How to Teach a Dog to Drop It, Give It or Return an Item

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Teach a Dog to Drop It, Give It, Release or Return an Item

Positive Dog Training: Drop It Cue

How to Teach a Dog to Drop it. Learn how to teach a dog to drop it in these simple positive dog training steps. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
How to teach a dog to drop it.

Playing fetch or tug with your new puppy or dog is a great cooperative game. However, if your dog does not release the ball or tug toy, it won’t be much fun for you. DROP IT, GIVE, RELEASE, whatever you decide to call it; is a good behavior to have if your management slipped and he stole an object he shouldn’t have. However, I do urge you to increase your management skills so that you are not putting yourself and your dog in a catch-22 of him stealing and you rewarding him for giving it back. I do, of course, always reward my dog for giving me something back in the early years to ensure resource guarding does not develop.

Teaching a Dog to Drop It Exercise 1

Drop It Level 1

  • Grab one of your dog’s toys, such as a tug rope.
  • Tell your dog to “Get It” as you wiggle it around so that your dog grabs onto the toy.
  • As your dog has the toy in his mouth, put a high-ranking treat up to his nose. As soon as your dog drops the toy, say “YES!” and immediately give him the treat.
  • Repeat this game about 5 times, ensuring a good game before the drop (if he still has the desire for the game).

Drop It Level 2

  • Set up your game the same way as before. This time say your Drop It Cue (Drop, Give, Release, etc.) right before placing the treat to his nose. Only say the word one time.
  • As soon as your dog drops the toy say “YES!” and give him his treat.
  • Repeat 5 times.

Drop It Level 3

  • Set up like level 2, but this time, say your Drop It cue without showing your dog the treat. Wait for your dog to drop the toy, as soon as he does say “YES!” and treat.
  • Repeat the game 5 times.
Dog Training Tips
  • If your dog is not being successful, either increase the reward or decrease the value of the toy.
  • Every dog has his own motivation level for play. When practicing your drop cue, make sure you are ending before he wants to end, even if you don’t get your 5 repetitions in. You want to end the game with him wanting more, not being totally bored with the activity.

Drop It Exercise 2

Drop It Level 1

  • Have two identical toys, such as tennis balls. You want the toys to be the same so that your dog does not find one toy more valuable than the other.
  • Toss the toy about 5’ away in a hallway or with your dog on a long leash (20′).
  • When your dog runs back with the toy, wiggle the other toy in front of him.
  • Wait for it. As soon as he drops the first toy, toss the second toy from your hand.
  • Repeat 5 times

Drop It Level 2

  • Set up like before. This time, when your dog comes running back with the toy, say your Drop It cue and wait for your dog to drop the toy. As soon as he drops the toy, toss the other toy from your hand.
  • Repeat 5 times

So, there you have it. The beginning stages of teaching a dog a reliable drop or give behavior. As with any dog behavior, you will need to actively practice these lessons, and gradually increase the difficulty level until he becomes a master dropper. Dexter can be in full fledge tugging mode, and will release the toy quickly with one soft “drop.”


Does your dog like to fetch? Is he good at dropping it? Tell me in the comments.

How to Teach a Dog to Drop it. Learn how to teach a dog to drop it in these simple positive dog training steps. #raisingyourpetsnaturally
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Positive and Natural Dog Training Books
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Indoor Dog Toy

4 thoughts on “How to Teach a Dog to Drop It, Give It or Return an Item

  1. I haven’t always been this lucky but I think Kaden had an innate desire to train me. haha He did the action and I added the word. It just sort of happened. I use leave it (if something falls..like food), and let go for tugging games. I LOVE that he can be in full growling, tugging and he will immediately ‘let go’ when I ask. I use growling loosely..can barely hear him. ha He’s taught me other things..like ‘back up’ (he even taught me a hand signal for it also) but that isn’t the topic today. And make no mistake this kid isn’t perfect. He sometimes barks in excitement during play and he never really learned ‘sit’. He’d go right to the down position. I tried to change it initially but I guess I got lazy or decided the down works just as well and sometimes better. One less thing to learn. You’d have a field day with us I’m sure. 😉

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