the 'Drop It' Command
This is a vital command for dogs that continuously try to eat things - poop, stones, bugs - that they shouldn't. It also works well to protect the property of family members from the jaws of your little canine.
The classic way to teach this is to trade a more desirable treat for whatever is in your dog's mouth. Here are three to-dos and one to-don't.
1. Have some very desirable treats with you when you decide to train this command. Hide it in your hand until your dog picks up something
Anything that smells like bacon and can be devoured in one bite works for my dog. Just don't try to use his normal treat; you want one that you reserve for special occasions.
Usually there's something on the floor that your dog will want but if not, put a couple old toys or objects on the floor.
2. When he picks up any thing (doesn't have to be a forbidden object), hold the desirable treat in front of his nose, and say "Drop it"
When he drops the object, release the treat and say 'good boy.'
It's instinctive behavior to want the great treat but the only way to get it is to open your mouth and let the other object fall to the ground.
If your dog resists dropping the object, the treat you've chosen isn't special enough or you have a dog who would respond better to a new toy. See which one works best for your dog.
3. Let the amount of time between when he drops the unwanted item and he gets the treat increase
Eventually skip the treat altogether but continue to praise him when he drops the object.
As in teaching any command, use short training periods. Five minutes once or twice a day for two weeks will ingrain the command. End each training session with praise.
Then periodically try it again so your dog doesn't forget the command.
4. Never get in a tug-of-war with your dog
If he isn't dropping the item, don't try to pull it out of his mouth. You could hurt him (especially if he's a puppy), he could hurt you or you could reinforce the idea that you're playing tug-of-war, not learning a command.
For hard cases
If you have a dog that absolutely positively will not release the object no matter how you try to trade/bribe him, you may need to use corrections.
Try the above but give his face a quick squirt of plain water if he doesn't Drop It. The odds are 99.9% that he will instinctively drop the object when sprayed in the face. Then say Drop It and praise him as though he reacted to the positive training.
Here's a one-minute video showing the classic trading method of teaching Drop It!
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