Drop It vs Leave It

When teaching a dog Drop It and Leave It, it's important to figure out what you're trying to convey.

Leave it is, simply, "don't pick up that thing".  The most important point to consider is the second piece of the Leave It puzzle, which is to also give attention back to the handler for further information. That Thing can be a dead squirrel, a toy, a shard of glass, or something that you don't want them to take.

Here is trainer Melissa Millett giving a free demo of Leave It. She also shows the end result after a series of progressions with the command. 

Drop It is the emergency brake, in the event they pick the thing up anyway, or if your dog is running through your house with underwear in his mouth.....and your friends are over for dinner. It's also a great way to introduce Tug in a safe way, the basics of Fetch, and other fun games. (I go over "Tug" in a different post. ) Here is a trainer going over how to use games to teach Drop It.

I recommend working on these skills a few minutes every day, with dogs (and maybe even children....)  so when either finds a dead squirrel, this doesn't happen: