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There is nothing worse than playing fetch with your pup and he won't drop the toy once he brings it back to you. That is unless you have a dog with a slipper fetish--then nothing is worse than soggy slippers. Training your dog to drop an item is not as hard as you might think, it just takes a little time and patience. The last thing you want to do is chase him around endlessly. Not only is this futile, but your pup will simply think you are playing a game.
In fact, the more you chase him and the louder you yell, the faster your pup is likely to run away from you. A much better solution to the problem, one that will make everyone happy (except for maybe your pup who will miss the game) is to simply teach him to drop items on demand. This is a very important command, as it will be useful in many other tricks you can teach your dog down the road.
The task is simple: your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to train your dog to release anything he has in his mouth into your hand when you tell him to. This is a very important action to train your dog as it may stop him from getting hurt if he picks up something he shouldn't and it lets him play a number of games such as fetch or tug of war without anyone getting hurt.
The command is very simple, most people tend to use the two words "Drop it!" in a strong and commanding voice without yelling. In fact, the last thing you want to do is yell at your dog as this can turn the whole thing into a game, one that can be hard to overcome. While you can teach any age dog this simple command, it is one you really need to teach your pup at an early age. In most cases, you can teach this trick to your dog within a few days. Remember to work in short sessions of around 15 minutes several times a day. Be sure to give him plenty of praise and rewards when he does what he is told.
Like any good training program, there are a number of things you will need to successfully train your pup to drop an object. Among these are:
- Treats: Be sure to have plenty of treats on hand to reward your dog when he gets things right.
- A training toy: Training like this should be started using a particular toy.
- A quiet area: The best possible place to train is a quiet room or yard, as training is easier with fewer distractions.
- A voice command: Pick a command you plan to use and stick to it. Changing commands will only lead to confusion.
- Patience: No matter what you are training your dog to do, you need tons of patience. Remember, the more stressed and upset you get, the more it affects the success of your attempts at training.
- Praise: you can never give your dog too much praise when he gets it right. It makes him feel good when you praise him and will also help the two of you to form a stronger bond.
The Trade Method
Offer your dog one of his favorite toys using the command 'take it'.
Let him play with it for a few minutes until he calms down.
While he still has a hold on the toy, offer him a treat.
When he drops the toy, give him the treat.
Rinse and repeat until your dog releases the toy each time.
Now do this but add in the ‘drop it’ command while holding the treat out to him.
Start moving the treat farther away from his nose, use the verbal command and try withholding the treat. If he continues to drop the toy, be sure to heap on tons of praise and repeat without the treats.
The Exchange Method
Offer a toy
Give your pup one of his favorite toys using the ‘take it’ command. By doing this, you are showing him you are the one in control.
Offer a trade
Now that he has a toy in his mouth, offer him another one of his favorite toys in exchange, using the command ‘drop it’. If he drops the first toy in favor of the new one, be sure to praise him.
Up the ante
If he doesn't drop it, never try to pry his jaws apart as this can be dangerous for both of you. Instead, try offering him a treat in exchange for the toy.
Continue this form of "exchange" training until he gets the idea.
Cut out the trade
Try again with the exchange of toys method and then try without any type of exchange, repeating the process and heaping on tons of praise each time he gets it right. It might take a few days of working with him until he drops things on command.
The Around the Room Method
Start by walking around the room saying, "drop it" and then dropping a tasty treat on the floor.
Associate with the floor
Point to the treats and place your hand on the ground near the treat. This will get him used to your hand being on the ground.
Do this from several positions such as crouching, standing, or kneeling. This will help your dog become accustomed to treats being dropped on the ground when you say, "drop it."
Switch to toys
Once your pup has become used to the process, switch out the treats you have been dropping for a toy, giving him a treat each time he "hands" you the toy--along with tons of praise.
Increase the challenge
Be sure to start with a toy that he has less interest in at first and then move on to his favorites later as this will make it easier for him to make the transition and be willing to drop anything he has in his mouth.
By Amy Caldwell
Published: 11/27/2017, edited: 01/08/2021