Whether they're about to eat something they shouldn't or they've got a hold of your favorite item of clothing, knowing your dog has mastered the 'drop it' command can offer you a lot of peace of mind when your pup has something in their mouth that you don't want them to have.
Just like when it comes to learning how to calm a reactive dog, teaching the 'drop it' command takes time and consistency, but armed with a few clever tips and a bit of a patience, your dog will soon get the hang of this important command.
And thankfully, expert trainer Piper Novick is on hand to share some of her favorite methods for teaching 'drop it'. You can check out her Instagram post below for all the details or read on for a summary of each method.
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1) The stop and go method: "Engage your dog in a game of tug," explains Novick. "Move around and make it fun. Then, stop moving and hold the toy still. Wait for your dog to let go on their own. Once they let go, say yes or good and start playing again with the same toy. Repeat this pattern until your dog consistently lets go of the toy each time you stop moving it."
2) Two-toy trade: "Engage your dog in a game of tug or fetch and have a second, equal-value toy ready. Stop playing with the first toy and offer your dog the second, move it around. When your dog drops the first toy, say yes or good and then begin play with the second toy. Repeat this pattern until your dog consistently lets go of the toy each time you present the other toy."
3) Food trade: "Engage your dog in a game of tug or fetch and have a dog treat ready in your pocket. Stop playing and offer your dog the treat right in front of their nose. When the toy is dropped say yes or good, reward with the treat and then play again."
Novick says that once your dog is predictably letting go of the toy each time, you can begin to add in other steps:
1) Add a verbal cue: "Right before you present the trade or stop moving the toy, cue 'drop it' to your dog.
2) Delay your trade/reward: "After a few sessions, delay your trade/reward until after your dog releases the toy on your verbal cue."
3) Fade your rewards: "Over time, once your dog has a consistent drop it on cue you can begin to fade the food reward or second toy entirely."
If you find after lots of practice that your dog is struggling to master the 'drop it' command, we recommend reaching out to a professional trainer for some 1:1 support.
For more great canine content, be sure to check out the three reasons why your dog's recall isn't reliable (and what to do about it).
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Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.