“Drop It!” Command – Teaching Your Dog To Drop Objects

April 11, 2014

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Dogs are naturally curious animals that love to play and have fun. In the course of the day, they find lots of things they would love to pick up, explore or chew on. The trouble is, there are a lot of things in your house that you do not want your dog to touch, chew or slobber over.

In these cases, you want a rule in place that allows you to retrieve the item without forcing your dog or risking getting bit. With some practice, the “drop it” command can be an effective means to discipline your dog’s behavior. Then you can still live in a nice house, no matter how boisterous a breed you have.

Who’s the alpha dog here?

Sure, you could walk up to your dog and just rip the item out of his mouth. It is a dangerous gamble on the best day. But, if the dog thinks you are the alpha, it might just work. If you don’t get bit, then there’s probably no harm done.

That said, your relationship with your dog is ideal if you approach it from a basis of mutual respect. He respects your leadership, and you respect that he is prone to picking up interesting things.

Happy dogs make compromises

Start by going through your house to find something that your dog would like to chew on. This might be shoes, gloves or even children’s toys.

If you use a clicker for recording good behavior, get it ready. Click it when the dog drops the toy, as well as when you give the treat.

Present the dog with one of the items you would like to teach her to avoid. Once he starts playing with it, get a reward ready.

Try offering a piece of food or a treat the dog likes if he drops it. If this works, the treat can double as a reward for following directions. If not, try a beloved toy or chew item. Creating a positive reinforcement environment makes your dog more interested in pleasing you, and will usually pay off.

Delayed gratification

This will eventually become easy for your dog to manage. After all, if he gets a treat every time he drops the item, he will remember how it works. Now you can start practicing the routine with a treat nearby, but not in your hands for immediate gratification.

Let him see the treats, then remove them from his view. When he drops the item correctly, you can give him a few bites. Then, as he gets used to the command, you can decrease the quantity of the treats.

Upping the ante

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Once you have established the rule with some mildly appealing items, go for things that your dog would absolutely love to chew on.

This could be a tasty hard chew or a favorite toy. But when you make it harder for your dog to want to let go, you need to make the reward that much more exciting and enjoyable.

When choosing a treat for correct behavior, select meat or cheese. Give your dog the toy or chew and then ask him to drop it.

When he does, praise and give him the treats. In time, he will come to associate the command with good things, and will respond accordingly. It may take a while for your dog to get the hang of this routine.

You will likely need to practice each section several times before you can advance to the next. But, your dedication will reward you in time. At some point, your dog will have something that is either delicate or dangerous. And, at that point, you want your voice to be heard and your rules obeyed.

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