'Leave it', 'Find it' and 'Give' or 'Drop'.

As a follow on from my last blog, here are three essential commands to train every dog, especially as a preventer of possessive aggression. Hungarian Visla Bruno is learning all three commands using the clicker & a variety of objects.  Remember that as a young puppy, it's owners who impart value onto stolen items.  The dog has no idea what is worth stealing or not.  It's only from the confrontation which results from the theft & the owners tone of voice, that dogs learn over time what's worth taking to get attention.  As well as puppy proofing your home, I make sure that if my young pup investigates any object, he's encouraged to bring it to me by using a happy & inquisitive tone of voice.  Then I swap the item for a tasty treat.  I will often drop the item a second time (as I do in the video), or hold it out to him & request him to hold it again, rewarding him a second time.


I didn't see the previous post. This one is good.

Not so sure that dogs don't consider some items to have intrinsic value. They sure seem to have a "thing" for toilet paper and other shreddable paper. and of course any item with food remnants on it would have intrinsic value to a dog.

But you are absolutely right that if you play tug trying to wrench an item from puppy or dog's jaws, then that item becomes valued as a tug toy. One of my dogs who loves to play tug will bring me his favorite tug rope and beg me (happy face and wriggling body) to play.

And if an item in pup's mouth can provoke owner into a game of "catch me if you can" also known as "keep away", then that item becomes valued as a means to start the game. Many dogs adore this game, played with either another dog or a human. Probably more fun with another dog since a dog is more agile and speedy than most humans.

For trading an item pup has found for a treat, some people use the cue "trade". It doesn't matter what word someone chooses so long as they can remember to be consistent. and even if you goof with the word, your body language might give the dog enough cue. and dogs can be pretty damn smart about guessing what the game might be.

You don't describe "find it" , but I assume you mean human hides a toy while dog is restrained or on a stay, then human cues "find it". An excellent game and a potentially very useful one. Teach the dog the name (cue) for your car keys, your cell phone, and your eyeglasses. What else do you set down and forget where ?

Likewise teaching the dog to play hide and seek with human family members by name, "find _____" where ___ could be your kid or your spouse. The dog is held back while the person runs and hides, initially in a very easy place. Dog is released with "find ____" or just "find him". This is how Search and Rescue dogs begin. The game gets harder as the dog gets more experienced. The dog will always prevail of course, so child gets credited for a "win" if the dog doesn't find within X minutes. If playing with a child, for safety sake you have to set clear boundaries on potential hiding places and some places (eg trunk of car) must be excluded. Still another alternative is hand the dog a piece of clothing that was worn by the person who has hidden. Now this is real SAR work in the making. "Find him !!"

A dog who will find your child or domestic partner can also carry a note in pouch on his collar. It's not just a matter of maybe some day your dog might save your lost child's life or that of someone else.

Thanks Pam, you're right, I should really have posted my definitions as I understand them, and as I hope the dog will also (in time) understand them.

'Find It'

Since I train this by reverse chaining, I actually understand it to mean 'hold' an object in your mouth in front of me.  Extrapolating this into real life, it's essentially a fetch command, go look for something (thrown, named or hidden object) and return to me with it.


Release what's in your mouth into my hand- I train this using tug/release and then apply it to any object the dog has in his mouth.

'Leave It'

Whatever has just gotten you're attention is not on offer at this point in time so leave it alone and pay attention to me instead!  This can be applied to anything the dog wants at any particular time and has nothing do with something being in his mouth.  It can mean leave the other dog's rear end, leave the spilled food on the floor, leave the pigeons which you've spotted on the beach.  I train this using food refusal to start then extend it onto toys and real life scenarios, using the leash/long line if necessary to enforse.


Thanks for the post and video. I also find that these exercises are great for dogs who swallow objects. In my experience dogs who swallow objects have often been chased for having things in their mouth, and possibly the only way for them to keep possession of the item is to swallow it. Of course dogs swallow things for a variety of reasons but these exercises are great at preventing emergency surgery to remove swallowed items.

doglifetraining.com The more understanding humans have of their dogs the more enjoyable life becomes for both.

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