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Creating a strong “drop it” cue can be helpful for getting our dogs to release things when they are excited or get something they shouldn’t have. It’s also handy for playing fetch or tug!

Before we can ask our dogs to “drop it” in these situations, we need to train them with less exciting things!

Teach “Drop It” With Food

  • Choose a toy your dog is likely to want to put in their mouth. (BUT not one they have previously guarded or that is very high value.)
  • Choose treats that your dog likes at least as much as the toy.
  • You’re ready! Encourage your dog to grab the toy by throwing it, rolling it, etc.
  • Let your dog enjoy playing for a bit! (This is IMPORTANT 🙂 ) Don’t try to take the toy from your dog or move closer to them.
  • Stand at a comfortable distance from your dog. Don’t be right on top of them. If you feel like they’re a little tense or wary, move further away.
  • When you’re ready, say, “Name, drop it”. Then, immediately offer treats either on the ground next to you or in your hand. (Don’t wait for your dog to drop yet!) allow them to eat the treats.
    • If your dog doesn’t “drop it”, you have some great info! Your dog thinks that toy is better than those treats! It’s time to pause and find more exciting treats or to choose a less exciting toy for the next time you do this.
  • Your dog will likely go back to playing with the toy again. Great! For this first phase, you’ll leave the toy in their possession the entire time, until the game is over.
  • You can let them enjoy it some more, then cue “Drop it” again!
  • After several repetitions, your dog should start to drop the object after you say “drop it”, but before you present the treats. Great! This is where we want to go!
  • If at any point you notice guarding, stress, or aggression, stop the session and let your trainer know. We’ll help you with what to do next!

Teach “Drop It” with Two Identical Toys

  • This can also be done with two of the same toy (or increasingly interesting ones).
  • Immediately after you say “Name, drop it”, reveal the second toy and make THAT one super exciting. Reward your dog with the second toy when they release the first.

Next Steps

  • You can graduate to asking your dog to “drop it” from greater distances and with more exciting objects as he is successful. Remember, your dog needs steps in between Elementary School (dropping a boring toy in a training session) and Grad School (dropping a high value toy in real life).
  • Many dogs will also be able to graduate to having the toy temporarily removed by you and then given back.
  • The key to success with this is putting it into your dog’s everyday life! Use “drop it” regularly when playing with toys, and then reward with more play or food!
  • There’s nothing that will guarantee 100% response to this, but it can be a great way to increase safety and fun!

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