaviour of leaving things alone.
Consistency is very important. Make sure everyone who trains your corgi, including family and friends, uses the same command and techniques to reinforce “leave it.” This consistency helps your dog understand that the command works everywhere, not just at home.
Remember to keep training sessions short and positive. Always end on a good note and celebrate your corgi’s achievements at the park, no matter how small they are.
My corgi gets distracted when learning the command?
Sometimes dogs, like corgis, can easily get distracted when learning the “Leave it” command. But you can help your corgi improve their self-control and focus by taking it step by step.
Start in a quiet room at home where there are not many distractions. Show your corgi a treat in your closed hand and say “Leave it.” When your corgi looks away or loses interest in the treat, reward them with a different treat or praise. Repeat this a few times until your corgi consistently responds to the command in this simple situation.
Once your corgi is doing well in the quiet room, gradually add more distractions. For example, you can toss a toy nearby or have someone walk past with minimal movement. If your corgi gets distracted, calmly bring their attention back to you and reinforce the command. Give them a reward when they listen to you.
As your corgi improves, you can increase the difficulty of the distractions. This might mean having someone walk by with a more interesting toy or treat, or practicing in a different room with more things going on. The important thing is to make things harder little by little, always making sure your corgi can succeed before moving on.
During training, stay patient and don’t get frustrated. Corgis are active dogs. They love to snoop about, and it can be hard for them to ignore exciting things. Use positive reinforcement, like treats, praise, or play, to reward your corgi when they focus on you and ignore distractions.
My corgi doesn’t want their treat?
When initially teaching the “leave it” command, use high-value rewards such as their favorite treats or toys. As your dog becomes more proficient, you can gradually transition to lower-value rewards or verbal praise.
You also need to engage your corgi with the treat. Lots of people start with a close fist, not realising that their corgi has yet seen it.
Present your open hand to them and let them make the decision that they want it before you start.
I’m feeling stuck with training?
If you’re having trouble or feeling unsure about training your corgi to follow the “leave it” command, getting help from a professional dog trainer can be very helpful. They are experts who have experience working with different dog breeds, including corgis, and can give you personalized guidance based on your specific situation.
A professional trainer will observe your corgi’s behaviour, identify any challenges or difficulties, and create a training plan to address them. They can teach you different training techniques, demonstrate them to you, and guide you through the process step by step. They will also help you understand how your corgi learns and adjust the training methods to suit their needs.
Working with a professional trainer ensures that you’re using the best and most humane training methods. They will show you how to communicate effectively with your corgi, understand their body language, and modify the training techniques based on their responses.
Apart from providing practical help, professional trainers can offer support and encouragement when you feel frustrated or stuck. They know that training a dog takes time and patience, and they will help you stay motivated throughout the process.
When choosing a trainer, look for someone who uses positive reinforcement training methods. These methods are effective, based on rewards, and help build a good relationship between you and your corgi. You can ask your veterinarian, local dog clubs, or friends for recommendations.
Remember, seeking help from a professional trainer is not a sign of failure. It’s a proactive step towards achieving the results you want. They have the knowledge and expertise to guide you and your corgi to success in training the “leave it” command and any other training goals you have.
Final thoughts on training your corgi to ‘leave it’
Teaching your dog to “leave it” is very important for keeping them safe and healthy.
By following the steps in this guide, you’ll be able to teach your dog to resist temptations and stay away from things that could harm them. Just remember that training takes time, and you need to be consistent and patient.
By using positive rewards and reinforcement, you’ll help your dog make good choices and live a happier and healthier life. Oh, and here are a few more bonus skills you can teach your corgi.
- How to Train Your Corgi to Heel
- How to Train Your Corgi to Sit
- How to Train Your Corgi to Lie Down
- How to Train Your Corgi to Stay
Enjoy – and have fun!