Drop It!

Are you constantly chasing your dog around the house after a stolen shoe or sock? Does your dog consistantly seem to be stealing things out from under your nose? Are you worried your dog might grab something potentially dangerous to them? If this sounds familiar to you, you’re in need of the cue “drop it!” This handy tool can get things out of your dog’s mouth quickly, while also potentially saving them from swallowing something hazardous. Follow along as we highlight the simple but effective steps of teaching your dog “drop it!”

Up Your Management.

The very first step to helping your dog learn “drop it” is upping your management. What we mean by this is make sure to better manage the items your dog likes to steal. For example, if your dog is big on stealing shoes, make sure all the shoes in your home are put away or out of reach. If your dog is swiping things off the counter, push those items back against the wall or in a cupboard. When high value items in your home are unaccessible to your dog, managing “drop it” will be much simpler!

Start Small

The key to teaching most cues or tricks to your dog is to start small and simple. Give your dog a low value toy or item that they moderately enjoy, but can be easily distracted from. Let your dog play with it for a bit, then go to get some much higher value treats. Say the cue “drop it” or “release”, and then drop the treats on the ground next to your dog. When they release the low value toy to eat the treats, take the toy away and praise them. Repeat this training exercise for several days until your dog can drop their low value toy on cue. The trick here is to make sure your dog associated the phrase “drop it” with getting something good!

Practice “Take”

Once your dog understands “drop it,” it’s important to also practice the cue of “take.” This is when your dog has already dropped their toy or treat, and you’ve already taken it away. Once you’ve praised them for dropping it, make sure to give them the item back and say “take!” This might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s actually an important step. Dogs are smart and they learn to associate every action with a behavior. When you’re constantly coming to take an item away from your dog (even if you trade them treats for it,) they will take note. This might cause them to associate you coming over as their fun item getting taken away. If you return the item after they drop it, however, you can avoid this potential problem.

Our trainers like to say that 90% of the time you ask your dog to drop something, it should be in a fun environment. You should be playing the “drop it” game with the intention of always giving back the toy. This way, your dog has a good reason to actually drop the item; they know it will be returned! The other 10%, however, is in a real world environment where you need your dog to drop something important. In this case, you obviously will not return the item. You should, however, still praise your dog for dropping whatever they had (no matter how frustrated you feel!)

Practice Makes Perfect.

With most training techniques, practice is key. Make sure to continually practice the “drop it” cue with your dog with a variety of valued items. The higher value the treat or toy, the harder it will be for your dog to release it. Once they do, however, their reward will be bigger and more satisfying. This will ensure that when they grab something important or dangerous, you will be able to effectively get them to drop it. In short, stay consistent and practice, practice, practice!

Have more training questions? Want some one-on-one training with your dog? Reach out to our Training Team!