Teaching your dog the “drop it” cue may be challenging because: If you run after him saying “drop it; drop it” while he’s running around the dining room table, it will turn into a game for him. If you force his mouth open to remove the object, he may start biting and then nobody will be able to take anything from him.

It’s important, therefore, to teach him to drop an object without chasing after him or confronting him. Let me share 3 tips for teaching your dog to drop whatever he has in his mouth.

Start by saying “drop it” when you walk past him and he happens to have a toy in his mouth, and toss a treat really close to him. This is the first step and the goal isn’t for your dog to drop the toy yet, although it will be great if he does. The goal is to teach him to associate the cue “drop it” with a reward, so he will be more likely to comply in future instead of turning it into a confrontation. This is especially important with dogs that have a resource-guarding aggression problem.

The second tip is to just observe your dog while he plays with a toy and say “drop it” as he drops the toy and give him a treat immediately after. You may not always be successful because we don’t watch our dogs constantly. But if you take a few minutes to observe him playing with a toy, you’ll notice he often drops it even if it’s just to get a better grip. These are the opportunities you can seize. The objective of this tip is to teach your dog to associate the cue “drop it” with the act of dropping the toy and be rewarded for it. This also serves to avoid confrontation and dissuade him from running around with the toy in his mouth – he will know that he gets a reward for dropping the toy immediately.

The third tip is to go into a small room with your dog (the bathroom is a good choice), so he won’t have much room to run around, close the door, put 2 or 3 forbidden items on the floor (a sock, your child’s teddy bear and a bra, for example) and say “drop it” as soon as he looks at one of those items and before snatching it. Give him a treat immediately every single time he responds correctly. You can also give him a treat for looking at one of those items without trying to snatch it. This is because looking before snatching is still good behavior and your dog should be rewarded for it. The goal is for him to learn to not snatch forbidden objects.

Teaching your dog the “drop it” cue goes beyond these tips, but this is a good place to start and will give you a solid foundation 😊