How to Train Your Dog to Drop It

Easy
4-8 Weeks
General

Introduction

There are several very good ways you can go about teaching your dog the 'drop' command, each of which can be used quite successfully. The intent of this command is to teach your dog to instantly drop whatever it is he has in his mouth, whether it’s a bone, a toy, or something he should not be trying to chew on or eat, such as a shoe. Teaching him this is also a good way to put an end to any ideas of possessiveness he might have.

If there is one thing you can count on, it's that your dog, like most dogs, is going to be amazing at finding things around the house or outside that he probably shouldn't have in his mouth. It could be one of your shoes, a dirty sock, people food, or something that could cause him harm. This is nothing more than natural behavior, especially in young puppies. However, if you can't teach him to 'drop it' on command, your pup might swallow the item, causing serious harm to himself. 

Defining Tasks

The command itself can be simply "Drop", "Drop it", "Leave it", or any other word combination you prefer to use. But no matter what command you decide to use, be sure everyone else uses the same phrase to ensure your dog doesn't become confused and unable to comply.

As with most new commands, you must be patient if you want your pup to master this one successfully. Be prepared to praise your dog each time he gets it right and have plenty of treats on hand to reward him. You can teach this trick to most dogs, regardless of their age, but the sooner you train this the better. Teaching your dog how to drop items on command could potentially save his life. 

Getting Started

Getting started is relatively easy and you really don't need much in the way of supplies. Most trainers recommend using a combination of commands, toys, and treats to get your dog to understand what you expect of him.

As with most forms of training, this is best practiced in a quiet setting with minimal distractions, including other pets, people, traffic, or anything else that might cause his attention to wander.

You will need plenty of patience and a good attitude during the entire training process. If your dog thinks you are enjoying teaching him, he is far more likely to comply. Always use a firm commanding voice without yelling to get his attention. Praise him when he gets it right and never punish him for getting it wrong. In most cases, it is better to practice this new "trick" for a few minutes each day rather than trying to do in long training sessions. Your dog loves to learn new tricks and to make you happy. With a little time, effort, and patience, he can be taught to do just about anything you can imagine. 

The Toy Method

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Step
1
Give him a toy
Give him one of his toys and let him play with it for a while.
Step
2
Give the command
Give him the 'drop' command you plan to use and stick to the same command at all times.
Step
3
Give him time
Give him time to obey but do not attempt to take the toy from him, as this may make him think you are playing and he might run off expecting you to chase him.
Step
4
Rewards
If he complies, give him a treat and plenty of praise.
Step
5
Keep working
If not, you may have to find something else for him to hold onto that he will be more willing to part with for a treat. Remember, training your dog to drop things on command is likely to take several sessions. But at the same time, it is important for you to succeed in teaching this vital command as it could save both of you from an emergency trip to the vet.
Recommend training method?

The Treat Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
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Step
1
Drop treats
Drop treats on the floor and teach your dog to eat them as you drop them (this should be easy!). You can start using the command "Drop" during this stage as it will get your dog used to hearing it.
Step
2
A toy to play with
Now give your dog one of his toys to play with and to hold in his mouth.
Step
3
On the floor
Drop treats on the floor, give the command and see if your dog drops the toy in order to get the treats.
Step
4
Eat 'em up
Let him eat all of the treats and then give him back his toy. The idea is to get him familiar with this routine before moving on to the next phase of his training.
Step
5
New items to practice with
Once he seems to have mastered the 'drop' command with one toy, try using different toys or items so that he realizes it is a general command rather than just associating it with one particular toy.
Step
6
Out into the world
After he has mastered this skill indoors where it is quiet, you can move to the outside world where there are more distractions. It won't take long before you can start doing away with the treats, but you should always be ready with plenty of verbal praise.
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The Exchange Method

ribbon-method-3
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Step
1
Give your pup a toy
Start by giving your pup a toy to play with and wait until he is holding it in his mouth.
Step
2
A single treat
Take a single treat and hold it in front of him where he can see and smell it.
Step
3
Give the command
Give the command "Drop".
Step
4
Give your pup a treat
If he drops the toy, give him the treat. If not, do not punish him simply repeat the command and offer him the treat in exchange for the toy. It won't take long before your dog understands that if he drops the toy, he will get the treat.
Step
5
New locations
Try training him in different areas of the yard or house and at different times of the day to achieve the most success.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Toby
Chihauha
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Toby
Chihauha
8 Months

resource guarding

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1115 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Resource guarding is a behavior I recommend hiring professional help for. I would start by teaching Drop It, and introducing a basket muzzle using treats - so pup doesn't find wearing one when necessary scary. With a trainer's help I would work on generally building pup's overall respect for you through regular obedience command practice, adding a lot of structure and boundaries in the home, and having pup work for whatever they want by asking them to obey a command they know before giving it to them - like Sit before tossing the toy, Down before opening the door for a walk, Sit before feeding, ect... With safety measures like a back tie leash, trust is then worked on by practicing rewarding toy drops on command, feeding pup their meals in stages with obedience and rewards to help pup get used to associating their bowl being taken with more food being given, and practicing passing pup from a distance they are comfortable with and tossing them a treat each time they respond well, decreasing distance as pup shows they are happy about you being there and anticipating a reward instead of getting defensive. Rewarding pup for good behavior when you are near and they have something they want is extremely important. Avoid simply being in pup's space, touching pup, or taking things without those rewards - messing with a dog while they are eating or have a toy can actually cause stress and resource guarding if you don't make that experience fun for them. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Baxter
Pug
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Baxter
Pug
2 Years

When out on a walk he is fine until we see other people or dog and then he just lies down and won't move until they have passed. How can I help him to stop doing this it makes walks very stressful

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Michelle, This might be a socialization issue. I would practice passing the same dog over and over again from a distance where pup can stay calm. This is easiest if you recruit a friend with a dog friendly dog to help you. Take some small treats or pup's dog food pieces in a small ziplock bag in your pocket or a favorite toy. Every time pup takes a couple of steps following you with the other dog off in the distance, give a treat or toss the toy a step forward or let pup give the toy a tug. Keep your energy excited and confident. When pup stops, tell pup "Let's Go" in a calm and business-like tone of voice (it's not a question, it's a confident, calm command), then tug and release the leash several times in a row until pup takes a couple more steps - at which point give another treat or play. The leash tugs should stop as soon as pup starts moving. Keep your walking goals short at first. If pup won't leave your yard - your first goal is just to leave the yard. When pup reaches that goal - go home as an additional reward for pup following you - even if a lot of leash tugs were involved. When pup will go to the end of the yard easily then walk to the next house. Gradually increase your walk distance overtime. If you make your goal something huge like the whole neighborhood at first you are less likely to succeed - work up to distance overtime. Also, do not continuously pull pup on the leash. Doing so can harm pup's neck, but also dog's have a natural tendency to pull away from something - so if you pull pup in one direction, he will just pull back in the other direction, budging even less. This is why you do the quick tug and releases so that not following is uncomfortable with the tugs but not a continuous pull. You want pup to choose to walk to get away from the annoying tugs and to receive treats. I suspect pup is nervous or distracted about the environment or not sure how to respond to leash pressure - spend stationary time in the environment resting or playing or giving treats for tricks and games, and rewarding pup for coming toward you whenever you give a little tug on the leash. Pressure method for leash training if needed: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Zeke
American Bulldog
11 Months
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Question
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Zeke
American Bulldog
11 Months

He was taught very early to play rough & has went through a good bit of physical trauma in his 11 months. I helped raise him when I would come to his home at the time. His original owner (my ex) abandoned Zeke & kept Zeke's whereabouts from me until almost 2 months ago when I was able to find Zeke & reunite with him. For the last 2 months he has lived with me & no longer gets abused or discarded! Unfortunately I am having issues with his aggressive behavior. Which I expected considering all Zeke had been through. I try to calm him down, distract him with food/toys, & sometimes I have no choice but to hold him down in a laying down position or he will most likely seriously start to attack me. I have bruises on both my arms & a few on my legs from him bitting at me & being aggressive. He's very stubborn, but also very intelligent! I know he is the sweetest puppy ever cause 95% of the time he is & I will never give up on him. I know this behavior is from all the trauma he's been exposed to. I need advice/help with "deprogramming" his aggressive behavior please! Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance! - Wendy W.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Wendy, Check out Thomas Davis from America's Canine Educator on Youtube. I would especially work on a lot of structured obedience to increase pup's impulse control. Get pup in a working mindset and out of the fight or flight response during times of arousal. Build pup's overall trust and respect for you, and learn more about different types of aggression, to get a better idea of exactly what's triggering pup's aggressive responses at time, so you can deal with the specifics. If you can, I would consider working in person with a trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression and comes well recommended by their previous clients for such work. It would be very helpful to have someone evaluate pup in person to determine exactly where pup needs help building impulse control and what his triggers are to work through them. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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