On Surfaces

  • Place treats on a table, coffee table, or counter where you are close enough to cover them up or remove them if needed. You can place them on a plate to imitate real life.
  • When your dog shows interest tell him “Leave it.” If he looks away, click or use your marker word and reward him. If he goes for the food or jumps on the counter, immediately cover the food up and take the dog away.
  • When he stops trying to get at it, mark and reward. Your reward should come from your pocket or somewhere else and be of higher value than the food on the plate, or the same thing that’s on the plate.
  • When you have a 100% success rate with the first exercise, try it with distance between yourself and the table. Ask someone to help protect the food if needed or have your dog on a leash to
    avoid any grabbing. Increase your own distance from the food as your dog is ready.
  • Add difficulty by putting the food on lower tables such as coffee tables or counters. Remember that the dog is only trying to do what works! So he’s not purposely being bad. We just have to teach him that the way to get to the food is to NOT go after the food!
  • An important aspect of teaching dogs to stay off the counter is not to have anything they can get into on the counter while they’re still experimenting with jumping on the counter. If even one time there is something tasty on the counter that they get, they’re more likely to experiment and try it again. Remove all food from the counter so there is never anything delicious up there. If it never gets him anything, he’ll eventually give up and stop trying.

On the Floor or Ground

  • Repeat the first exercise above, but with food on the ground instead. Or you can use trash with a food smell, etc.
  • Put food or trash on the ground and practice leave it while you and your dog are walking by the item. Begin further away and practice getting closer as your dog is ready.
  • You can also do this with anything you see on the ground. When your dog notices the item tell him “Leave it” and reward any response of looking toward you.

Tip: The sooner you give the command, the better. If your dog is already highly interested in an item it will be more difficult for him to leave it alone.

  • Dogs love dinnertime, but don’t give that dinner away for free. Make him come for his dinner and, if he’s been learning sit, he can do that, too.