Training your dog to “drop it” means teaching your dog to let go of whatever is in his mouth on command. The release command is very important to teach your dog. It can protect him when he has something dangerous in his mouth, plus it allows you and your dog to safely play games like tug-of-war.
- Offer your dog a chew bone or toy, and keep holding it with one hand. Dog will take it in his mouth.
- Then from a nearby table/location put a yummy treat in other hand and make a fist. Place fist with treat next to dogs mouth. Smelling the yummy treat, he should want to release the item/bone/toy and take the treat. If he releases, mark with YES and treat and praise.
- Offer the bone or toy again and repeat 1 & 2 about 10 times.
- Once dog is reliably releasing the item, (doing it 10 times in a row) start to say ‘DROP IT’ OR ‘LET GO’ ‘RELEASE’.
- Repeat steps 1-4 at least 10 – 20 times until the dog is reliably releasing the item.
- Once dog is reliable, and you’ve added the verbal cue (about 10 – 20 times), then pretend to have treat in fist and begin using an empty fist with verbal cue word. When dog releases item, then show empty hand and treat from a different location.
- This teaches the dog, delayed reward and to perform the DROP IT behavior without the initial bribe.
- Then change your body position and place item on the floor. When dog then takes it in his mouth, then say DROP IT (and if you want show empty fist). If he releases the item, immediately give jackpot rewards and praise.
- Continue to practice DROP IT with a variety of items, e.g. slippers, remote, tissue paper etc, and in a variety of locations and situations.
- When dog is performing a reliable DROP IT, start rewarding him less often i.e. every other time, then the third time jackpot him with two or three treats.
NOTE: for jackpots, think of the gambling slot machine. People will gamble and not win many times in a row, in order to hopefully get a jackpot the next time. This keeps them in the game! That’s what we want with our pooches, keep them wanting to play the game and work the command!