If your dog doesn’t know the command “drop it,” there’s still time to teach it to him before Halloween festivities, the time when pups everywhere will have their noses to the ground looking for leftover treats.
From firsthand experience, you already know that dogs explore the world with their noses and mouths, and pick up all types of unsavory items in the process. And this is the very reason why “Drop It,” (or “Drop”) is such a critical command for dogs to know. Once mastered and upon hearing “Drop It,” your dog will spit out the Halloween candy, toy squeaker dislodged from his toy, chicken bone, “kitty roca” or anything else he’s just picked up with into his mouth. This command will spare him potential injury and could even be a life saver, and it also comes in handy when you need your dog to drop a toy in a game of fetch or tug o’ war.
Teaching your Dog to “Drop It”
What You Need
- Two or three of your dog’s favorite toys, the type he takes in his mouth
- The tastiest dog treats you can find, perhaps small pieces of meat or cheese or Natural Balance
- A dog leash
- Begin teaching your dog in a quiet spot without any distractions so your dog can focus. Once your dog succeeds there, replicate the steps in other settings where you’ll be using the command, such as at the dog park or during a walk.
- Start with your dog on a leash and give him one of the toys to play with. You’ll want your dog on a leash so he won’t run off with the toy.
- First, introduce the concept of trading one item for another. Give the command “Drop It” and place the irresistible treat right in front of your dog’s nose. When your dog drops the toy to take the treat, give him the treat and plenty of praise. If your dog is not interested in the treat, consider better treats, or a hungrier student.
- Next, give your dog the toy again and then the treat, and repeat the steps until he is consistently dropping the toy on command. Continue these steps during different training sessions, for instance, 3-4 hours apart and on consecutive days.
- Then raise the stakes to be sure your dog’s behavior is consistent in all situations, and he will drop anything when he hears the “Drop It” command. Repeat the steps above when your dog has an even more appealing item in his possession – for instance, a bully stick, his all-time favorite toy, or even your pizza crust.
- Lastly, practice the command in other settings, and have others give him the command to make sure it’s solid.
Once your dog is consistently and quickly dropping an item on command, you’re in good shape and can phase out treats, but do continue to lavish your pup with praise for a job well done, he will be listening for it. Good luck!
See more training tips in the Perfect Petiquette Tip Archives.
Thank you to Kyle May on flickr for his photo of Biggie.