Monday, May 31, 2010
By Linda Cole
Dogs are great at finding things around the home or hidden in the grass. Sometimes they find things they shouldn't have for one reason or another. Instead of engaging in what he thinks is a game of keep away with you chasing him, the easiest thing you can do is teach your dog to drop it. This is one of the more important commands for your dog to learn, and it can save you a lot of wasted time and energy trying to retrieve whatever your dog has in his mouth.
Anyone who’s raised a puppy knows how inquisitive they are. As far as they're concerned, anything on the floor or within their grasp is fair game. They have no idea how harmful something they've grabbed may be to them. If you try to take the object or food from them, that's a signal to the pup to run and if they can get you to chase them, all the more fun. Too many times, the puppy ends up swallowing what he had in his mouth.
When one of my dogs was a puppy, she had a hard time understanding what I was trying to teach her. At the same time, one of my cats was very interested in the treats I was using to help teach my dog. The cat would sit beside us, pick up one of the small toys I was using and when I commanded the dog to drop what she had in her mouth, the cat dropped his toy and waited for his treat. I still laugh when I think about the cat sitting there with a frog toy in his mouth waiting patiently for me to tell the dog to drop it. My dog learned to drop it when she saw the cat getting treats. So I was able to teach two at the same time. When the cat wanted a treat, he would bring the frog and sit down in front of me, waiting for the command.
Some dogs learn to drop it easier than others. And, as I found out, cats can also learn the command, even if it's by accident. It was a good lesson for me because until that training session, I never considered trying to teach a cat to drop it.
Playing catch is more fun when you've taken the time to teach your dog to drop it. Instead of having to pry a slobbery ball out of his mouth every time, the drop it command puts it at your feet or directly in your hand. It also keeps you from having to grope around in his mouth searching for something he picked up that was more interesting than the ball.
Stay patient and calm when engaging in any training sessions. If your dog is more interested in playing than learning, put him on a leash to keep him from running away. Let it drag on the ground so you can step on it. Make the training fun and keep it short.
Before you start to teach your dog to drop it, gather several of his favorite toys. The idea is to have your dog take one of the toys in his mouth and play with it for awhile. Give him the command and wait for him to drop what he has in his mouth. Only say it once. Don't attempt to take the toy because he'll be more defensive and less willing to drop it if he thinks you're trying to take it from him.
Entice your dog with a favorite treat, and give it to him as soon as he drops the object. Add lots of praise along with the treat. This might take a little time, especially if he wants the toy more than the treat. Don't try to teach your dog to drop it right after a meal. If he won't give up the toy, find something else he might be more willing to trade for a treat. Of course, you want to make sure the treat you use is irresistible to your dog. CANIDAE Snap-Bits™ and Snap-Biscuit® dog treats are two great choices.
If your dog takes his toy and runs away, don't chase him. Let him play for awhile and try again later on. It's not difficult to teach your dog to drop it, but it could take more than one training session. Keep at it because it's important for him to learn, and it could save him from a trip to the vet and you from an expensive vet bill.
For more information on training your dog to obey basic commands, read Teaching Come and Stay, or Heel and Stand.
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