Is your dog a notorious thief around your house? Do you often find yourself chasing your canine companion around trying to get back what he stole? It’s times like these that will make you grateful for taking the time to train your mischievous canine to “Drop It.” 

Here’s a couple tricks to make teaching your dog to “Drop It” a pleasant and simple process:

Step 1: Pick out a special training treat. Training treats should be especially yummy and enticing to your dog. Whether it be cheese, hot dogs, or liver treats, don’t hold back! When you’re teaching “Drop it,” you are basically offering to trade a treat for whatever your dog has in his mouth, so make sure that the treat you‘re trading is worth it. 

Step 2: Offer the trade. Pick out a toy (avoid using a favorite toy) and invite your dog to play with you. After a few minutes, offer him one of your yummy treats. If all goes well, your dog will drop the toy to take the treat in return. Do this a couple of times. 

Step 3: Introduce the cue. Say “Drop It” after your dog has been playing with the toy for a short period. If he drops the toy, say “Yes” and immediately reward him with the treat and praise. If he doesn’t drop the toy after a few seconds, put the treat at his nose  Say “Yes” and give the treat when he drops the toy. Go back and repeat Step 2 a few times before trying the cue again.  

Step 4: “Drop It”. Treat. Repeat. Repeat this process over the course of a few days, praising and rewarding your dog every time he drops the toy for a treat when you say the cue. In dog training, repetition is the key to association. The more you repeat this process, the more your dog will begin to associate the cue “Drop It” with dropping what he has in his mouth. 

Step 5:  Once your dog starts to reliably respond to the cue, don’t give him a treat every time. Rather, start rewarding him randomly but still frequently (for instance: treat, no treat, treat, treat, no treat, no treat, no treat, treat, no treat, treat, treat) This will teach your dog to follow the cue even when you don’t have a treat in your hand. You can also reward by playing with your dog with his favorite toy in place of the treat some times. Always praise your dog when he complies with the cue, however.

Step 6: Try the cue when your dog is holding something more desirable, such as one of his favorite toys. If your dog is not willing to give up his favorite toy, go back to the start for a while until he is more willing. Practice with a variety of objects, eventually including “off-limits” items such as socks or tissue.

If you would like information from an Anti-Cruelty Society Behavior Specialist regarding this behavior topic, please call 312-645-8253 or email help@anticruelty.org.
 

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