How to train your dog a drop it behavior
As with all training some delicious teats are really important, need treat suggestions? Check out our blog here of what I use with my dogs and clients.
Drop it can be an extremely useful behavior from dropping leaves your dog picks up on a walk or items around the house that aren’t his. Our dogs don’t understand the word ‘drop it’ till we actually teach it, but don’t worry we will dive right into that shortly and how to easily teach your dog to ‘drop it’.
Before we get started, it’s a good idea for us to quickly discuss what it means for our dogs to drop something. If they are holding it, that means it’s something important to them… no matter how silly it is to us, maybe it’s a rock or a smelly sock. If we keep taking away items they find important we will teach our dogs that they should guard these items even more!
To have this make more sense, let’s think in terms of money. If every time I came over I took $100 from you it wouldn’t take long for you to guard your wallet and not want to let me near it, right? Now if I traded you $1000 for that $100, your perspective would be different and you would give it up real fast, right? We need to teach our dogs to drop items in exchange for something they find even more valuable – while our dog doesn’t want $1000 he probably wants another toy or a tastier treat.
Now, let’s get started!
Do not start a game of chase with your dog
Dogs love a good game of chase and adding a game of keep-away is a great way to get a game of chase going. If your dog has an object you need him to drop, chasing him for it will often end in him having a blast running and you bring exhausted and in some instances, the dog may swallow the object as well.
To prevent this if your dog isn’t coming to you with the object, it’s a great time to try your touch behavior (video tutorial here), get our a taste bag of treats, and starts shaking it calling your dog to come and walking the opposite direction (away from your dog), let him know you aren’t playing chase and soon that game will end.
Do not just rip items out of your dogs mouth
Yes, you’re upset and frustrated. Yes, he shouldn’t be chewing our sock or the rock he found in the yard and no it won’t help the situation by grabbing it out of his mouth. Instead by grabbing an item in such a way you are teaching him (or her) they better protect this item more, which may mean they run away with it, hide with it, or in some cases even swallow it.
As shown in the video above the very best method to teach a dog to drop something is to build up trust by trading them with something they find more valuable.
The difference between drop it and leave it
Yes, ‘drop it’ and ‘leave it’ are different behaviors and it’s important to not use them interchangeably because they both can be extremely helpful at different times.
Leave it is also a really useful behavior, and it’s just as it sounds the act of leaving something and not picking it up. I only use ‘leave it’ when my dog is looking at or passing by an object, a nice leave it helps him understand I don’t want him picking it up, sniffing it or going to it.
In the instance my dog has something in his mouth then it’s time for drop it – telling him to drop whatever he has picked up by using them incorrectly we lose that training we put in – we don’t want that right? Need to teach leave it behavior? Check out our leave it blog here.
We hope this sets you and your dog up for success with leaving objects whether it’s out on a walk, preparing for a therapy dog test or even around the home.