Teaching your BC to drop-it is very important. Why? Well, if you have ever had a young puppy, you know that it is one giant mouth gobbling up whatever is in sight. Rumor has it that Stephen Hawking actually got the idea of the black hole from his puppy’s ever-consuming mouth. Joking aside, sometimes valuable and dangerous things go into that mouth, and the command to “drop it” may save your family heirloom, over even perhaps your dog’s life.
If you teach your dog correctly, when you give the command “drop it,” he will open his mouth and drop whatever is in there. Most importantly, he will not only drop the item, but he will allow you to retrieve it without protest. When teaching the drop-it command you must offer a good trade for what your dog has in his mouth. You need to out-treat your dog by offering a better treat of higher value in exchange for what he has in his mouth. In addition, it is a good idea to stay calm and not to chase your puppy, as this elicits a play behavior that can work against your desired training outcomes.
If this command is successfully taught, your puppy will actually enjoy hearing “drop it.” This command will also build trust between the two of you. In example, if you say, “drop it,” then you retrieve the item, and afterward you give a treat, he will know that you are not there simply to steal the thing he has found. Because of the trust that will develop, he will not guard his favorite toys, or food. Negative behaviors, such as guarding, can be avoided with this, and socialization types training.
Teach “Drop It” Like This
– Gather a variety of good treats, and a few items your dog might like to chew on, such as a favorite toy, or a rawhide chew. With a few treats in hand, encourage your dog to chew on one of the toys. When the item is in his mouth, put a treat close to his nose and say, “drop it!” As soon as he opens his mouth, click and treat him as you pick up the item. Then, return the item to your dog.
At this point, your dog may not want to continue to chew on the item because there are treats in the area, and his mouth is now free to consume. If he appears now to be distracted by the treats you possess, rather than the chew-toy, you can take this as an opportunity to pause the training.
Be sure and keep the treats handy though, because throughout the day when you see him pick something up, you both can practice the drop-it command. Do this at least ten times per day, or until this command is mastered.
In the event that he picks up a forbidden item you may not want to give back to him, instead, give your puppy an extra tasty treat, or a supersized serving as an equitable exchange for the item that you confiscate. You want your puppy to be redirected, and he should be properly rewarded for his compliance.
– Once you have done the treat-to-the-nose drop-it command ten times, try doing it without holding the treat to his nose. Continue to use your hand, but this time it should be empty. Say the command, and when he drops the item, click and treat. Make sure the first time he drops it, when you are not holding a treat to his nose, that you give him a supersized treat serving from a different hand. Practice this over a few days and training sessions. Do not rush to the next step until his response is consistently compliant, and training is successful.
– This next part of the drop-it training will further reinforce the command, in particular during situations where a tug-of-war between you may ensue. This time you will want to use a treat that your dog might find extra special, like a hard chew pig ear or rawhide, making sure that it is something that cannot be consumed quickly. Next, hold this new chewy in your hand and offer it to your dog, but this time do not let it go. When your dog has the chewy in his mouth, say, “drop it.” When your dog drops it for the first time, C/T, being sure to give your dog extra treats, and then offer the chew back to him to keep.
Because better treats are available, he may not take the chewy back. Recognize this as a good sign, but it also signals a time for a break. Later, repeat this training about a dozen times before you move on to the next phase of “drop it.” If your dog is not dropping it after clicking, then the next time use a higher value treat.
– For the next phase of the “drop it” command training, repeat the exercise above, but this time do not hold onto the chew, just let him have it. As soon as your dog has it in his mouth, give the command “drop it.” When your dog drops the chewy, C/T a supersized portion, then be sure to give the chew back to him to keep. Your dog will be thrilled by this exchange. Once you have successfully done this a dozen times, move onto the next step.
During this exercise, if your dog does not drop the chewy, it will be necessary to show the treat first, as incentive. Once he realizes that you hold treats, you will want to work up to having him drop-it before the treat is given. This in actuality is bribery, and I do not suggest utilizing this action as a short cut elsewhere during training. Remember, only use this method as a last resort, and discontinue it quickly.
– Try this command with the things around the house that he is not supposed to chew on, such as pens, chip bags, socks, gloves, tissues, your shoes, or that 15th century Guttenberg bible.
After you and your dog have achieved success indoors with this command, try the exercise outside where there are plenty of distractions. To hold his attention when you are moving into further distracting situations, be sure and have with you the best of treats. Keep in mind that your goal is to have the drop-it command obeyed in any situation.
– Practice the drop-it command when playing fetch, and other games. For example, when your dog returns to you with his ball, command “drop it,” and when he complies, offer up the magic duo of praise, plus a treat.
– Gradually phase out the clicking and treating of your dog every time that he drops something on command. Progressively reduce treating by first treating one out of two times, then one out three times, followed by one out of four, five, six, and finally not at all.
Always remain aware of your dog’s abilities, and his individual pace, being sure not to decrease treating too rapidly. The desired outcome of this training is that your dog will obey all commands by a vocal or physical cue, without a reward.
Know These Things-
– If your BC already likes to try to incite games of grab and chase with you, it is best to curb this behavior from the onset by teaching your dog that you will not chase after him if he thieves and bolts. If your dog grabs and runs, completely ignore him. For you to be effective here, it means that you do not indicate your disapproval with any sort of eye contact, body language, or vocalization. He will quickly get bored, and drop the item on his own.
– If your dog refuses to drop an item, you may have to retrieve it manually. You can do this by placing your hand over the top of your dog’s muzzle, and with your index finger and thumb placed on either side of his upper lip, firmly pinch it into his teeth. Before utilizing this technique, it is best to attempt to calm your dog’s excitement as much as possible. In most cases, your dog will open its mouth to avoid the discomfort, and at this time, you can retrieve the item, whatever it may be. This may take a couple of practices to get the correct pressure and the most effective location to apply it.
In the rare instance that this fails, you can simply use both hands and try to separate the jaws by slowly pulling, not jerking, the upper and lower jaws apart. Think crocodile handler, minus the severed limbs.
-Another trick for distracting your puppy’s attention is by rapping your knuckles on a hard surface, emulating a knock at the door. Often, a puppy will want to investigate what he perceives as a guests arrival, thus dropping whatever is in his mouth to greet the nonexistent visitor.
~ Paws On – Paws Off ~