Teaching your dog the "Leave it" command using food is an easy way to make him understand that he is not permitted to grab at food he sees on the dinner table, or anywhere else for that matter. While you are working with him to learn this command, you need to be particularly conscientious about keeping food picked up and out of reach.
Step 1 - Hold a treat out in your hand, in front of your dog.
Step 2 - Close your hand and say, "Leave it" when he goes to take the treat. Don't discipline him if he sniffs or licks your hand, but don't give him the treat either.
Step 3 - When he finally leaves the first hand with the hidden treat alone, give him a treat from your other hand.
Step 4 - Repeat this process until your dog automatically leaves the treat alone when you tell him to, without even having to close your hand to hide the first treat.
Step 5 - When you're confident that your dog understands the "leave it" command, add even more temptation in the form of human food. Set a sandwich on the edge of the counter, table or wherever he typically grabs food from. Be conscious of what he is doing, but don't appear to be paying attention. When he makes a move toward the food, tell him to leave it. If he does what you ask, give him a treat, if he continues toward the sandwich, go over and give his collar a gentle tug while you move the sandwich out of the way. Repeat, changing the location and type of food you leave lying around, until he doesn't pay attention to the food at all.
To reiterate what was said in the intro, don't set your dog up for failure by leaving food lying around. Even the best dogs (and humans!) succumb to temptation every now and then, so use common sense and don't leave your dog alone with tempting human food if you can help it.
By Stephanie Dube Dwilson
About the Author
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.