It’s a lovely day at the dog park. You and your new puppy are running around and enjoying the day. Suddenly, your pup stops, sniffs the grass, and picks up a giant bullfrog. Right now would be a great time for your pup to know the “drop it” command. To help protect your dog from dangerous objects, yourself from grief and high vet. bills, and that poor bullfrog from getting slobbered on, let’s discuss how to teach your dog to “drop it.”
Dogs, especially young ones, are very curious about everything. If it’s on the floor, hanging off a table, or lying in the grass, it’s theirs for the taking. Puppies, and even grown dogs, are not able to distinguish between things that are okay to play with, like their own toys, and things that could be harmful. Even worse, when you try to take it from them, it often turns into a game of catch, which is never a good situation. That often leads to the dog eating the item before you are able to catch up to it, and this only serves to reinforce that type of behavior.
So, how do you teach your dog or puppy to drop an item? The first thing you want to do is to get all of their favorite toys together. See if you can get your pup to pick one of the toys up and start to play with it. Once he/she does, give the command, “drop it.” Don’t repeat yourself; just wait for your pup to drop it. Once your dog drops the toy, give him a treat. If your pup doesn’t seem to get the concept, don’t try to take the toy away by force. This will only cause the dog to want to play, or he/she will become defensive of the toy, and will not want to drop it. Instead of trying to force the object from their mouth, say, “drop it,” and introduce a treat. Try to get your dog to trade the toy for the treat. As soon as you dog drops the toy, give him/her the treat, and be sure to include lots of praise, rubs, and love for the good behavior.
If your dog still refuses to trade the toy for the treat, see if you can find something else he/she will trade the toy out for. If your dog takes the toy and runs off with it, do NOT chase them. This will only further the behavior of chase rather than dropping the object. Instead, let your dog play and bring the toy back. Then begin the training again. Do not become discouraged if your pup does not pick up on the command in the first training session. Many dogs take multiple sessions to learn even simple commands. Just remember to remain calm and to not lose your cool. Keep working with your pup. With enough practice your pup catches on, and he/she will be that much safer.