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DOG / training & behavior

How to Teach Your Dog to "Drop it"

Training tips from a PetSmart pro

Overview

When you need your furry little rascal to loosen their hold on a toy (or a prized shoe) these ideas can help!

First, reduce temptation

  • Dogs invent games if we don’t keep them mentally and physically stimulated. Sometimes they seek socks and other human stuff out of boredom. Make sure your buddy gets enough exercise and has a variety of interesting toys to play with. Rotate the toy collection frequently so that not all of them are available at the same time — otherwise they’ll get uninteresting fast.
  • Since dogs also sometimes steal for attention, make a fuss over good behavior instead of bad. When you see your puppy or dog playing with their own toys, lavish them with praise! They’ll remember which items get your notice.
  • Use pet gates to keep your dog out of places where there are a lot of tempting, non-dog things.

Train your pup to let go

  • Don’t wait until your dog has stolen something to practice “Drop It.” Set up bait items you can give back, such as dog toys or sticks. You don’t want the dog to think, “If I drop this, I’ll never see it again.”

When your dog picks up a bait item, offer a treat in exchange, while saying, “Drop it…good!” In time, your dog will learn to give back items without the treat.

If all else fails, try bribery

  • If, despite your best intentions, your dog ends up stealing something of yours, don’t run after them — otherwise you’ve just turned it into a fun game of “Chase the Dog Around the Couch.” Instead, offer a fabulous treat in exchange, so your dog thinks, “I’m trading up!”
  • If your dog won’t trade, try trickery. Grab one of their toys and play with it as if you’re having the time of your life. Then run away with it. If your dog follows you, get far enough away from the original item that after you give your dog the new, thrilling toy, you’ll be able to rescue your stolen possession.
  • If all else fails, throw a handful of treats on the floor. Most dogs are greedy and will find this irresistible. When your dog drops the item, put your foot over it so the dog can’t grab it again, and then pick it up.
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