Teaching your dog to open his mouth and release an object could save the life of your dog. If he ever comes in contact with any animals or cleaning products that are poisonous, chicken bones or rocks that he can choke on, this command can be very useful. It will also save the valuables in your home from being destroyed. Teaching your dog the words “drop it” keeps him from aggressively guarding dangerous objects from you.
This training method is to give your dog a trade showing him if he lets go of the object in his mouth he will be rewarded with a treat.
Collect a few objects your dog likes to chew on and small treats such as turkey or cheese. In your free hand have a piece of food ready as you tempt your dog to chew on one of the objects. When he has his mouth on the object, say “drop it” and put the treat close to his nose making him eager to let go and get his treat. Pick up the item with your other hand while you feed him the treat and praise him, then return the item to him. Continue to practice with your dog picking up the object again. Do not worry if you are unable to get him to pick up a different object. During each day as you see him pick up an object or a toy, you can practice with him to “drop it.” Repeat this up to 10 times until your dog does this with ease.
The next challenge is called “empty fingers.” You will pretend that you have treats in your hand that you bring up to his nose. He will realize that he has been tricked and drop the object. The first time he drops it after he is shown your “empty fingers, you should reward him with a few treats. Continue doing this until your dog is consistent. This is now a hand signal that can be used for “drop it.”
Tasty items such as a hard edible chew should be the next item you would teach him to drop. Offer one end of the chew to your dog while holding the other end, and don’t let him have it. Tell him to “drop it” as he puts it into his mouth, and pretend to show him a treat. The first time he tries it give him 3 treats and repeat the lesson again. Put the chew away if he won’t do it and practice this another time until he learns to let the chew drop immediately while you are still holding it.
Next offer the chew to your dog again after getting cheese or meat cubes that are small in size. Tell him to “drop it” immediately and pretend to show him a treat. When your dog drops the chew, give him several of the cheese and meat cubes as a reward and let him keep the chew. Show him your treat first if he won’t drop the chew, if this won’t work have him keep the chew and later give him a chew that is not as tasty. Practicing this will help you to build up to higher value items.
Use objects to practice “drop it” that your dog is not allowed to chew on inside your home, but he is drawn to such as shoes, tissues and wrappers. Practice also in your yard with items like leaves, pinecones, rocks and sticks. If your dog does pick up a dangerous object and will not release it you need to open his mouth by putting your fingers on his lips behind the canines and pull his mouth open and remove the object. Your dog deserves to be rewarded after he goes through this ordeal and be sure to keep this and any other harmful objects out of his reach.
Photo credit: Arturo Sotillo/Flickr
Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.