How to Teach your Dog to Drop Objects

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. July 25, 2017
How to Teach your Dog to Drop Objects

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Teaching a dog to drop objects is a very useful exercise for training, playing and avoiding the destruction of valuables! During this exercise, as well as teaching your dog to release things, you can let them have fun playing tug of war or fetch.

Most coaches who compete in canine sports take advantage of games to train their dogs. Whilst food and treats are excellent reinforcers to train new behaviors, they generally do not provide the intense motivation that games offer.

In this AnimalWised article, we will explain how to teach your dog to drop objects and things of any kind like toys and balls. Keep reading!

You may also be interested in: How to Teach a Puppy to Fetch

The instinctive behaviors of dogs, like hunting, are most used in training because they can be channeled with ease. Among these behaviors, the most used are those that lead to capture. Tug-of-war games provide a simple way to simulate these predatory behaviors and are therefore very useful for efficient learning.

Another advantage of using games during training is that food is no longer the only positive reinforcer possible. In this way, the variety of available reinforcers is larger and reinforcers capable of competing with some environmental distractions can be achieved. It will also depend on the dog being attracted to one game or another. Retrievers, for example, are often more motivated by catching games such as throwing a ball than by tug-of-war games.

In this article, you will learn how to teach your dog how to release a toy that they are playing with during tug-of-war. However, before you start you should keep in mind certain rules to make the game useful and safe.

Rules prior to teaching the order "Release "

  • Never forcibly remove the toy: Especially if your dog has not yet learned, growls or seems unwilling to offer it, you should never remove the ball from their mouth by force. Firstly because you can hurt their teeth or they can hurt you, and second, your dog will think you want to take the toy and it will be more difficult to educate them in the collection of objects.
  • Do not hide the toy: Your dog should always have the toy in sight because the game is not about who gets the toy, but about having fun. Your dog should not have the feeling that they must protect the toy, but that sharing equals a good time. This is when the first signs of resource protection appear.
  • Your dog should not bite your hands or your clothes: If your dog misses and ends up hitting you with their teeth, you must stop the game and change environment or situation for a while. It is a way of teaching them that when they get rough, we will not continue to play with them.
  • Choosing a place of play: Playing with a ball indoors can be a bit risky for your furniture to say the least. It is advisable to set a place where your dog can play calmlyThis way you're creating a state of privacy that increases motivation for play. We can affirm that the dog will be hungry for play but doesn't feel like you're taking it away from them when at home.
How to Teach your Dog to Drop Objects -

How to teach a dog to drop objects

For your dog to release the object they hold in their mouth you will need more than commands and caresses. A tasty prize such as a snack for dogs, bits of Frankfurter or some feed will be ideal. The prize must be chosen according to what your dog loves most. Usually, food is the best reward!

Follow this step by step:

  1. Offer your dog the ball and let them play with it.
  2. Capture their attention and say "Release " while you show them a piece of food.
  3. The dog's natural instinct will be to resort to the tasty treat and release the ball.
  4. Grab the ball and throw it again.
  5. Repeat the procedure for 5 to 10 minutes.

This simple step by step will teach your dog to correctly relate the verbal indication "Release " with the very act of leaving the ball. In addition, by returning the ball and following the game the dog will understand that you do not try to steal it.

How to Teach your Dog to Drop Objects - How to teach a dog to drop objects

When they know the command

Once your dog has learned to drop objects, then it is time to continue practicing so that this behavior is not forgotten or they may begin to develop parallel behaviors. The ideal thing is to practice obedience every day between 5 and 10 minutes, reviewing all the commands already learned including the collection of objects at this time.

In addition, we will begin to substitute the food and offer congratulations or caresses. Varying the "prize" will give them a positive response, whether or not they have food. It will also be helpful to practice the same order in different places such as your local dog park. We can also vary the type of toy that the dog practices with.

How to Teach your Dog to Drop Objects - When they know the command

Common problems when practicing command

  • If your dog shows signs of aggression, grunting or resource protection (a dog that is possessive and jealous of your things), we encourage you to consult a professional. In principle, if you do not try to remove the toy and do the exercise properly, you could be at risk of a bite - either accidentally or intentionally.
  • The most frequent problem with this procedure is that dogs can be so stimulated with the game that they bite whatever they find in front of them, even if those things are your hands or your clothes. In these cases you should avoid scolding them. It will suffice to say a simple "No" and stop participating in the game for a while. If you disagree with running these small risks, do not do the exercise.
  • If you do not feel comfortable practicing this exercise, do not do it. Exercise is complicated for many people who do not have experience in training, so do not feel bad if you do not do this exercise. A professional can help.
  • Although the idea of exercise is that the game is quite active, be careful not to make very sudden movements that can hurt your dog, especially if they are a puppy. You can injure the muscles and vertebrae of your dog's neck and back if you move the toy very violently while they bite it.
  • Do not do this exercise with dogs that have bone or joint problems, such as hip or elbow dysplasia.
  • Watch with intense play if your dog is a molosser type. Remember that it is difficult for them to breathe properly and that they can suffer a heat stroke if you combine intense exercise and heat.
  • Do not train immediately after your dog has eaten or taken plenty of water. Similarly, wait at least an hour for food or water after the game. You can give them some water to cool off after the game, but do not fill their entire container in one go because they may end up ingesting more air than water and this can lead to gastric torsion.
How to Teach your Dog to Drop Objects - Common problems when practicing command

If you want to read similar articles to How to Teach your Dog to Drop Objects, we recommend you visit our Basic education category.

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