This is a quick and easy training exercise for dogs of all ages. 7-week-old puppies can learn this as easily as older dogs. This is also one of the most important behaviors your dog can learn.
Why is this so important? For one, it can potentially save your dog's life. Dogs investigate the world with their mouths. This often results in them grabbing anything and everything that they can. If they eat the wrong thing (like Halloween candy!) it can prove fatal. One of my Collies, Ranger, grabbed a Snickers bar off of the ground last Halloween. I said, "drop" and he automatically spit it out. This amount of chocolate would not have killed him, but it might have made him sick. Better safe than sorry.
Here are the easy steps for teaching drop.
- The easiest way to practice is with your dog's toys or bones
- Whenever you see your dog interested in a toy, have a treat ready and "hover" over your dog waiting for him to pick up the toy
- Say, "Drop" ONE TIME ONLY, wait for one second, and THEN put the treat under your dog's nose. AS SOON as he drops the toy, say,"Yes!" or 'click' (if you are using a clicker) and give your dog the treat
- That's it!
So, how can this possibly work? Through repetition and timing, your dog will start to anticipate the treat after hearing the cue, "Drop". The key is to wait at least a second before you show the treat. If you move the treat towards your dog WHILE you are saying the cue, "Drop" your dog will pay attention to the treat only and probably not learn the cue. So, make sure you say the cue without any body motion, then show the treat.
Eventually, you will see that after you say the cue, your dog will do the behavior automatically.
A great exercise is to do Toy Exchanges.
- Use two toys
- Throw one
- When your dog brings back one toy, say, "Drop", wait a second and then squeak the other toy
- AS SOON as your dog drops the first toy, say, "YES!" and throw the other toy
- Eventually you won't need to squeak the second toy, your dog will drop on his own!