There are many times in life that we will need our dogs to drop the objects that they are holding, whether that be a toy you want to throw for them or the sky remote that they have stolen. The drop command means give me what you already have whereas the leave it means don’t touch.
The first step is to teach a ‘swapsie’. You will need at least 2 different toys, one of the dogs favourites and one which they are not as bothered about.
- Engage in a game of tug with your dog and their least favourite toy.
- When they are holding the toy firmly, let go of the toy in their mouth and divert all your attention to a different favourite toy.
- Play around with the favourite toy on your own, until your dog releases the toy in their mouth and comes to investigate what you’re doing. Immediately praise and reward with a game of tug with the favourite toy.
- Repeat step 2, and see if you can make their least favourite toy exciting enough for them to leave their favourite, and come to play with you. If they do, praise and reward with a game and repeat. If not, show them a tasty treat you have and swap the toy for the treat, and repeat from the beginning.
- Once your dog is performing swapsies very reliably (i.e. as soon as you let go of their toy and pick up another they are releasing their toy), you can hold the swapsie toy away from them, and wait for them to drop their current toy.
- Once they’ve released it, praise and reward with a game and repeat.
- When you can easily stand up, hold the 2nd toy and the dog will quickly and reliably drop their current toy in anticipation of a game with the new one, you can add in the drop command. As the dog starts to release the toy from its mouth, introduce your ‘drop’ command.
- Make sure you say the command as the dog is releasing the toy not once the toy has already been dropped as it is the action of opening their mouth that we want to pair with the command.
- Reward the dog with the toy and game and repeat and practice.