- Practice with your dog's toys, you need to practice with objects that are appropriate to give back to your dog.
- Use a treat that is better than the toy you are practicing with.
- Always give the toy back to your dog after rewarding them for dropping it.
- Say "drop it" in a fun way, don't sound so stern.
Why teach the drop it command?
It is a great way to get your dog to drop whatever is in their mouth when you need them to. Dogs will pick up things they shouldn't, it's not just puppies many dogs of all ages do it. (a rock, mulch, a piece of garbage on a walk etc).
If they don't know a drop it command you have to physically pry these things out of their mouth but really what that says to your dog is.... you are taking their things!! Most of the things they pick up they view as items of high value, the more inappropriate the item, the higher value it is. You can say "drop it" all you want but if you're having to physically get it out of their mouth, they will never willingly do it on their own. You need to teach your dog that it's rewarding to drop it. With practice your dog will start realizing that they can trust you to not steal their stuff and it is rewarding to drop it!
How to start teaching it
Rules of teaching drop it are:
First engage your dog in play, once your dog has the toy in their mouth hold a treat right in front of your dog's nose as you say "drop it" then praise your dog for dropping it, reward them with the treat and give that toy back to your dog! Repeat, repeat and repeat.
If your dog does NOT want to drop it either you're holding the treat too far away initially or the treat is not good enough! Step it up and get a treat that is better than the toy. You should only. have to say "drop it" once, do not repeat yourself.
When you start practicing with your dog's toy and rewarding them for dropping it for you, then giving that toy back so your dog starts realizing that it is a good thing to drop it for you. It is rewarding to drop it. They no longer have to worry about you stealing their really amazing stuff they find.
You will need to keep practicing with their toys daily, even if you practice "drop it" only 4-5 times in a row. Then get to the point where you no longer need to put the treat in front of their nose. Once they've got it, next level might be a new toy to practice with. A new toy is more exciting which means it is more difficult to drop. If your dog doesn't want to drop it, put that treat in front of their nose again. Or it might be a nice stick they find on a walk, do a "drop it" with an even better treat then give the stick back to your dog to carry for a while then practice another drop it and repeat.
Things to keep in mind
More than likely your dog will still pick up things they shouldn't and it is ok to physically get these things out of their mouth as long as you are still practicing teaching the drop it command daily.
The only way your dog will willingly drop anything you ask them to is when you teach a solid "drop it" command so practice daily and have fun with it!