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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there.
I've read all the articles and watched all the You Tube videos on the best ways to teach this, but I have a challenge that I can't seem to conquer. The basics of teaching this seem to be to have your dog hold something in his mouth that has value to him and then tempt him to "drop it" for something of higher value. Then, give him back the original item, ask him to drop it again with the higher value item, etc. Makes sense, and seems to work in the videos.

HOWEVER, I can't get my pup to hold anything in his mouth because as soon as I approach him he's all attention and hopefulness and eagerness that I'm either going to be taking him for a walk, or a ride, or doing some lessons with him (which always means reward treats) or even that I'm simply coming over to pet him. So he never has anything in his mouth when I approach him - he already "drops" whatever he's doing. I imagine that's a good thing, but it's making it difficult to do this particular lesson.

The second part of that challenge is that if I do find something he really wants to keep in his mouth even with me standing there, I then have to find something of a HIGHER value to get him to drop it, and if he knows I'm standing there with a handful of "higher value" stuff he has no interest in taking back the original item. He'll just sit attentively waiting for a command so he can get a "higher value" reward. These are all good things, but I'm frustrated because I'd like to teach him "drop it".

Can anyone relate or offer suggestions or share how you've taught this command? Thanks in advance.
Sue
 

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Hmm... I'm eager to see what others say on this.

My first thought is to teach a "fetch" command, a "hold" command and a "drop it" command. After teaching all 3, when you want your dog to accept something of lesser value or hold onto something for a length of time, s/he will. My thought process is that if you're only teaching "drop it", the dog is anticipating what you want and beating you to the end game to get the reward.
 

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I work on drop it through out the day. I don't set aside time because like you said - she may not be chewing on something in that moment. And I feel it's more beneficial when it's something I want her to drop.

My problem with drop it is it becomes a game. She always drops it but I swear she picks it back up just to drop it and get a treat again. She did this yesterday with her leash. I told her to drop it and treated her. Then she kept picking it up, immediately dropping it, and looking at me. She did that several times in a row.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks, Aspen... that's a really good idea! Fetch, hold, and drop, in that order, could really help the dog understand much more clearly exactly what I want from him. Like I said, just getting his attention and asking him to "drop it" is kind of vague, especially since he pretty much drops whatever he has as soon as I approach him.

And thanks for sharing your experience, Morgan... glad I'm not the only one who has some issues with this command. I'm sure "drop it" training by itself would definitely become a game for mine as soon as he figured it out and the command probably wouldn't work in an urgent or emergency situation.... I'd rather it not become "food" dependent.

Guess we're going to work on fetch starting tonight. :)
Sue
 

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Thanks, Cookie. I had actually watched this one a few days ago (watched it again just now) and I'm not sure I want to try it that way. It apparently gets the job done (at least for that dog) but I'm not comfortable teaching a dog the command "drop" when I'm throwing treats on the ground - I think my pup would get confused by this and wouldn't make the transition once we get to the end part. I would rather he connect "drop" with releasing what's in his mouth right from the start, but who knows.... I may have to go that route. But since I've already tried a few sessions of "drop" when he does have something in his mouth it might just confuse him to change mid-teaching, ya know?

Thanks for the video - always helpful to watch someone else training their dog.
Sue
 

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Yeah, you have to find something your pup doesn't want to let go. A ball or Frisbee during fetch works for mine. But what really works is tug play. Does yours like to play tug? If so, work until her drive is strong to keep holding onto that thing, then use the usual methods (trade for treat/object, stop play, ...) to get a "drop" going. Also an excellent way to teach "leave it" after they let go.

I have my 6.5 month old pup now fetching the tug toy, bringing it back to me, dropping it, tugging when I say "tug", dropping and leaving it again, then fetch, and so on.

Incidentally, I'm combining the fetch because with other toys (balls, Frisbees) she loses interest in playing fetch after three or four runs at it, but with a tug toy, man, she can go forever. She just about wiped me out yesterday.

ETA: If your pup gets as rambunctious with tug play as mine, make sure your reflexes are up to par, or she's likely to miss. It helps to have a long tug toy (I like a thick knotted rope) to maintain some distance, but still, watch out for lunging and bumping and snapping teeth!
 

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Yeah, you have to find something your pup doesn't want to let go. A ball or Frisbee during fetch works for mine. But what really works is tug play. Does yours like to play tug? If so, work until her drive is strong to keep holding onto that thing, then use the usual methods (trade for treat/object, stop play, ...) to get a "drop" going. Also an excellent way to teach "leave it" after they let go.

I have my 6.5 month old pup now fetching the tug toy, bringing it back to me, dropping it, tugging when I say "tug", dropping and leaving it again, then fetch, and so on.

Incidentally, I'm combining the fetch because with other toys (balls, Frisbees) she loses interest in playing fetch after three or four runs at it, but with a tug toy, man, she can go forever. She just about wiped me out yesterday.

ETA: If your pup gets as rambunctious with tug play as mine, make sure your reflexes are up to par, or she's likely to miss. It helps to have a long tug toy (I like a thick knotted rope) to maintain some distance, but still, watch out for lunging and bumping and snapping teeth!
Yes, he has shown significant interest in tug with one of our other dogs - I'll try to get him interested in playing it with ME so we can for a "drop" during that. And I like also incorporating the leave it after that, too.

One of my challenges is that I have three dogs so when I start to play with or train the new pup, the others immediately want to get involved and then the tug takes place and I'm not included. LOL I need some QUALITY training time, alone with the pup, so need to work on that. I try secluding us in a room but the whining and crying that goes on outside the door drives me bonkers and I can't focus. I need to take the pup AWAY from the house and work on play and training but now that it's getting dark out early and I am usually at work till 6:00 or so, those times are becoming rare, too.

Thanks for the tips - gives me a lot to work with.
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Yes, he has shown significant interest in tug with one of our other dogs - I'll try to get him interested in playing it with ME so we can for a "drop" during that. And I like also incorporating the leave it after that, too.
It should work fine, then. Sounds like he's already tug-crazy (as I like to say). One word of caution: nothing to overreact about, but monitor how he plays tug with the other dogs. I've seen cases where tug play can turn into aggression (from frustration and/or resource-guarding). Not all dogs take up to dog-on-dog tugging as nicely. It sounds like at least for now you're fine, but keep an eye on it as he grows.

One of my challenges is that I have three dogs so when I start to play with or train the new pup, the others immediately want to get involved and then the tug takes place and I'm not included. LOL I need some QUALITY training time, alone with the pup, so need to work on that. I try secluding us in a room but the whining and crying that goes on outside the door drives me bonkers and I can't focus. I need to take the pup AWAY from the house and work on play and training but now that it's getting dark out early and I am usually at work till 6:00 or so, those times are becoming rare, too.
Yeah, that's a challenge. You want his attention on you, too. All of it (or as much of it as a squirrelly puppy will give). Do you have anyone who can come over and give attention to and play with your other dogs while you train? That might be an idea.

I guess I'll have the same challenge if I ever convince my wife to let me bring home a companion for my current pup. :) I really liked having two dogs in the homestead, keeping each other company when I was busy, but we gotta get ready for that first.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I sometimes recruit my husband to "go do something" with the other dogs so I can have some alone time with the pup but then the pup is all interested in what THEY are doing, and vice versa. The only thing that really works is when my husband takes the other dogs for a walk, but again, there will be less of that on weekdays with the days getting shorter and colder.

I know exactly what you mean about the tug-of-war turning from fun to aggression. With one of my dogs it's truly a game of interactive fun.... the 160 pound dog is so gentle with the pup and literally dangles the toys in the pup's face to get him to play, then let's him win, then gently takes it and offers it again, etc. But the tugs of war between the pup and the senior pug are WAR.... they are truly fighting over the item. Easy to tell the difference when that's going on. But like you said, as the pup grows and matures, this could all change so I will keep an eye on it.
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Easiest is to play "two ball". Have two of a toy he likes, toss one and recall him, when he comes back toss the other one and alternate. Eventually he will get it and you can cut down to one. Also, once you are done " training" you take ALL toys. If he is allowed to keep the toys, then he thinks they belong to him. They are YOUR toys, not his. Eom.

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Too many treats in the equation. Once a dog knows the behavior and it fails because of a pending reward ( food, a walk, play etc.) the dog is effectively training the human. Each discipline/obedience task and training session needs to have a clear beginning and ending. If the dog fails, reset the dog and repeat the particular task, sometimes it's a test of wills and it's important you win this challenge as well as rewarding effort ( real effort ) and of course any success regarding the particular task at hand. When a dog nails a particular behavior during training, one needs to clearly and I mean without a shadow of a doubt impress ( instantly) upon the dog it succeeded. Many times, a scrap of food doesn't telegraph that message.
 

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Too many treats in the equation. Once a dog knows the behavior and it fails because of a pending reward ( food, a walk, play etc.) the dog is effectively training the human. Each discipline/obedience task and training session needs to have a clear beginning and ending. If the dog fails, reset the dog and repeat the particular task, sometimes it's a test of wills and it's important you win this challenge as well as rewarding effort ( real effort ) and of course any success regarding the particular task at hand. When a dog nails a particular behavior during training, one needs to clearly and I mean without a shadow of a doubt impress ( instantly) upon the dog it succeeded. Many times, a scrap of food doesn't telegraph that message.
This is the first dog I've ever used a clicker with, and I have to say, it might be all that it's cracked up to be. It helps really well with the explicit timing of letting them know when they've done what you asked, where as with a the verbal praise and treat the timing can't possibly be as "spot on". For some training I'm sure a clicker isn't necessary, but for the type that really needs to show them EXACTLY what they've done that you like, I'm finding it invaluable.
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Drop it can be tricky...
Some dogs when traded a higher value reward tend to just not care about the lower value item anymore and ignore. That's normal.
I also think that training drop it that way lumps behaviors together (take/hold/retrieve type behavior and also drop it). Makes it hard for dogs who don't already have a strong hold/retrieve.

personally I tend to teach drop it initially in training sessions via two toy games/play, like already suggested. Off the top of my head, I know Nando Brown has a couple videos on youtube that would give a good visual. I look and see if I can find one, if no one beats me to it.

In real life with items my dogs cannot keep, I generally just work on drop it via trades and don't worry about my dog ignoring the item. ultimately thats what I want anyway for items I need to take away... They ability to easily take the item and my dogs to move on.
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For some training I'm sure a clicker isn't necessary, but for the type that really needs to show them EXACTLY what they've done that you like, I'm finding it invaluable.
Sue
I appreciate your opinion which I am certain is based on your experience using a clicker versus your previous methods. One thought, a "click" marking a positive response to a handler's command is without variance assuming the timing is proper. coupled with whatever one loaded their clicker with. A clicker's consistency is its virtue but can also be its failing because it lacks intensity. Before most dogs consistently execute all desired obedience, chances are they have learned our attitudes, tones, body gestures and postures and in learning this, they learn more readily when we add intensity to the "click" when warranted.
 

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I appreciate your opinion which I am certain is based on your experience using a clicker versus your previous methods. One thought, a "click" marking a positive response to a handler's command is without variance assuming the timing is proper. coupled with whatever one loaded their clicker with. A clicker's consistency is its virtue but can also be its failing because it lacks intensity. Before most dogs consistently execute all desired obedience, chances are they have learned our attitudes, tones, body gestures and postures and in learning this, they learn more readily when we add intensity to the "click" when warranted.
I totally agree. And "clicking" is by no means the only positive reinforcement he gets - it's just used to mark the action that warrants the forthcoming treat and exuberance in my praise. He also gets some "jackpot" rewards when he's earned them. :)
Sue
 
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