Have you ever been in a rush for work only to have to chase around your dog to get your socks back? If you're unable to outrun and wrestle your dog, your dog knowing the "drop it" cue can certainly help!
The drop it cue can be used to ask your pet to drop something in their mouth like a toy, socks, or your homework. This is not to be confused with the leave it cue which lets your pup know not to put something into their mouth in the first place.
Drop it will not only help you to save your favourite sweater from the perils of a good chew but also help to keep your dog safe from ingesting a harmful foreign object.
So what steps exactly do you take to teach your pup to not pull out your shoulder when playing tug of war or ruin your stuff?
1. Give them a toy - With your dog on leash so they cannot escape and start the chasing game and hand them a toy. Calmly hold the toy and ask them to drop it. Your dog does not speak English and will therefore not immediately understand what is being asked of them.
2. Prepare to be bored - Calmly hold onto the toy without tugging and wait until your dog drops it. This may be the longest 30 seconds you've ever experienced but your dog will drop it once it does not receive the desired reaction (tugging, pulling, your excessive use of swear words).
3. Let's make a deal - If your pup has the attention span of an Adderall fueled grad student, offer them a trade for another toy.
4. PRAISE! - Once your dog has dropped the toy, give them a choirs of praise, pets, and possibly treats. This creates a positive association to listening to the cue drop it.
5. Start back at one - It is important for your dog to also understand that dropping the toy will not equal never seeing the toy again. So give it a throw and start the process all over again!
You should notice that the time it takes your dog to drop it will become shorter and shorter the more you practice the cue.
The key is to allow your dog to realize that life gets darn boring when they don't listen and the fun starts again when they do listen to drop it!
For those dogs showing signs of nipping or growling, this is a more complex behavioral problem that should be immediately address by a qualified trainer. Do not use this technique with a dog willing to nip when upset.
Now find your dogs favourite toy and get teaching!