To start, practice as before, and say “drop” as your dog lets go of the toy. Keep doing this, and when your dog is immediately letting go of the toy when they hear the word “drop” you can move on to asking them to simply “drop” the first toy without using a second one. Make sure that when your dog does respond to your cue word and drops the toy they are always rewarded.
Learn how to train your dog using positive reinforcement, guided by our expert Canine Behavioural Team. Learn about some interactive food games to exercise your dog's brain. Dogs seem to love putting anything and everything in their mouths, and often they grab items that could be quite dangerous to their health. One training client of mine had a pup that loved to swipe kitchen knives off the counter and run around the yard with them. Drop It is one of the top 6 most important dog training commands that keep your dog safe, since you don't want your dog swallowing inappropriate items that could be toxic or cause an obstruction or internal tissue damage. It's also an important behavior to train because it can prevent resource guarding from developing, as well as help treat resource guarding behavior. (If your dog guards certain items from you, please contact a certified dog trainer or canine behavior consultant go begin a training program.) I love training Drop It using play as the main reward, such as a game of tug, fetch, or chasing a flirt pole. This sets you and your dog up to not rely on food treats for such an important, and possibly life-saving, behavior.
Using the game of tug to teach Drop It also helps your dog learn proper play manners and builds their impulse control. Plus, playing with your dog is an excellent way to build a stronger bond. Read on to see how easy it is to teach your dog to drop things on cue. Grab your designated tug toy and give your dog their start word to initiate the game. Once your dog has a good hold on the tug toy, say "Drop it" only once and immediately stop playing. Keep a hold on the toy, and bring your arms in close so the game of tug isn't very exciting or fun for your dog. Your dog might still be trying to tug on it, but you're no longer a part of the game. Wait until your dog gets bored of just holding onto the toy and releases the toy from their mouth. Once they've let go of the toy, you want to reward them right away with excited praise and then more play! Give them the start word and either toss them the toy or get right back into playing tug. You should see your dog begin to respond more quickly to the Drop It cue. When your dog is reliable in dropping their tug toy on cue, you can start transferring this cue to other items. Because you aren't going to be playing tug with anything other than your designated tug toy, let's look at how to make sure your dog generalizes this cue to different items. Watch this video to see Finnegan, a 9-week-old Portuguese Water Dog puppy, practice Drop It for the first time using tug: How to Teach Your Dog Drop It with Dog Treats. You'll want to practice this cue with appropriate items that your dog already holds in their mouth, such as their stuffed toys, or a chew. If your dog is a resource guarder (aggressively protects their food, toys, etc.), do not use this method unless working closely with a certified dog trainer who can help you address their guarding issues without exacerbating them. When your dog is holding a toy or chew in their mouth, put a treat right in front of their nose. When your dog drops the item, praise and give the treat as a reward. Offer your dog the toy or chew that they just dropped.
This way they learn that dropping something when asked doesn't mean that they lose it altogether. After your dog has dropped their toy a few times in a row, you're ready to add the verbal cue. Now when your dog is holding the item in their mouth, say the cue “Drop It.” Then, present your hand with the treat. Repeat until your dog drops the toy on verbal cue only. Pro Tip: Don't forget to give your dog a chance to drop the object.
Wait a second or two after you've given the cue to allow them the opportunity to process what they are learning. Playing fetch gives you a wonderful opportunity to practice the Drop It behavior with your pup.