Let’s teach our puppies to let go of items when we ask, so we don’t have to chase them around the house every time they grab something interesting. This is also a good Resource Guarding prevention exercise, as your puppy learns letting go of things gets her big rewards. NOTE – If your puppy already growls or snaps when you try to take an item away, ask your instructor about dealing with Resource Guarding before trying this exercise.
- Say “take it” and give your puppy a chew bone or tug toy (if she likes tug toys). If your puppy takes things and runs away, hold onto one end of the item so she can chew on it or play with it, but can’t run off.
- After several seconds, put a high value treat on your puppy’s nose and as soon as she lets go of the chew item, praise ‘good!’ and give her the treat. At the same time, remove the chew item from in front of the puppy momentarily.
- After she eats the treat, say ‘take it’ and give the chew item back. Repeat these steps until your puppy drops the chew item as she sees your hand approaching with the treat.
Now we’ll add a verbal cue ‘drop’. (If you use the word ‘drop’ to mean something else, you’ll need a different cue here – ‘out’, ‘trade’ etc.)
- Give the puppy the chew item as before, holding onto it if needed.
- After several seconds, say “drop” and then put the treat on her nose as before.
- It’s important to say the release word ‘drop’ or ‘out’ BEFORE you move your hand to her nose. In order for the puppy to learn that ‘drop’ means let go and get a treat, the cue must come before your hand movement.
- As in Step 1, give the chew item back with the cue “take it” after she eats the treat. Repeat multiple times, making sure your puppy is dropping the item immediately every time.
Troubleshooting – If your puppy doesn’t drop the chew item when you present the treat, try making a distraction noise (kissy noises are great) or switch to a higher value treat and a lower value chew item.
- Start to pause 1 second after you give the cue ‘drop’ to see if your pup will drop the item before you bring your hand to her nose.
- Practice this step until your puppy will immediately drop the item as soon as you say “drop” without needing to put the treat on her nose. Once she drops the item, give her the treat.
Once she’ll drop the item every time as soon as you say “drop”, try letting go of the chew item or toy for several seconds before you say “drop”. Even if your puppy moves away from you, she should still drop it as soon as she hears your cue. If not, go back to practicing Step 2 and 3 again, or use a lower value chew item (empty paper towel rolls can work well) and a higher value treat.
Take the game on the road. Practice in new locations – different rooms of the house, in the back yard etc. Switch up the game by giving her a different chew item or toy. The word ‘drop’ should cue her to let go of any item as soon as you say the cue.
For a good video tutorial try this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMNup72dGyA
Or this one (if your dog likes to tug) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVivnOwiMoA