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Delilah has a toy that she LOVES more than anything, more than any other toy or treat. She loves it so much that she cries while she's playing with it. I'd like to incorporate it into training but how would I teach her to drop it if nothing I can reward her with is more reinforcing than that toy?

What I've been doing is telling her "drop it" and letting go and not playing with her until she does. When she does I give her a treat and play with her again. The problem is that this toy is so reinforcing that sometimes even just having it without playing with me is better than dropping it for a minute until we can play again. So sometimes she chooses to listen, sometimes she could care less and just wants to have the toy.

What would be a more efficient way of teaching to drop this so I can use it in training?
 

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Ditto! Easiest way is likely to be the 2 toy game! Great for teaching a drop it with dogs that don't want to give up a toy. Works best with identical toys (can be done with equal value though) and a dog that has some level of a retrieve and/or tug. Increases the value of the toy you have in hands as you'll be moving it/playing with it vs. the (hopefully) more boring toy the dog has. So the dog drops the toy to go get the one that is tossed/being played with. :)
 

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This is why Winston has three identical Tractor Supply frisbees! LOL! Actually, it's because he loses them frequently and I keep buying "replacements" only to discover he hasn't truly "lost" them so much as temporarily misplaced them.

Like the other poster, I was thinking if the dog has any tendency to retrieve or play tug-o-war, that would make it easier. It just happens that Winston's favorite toys are the ones that require ME to make them the most fun, so he's always happy to hand them over since the frisbee will get tossed and "Tugsy" the rope toy will either be tugged on or hidden for a game of hide-n-seek (and then some tugging when he finds it and brings it to me). I've been working on the computer and look down to discover "Tugsy" laying across my thigh and a Winston sitting at my feet staring at me with crazy intensity. "Play Tugsy now, Mom!"

I'd definitely make what happens after the toy is dropped be the most amazing thing the dog could ever imagine.
 

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I like the idea of duplicate toys too. But I know from experience that not every toy has a twin! My girl's favorite toy is one of a kind, as far as I can tell...sigh.

Couple of other ideas:

One thing I'd do is practice "drop it" with lots of other toys, and use this toy as the reward. Have this toy completely out of sight until she drops the lower-value toy, then whip it out and have a fabulous game. Lots of repetitions with lots of different toys (and some other high-value rewards thrown in intermittently, so she doesn't just learn to anticipate this one toy), until her "drop it" response becomes automatic. Then start doing it with the fabulous toy sometimes, with the reward being an immediate second round of play with the fabulous toy.

What I've been doing is telling her "drop it" and letting go and not playing with her until she does. When she does I give her a treat and play with her again.
I'd change a couple of things. First, drop the cue until you have the behavior you already want (don't bother saying "drop it" until your girl is already able to do so). Second, don't drop the toy. When you want her to drop it, keep holding it, but make the toy as "dead" as possible. Hold it close to your body, as still as possible, so that the toy becomes as static as you can manage, and turn your head slightly away from your dog (not a huge look-away, just a quiet disengagement). The instant she lets go, leap back and make the toy "alive again," and invite her for another round of play as her immediate reward. No need for treats if the toy/game is already so high in value!

If the toy is something loose & floppy, most dogs will still be able to self-reinforce off of it even while you're holding it still. So that's kind of an obstacle. One solution is to play "collar touch" games at other times in your dog's day -- touch her collar, immediately give a treat -- hundreds of time, until the collar touch produces a classically-conditioned response (dog looks for treat, reflexively opening her mouth as she does so). At that point, you can make the toy go as 'dead' as possible, then touch her collar and reinforce her as soon as she reflexively loosens her grip...not sure how practical that is for you, I just happen to play a ton of collar grab games to it can be a handy fall-back.
 

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I'll see if I can find another toy like it then!

I like the idea of duplicate toys too. But I know from experience that not every toy has a twin! My girl's favorite toy is one of a kind, as far as I can tell...sigh.

Couple of other ideas:

One thing I'd do is practice "drop it" with lots of other toys, and use this toy as the reward. Have this toy completely out of sight until she drops the lower-value toy, then whip it out and have a fabulous game. Lots of repetitions with lots of different toys (and some other high-value rewards thrown in intermittently, so she doesn't just learn to anticipate this one toy), until her "drop it" response becomes automatic. Then start doing it with the fabulous toy sometimes, with the reward being an immediate second round of play with the fabulous toy.

I'd change a couple of things. First, drop the cue until you have the behavior you already want (don't bother saying "drop it" until your girl is already able to do so). Second, don't drop the toy. When you want her to drop it, keep holding it, but make the toy as "dead" as possible. Hold it close to your body, as still as possible, so that the toy becomes as static as you can manage, and turn your head slightly away from your dog (not a huge look-away, just a quiet disengagement). The instant she lets go, leap back and make the toy "alive again," and invite her for another round of play as her immediate reward. No need for treats if the toy/game is already so high in value!

If the toy is something loose & floppy, most dogs will still be able to self-reinforce off of it even while you're holding it still. So that's kind of an obstacle. One solution is to play "collar touch" games at other times in your dog's day -- touch her collar, immediately give a treat -- hundreds of time, until the collar touch produces a classically-conditioned response (dog looks for treat, reflexively opening her mouth as she does so). At that point, you can make the toy go as 'dead' as possible, then touch her collar and reinforce her as soon as she reflexively loosens her grip...not sure how practical that is for you, I just happen to play a ton of collar grab games to it can be a handy fall-back.
The reason I let go is exactly the reason you posted in the last paragraph- if I hold it, even if I'm not playing with it, she still pulls and that's still a game to her. I've found the only way to stop the play altogether is to let go of the toy completely. She doesn't really have a collar but maybe I can try that with her harness. Thanks for the advice.
 

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Even with a floppy toy, you can often decrease the dynamic properties by holding it close to your dog's mouth. I just take care not to actually push my hands against my girl's mouth (aversive for most dogs, and counterproductive), and not to pull back against her. Making my body go still too -- not stiff and threatening, but calm and non-playful -- is another signal I try to send. It sounds like having the toy all to herself is also reinforcing for your dog, so I understand why you'd feel frustrated!

My dog also self-reinforces even off of a completely "dead" tug toy...she loves biting things, basically, so simply having something in her mouth to bite is enough to rev her engine. There's no way to completely eliminate reinforcement for my dog if she has any toy in her mouth, but I can reduce the amount of reinforcement by using specific toys (short, firm, dense) and learning to hold them essentially still and close to my body. By starting a second round just a second or two after she released, I eventually taught her that the best way to get really high-value reinforcement was to spit it out as soon as I ask. But it took lots of time and patience (also band-aids, but hopefully your girl has the good sense to restrict her biting to toys!).
 
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