Our latest training post was about 6 basic commands that every dog should know, and now we’re going to learn another one to add to your arsenal: the Drop It command.
More often than not, dog parents (new and seasoned alike) can find themselves chasing after a dog who’s got something in its mouth that shouldn’t be there, or wrestling with a dog in order to get them to let go of said dubious item.
But did you know that these scenarios could be avoided with the magical words, “drop” and “it”?
Yes, fellow dog parents, that mysterious/ otherwise dangerous item your dog won’t let go of even after minutes of trying would be willingly (yes, willingly!) dropped by your dog with just those two words.
But how? You’re probably asking.
Let’s get right on it and find out!
It’s common dog parent knowledge that dogs have an uncanny sense of picking up things that they’re not supposed to. And usually, the reason why your dog shouldn’t be holding it in his mouth in the first place is because that thing poses harm to your dog’s well-being.
I can’t be the only one who has accidentally let a piece of chocolate fly out of my hand and to the floor at some point and ended up having to execute some Matrix-style moves just to get to the chocolate before my dog grabs it, right?
You’re lucky if you can get to such items and food in time, but what if the inevitable happens and your dog already has it in their mouth? What do you do then?
One of my own dogs is known to explore a lot with her mouth, and that often involves nosing and picking up items and insects that she finds around the house. Often times, she ends up with a harmless insect to play with, but sometimes she ends up finding a dead roach that has ended up in a corner and died there after I sprayed it with an insect killer. When this happens, I often have to end up getting her to drop the roach in fear of getting chemicals in her system that can harm her.
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While physically forcing your dog to open up their mouth is a common resort, it can also be dangerous for you. Some dogs will become aggressive when you try to get them to drop something and will bite you for your attempts to get it out of their mouth.
Teaching them to respond to a command to drop an item no matter how interesting they find it will more effectively end your worries. Plus, it can work both indoors and outdoors, where your dog is likely to find new things to get acquainted with through their mouth.
True to the GoodDoggies.Online tradition, we’ll be using a positive reinforcement-based training method for this. That means you have to stock up on treats.
Interesting, delicious treats often work best for training sessions as you can be sure that they hold a certain degree of allure for your dog. And that’s important because initial trainings will rely on you being able to entice your dog into dropping an item in exchange for these tasty rewards.
You also need to prepare a toy or two, ones that you’re sure your dog will likely pick up. Because while this training can work with you waiting around until your dog picks up something with their mouth, it will definitely help to be able to control when the training will happen.
If you’re a clicker trainer, be sure to prepare your clicker for the training sessions as well.
Lastly, if you’re going to train outdoors, prepare a leash in case your dog tends to run away with toys. Ideally though, training outdoors will be for later parts of the training.
Now you’re all set for the training. Doing it in a place with minimal distractions is ideal because your dog can easily lose focus. If your dog has a short attention span, it’s also good to keep each training session short and sweet.
First, get your dog to pick up the toy. You can do this by holding the toy up to his mouth and offering it to him. You can even tell him to “take it”, a command that you might inevitably teach him in the process.
Then say the “Drop it” command while offering the treat in front of your dog’s nose. Reward once he drops the toy on the ground. If your dog doesn’t immediately drop the toy, wiggle the treat in front of him until he drops the toy.
Don’t pry open your dog’s mouth or try to pull the toy from his mouth.
If you’re using a trigger like a clicker, remember to use it at the same time your dog is dropping the toy.
Then, repeat the entire thing.
After a few consistent attempts, take a few steps away from your dog before getting him to drop the toy again. That way, you train him to drop the item even when you’re not directly in front or near him when you say the command. Nevertheless, remember to reward once he does the appropriate behavior.
Over time, you can practice the command in different environments and with different items. This way, your dog won’t associate just one toy with the dropping, and you can be sure that he will heed the command wherever you are and with whatever item he decides to pick up.
Remember to reinforce the training even once your dog has mastered it. You can even start combining it with other commands like “Leave it”.
Teaching your dog to respond to the “Drop it” command may end up being vital in saving your dog from risky situations. Just remember to do the training properly and consistently, and soon you won’t have to resort to dangerous methods just to get it out of your dog’s mouth.
Don’t forget to be patient, and that dogs don’t usually get these trainings right the first time. Patience plays a huge part in effective trainings.
Isn’t it great to know that the next time you find your dog with a dangerous item in his mouth you can just command him to drop it and he will?