Scene familiar to most dog owners. The dog is in the next room. You hear a noise, and then in walks the dog with something in her mouth.

What happens next?

A reliable drop cue is a lifesaving skill for your dog, but it is one that I find particularly difficult to demonstrate in class, where most dogs are so focused on treats that they aren’t interested in picking anything up. This blog post is intended to serve as a refresh or supplement for training drop at home.

The basic mechanics of teaching drop are easy. Your dog has something (ideally a toy or another safe object). Say drop. Present a reward (food or toy) that is more exciting than the object. When the dog drops the held object, click or use a verbal marker, give rewards.

Five dos and don’ts:

  • Don’t wait until your dog has something dangerous to practice drop
  • Don’t reward dropping with a less valuable reward
  • Don’t let your dog turn grabbing off-limits objects into a way to jump start chase games
  • Do practice early and often
  • Do consult a behavior professional if you see signs of resource guarding aggression

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