How To Teach Your Dog to Drop Things

Everyone has things they want to be done differently. Some of these things are easy to implement, while others require a serious push of will and dedication. Dog training is one of these.  Dogs are more intelligent than we give them credit for. They learn things that we don’t even think they know how to do. If dogs can learn how to catch a ball, they can be trained to drop whatever is in their mouth. Read on to learn how to teach your dog to drop things.

Teach With Nothing In the Mouth

Teaching your dog to drop things is a great way to practice obedience and build trust. It’s best to start with a verbal cue or command, such as “drop it” or “leave it.” This command must be consistent and clear so that your dog understands what it means when you say it.

Start by finding a treat that your dog loves. It should be something the dog doesn’t get very often, like chicken or cheese.

Here’s how:

  • You can say “drop” or “give” while the dog is sitting or standing in a pleasant tone.
  • Then spill the cheese or chicken on the ground. Point the food to your dog and ensure that your hand is near the dropped food. 
  • Repeat this command severally until your dog associates with the word “drop.”
  • Practice in different locations for the whole week; the idea is to create a positive association with “drop.”

Introduce Items

You’ll first need to introduce the item after the dog has positively associated with the word drop. When introducing the word drop, please ensure a reward always follows it. You can use treats or praise, but ensure your dog enjoys it whatever you choose. Then, once your dog has made positive associations with those items, build up to harder things like an empty water bottle or even an empty can of food. Here is what you can do:

  • Get a few objects similar to the item you want your dog to drop (e.g., tennis ball, stuffed animal).
  • Place each object on the floor in front of your dog and say “drop” as you point to it.
  • Your dog should naturally pick up each object and bring it to you, so praise them or give them food.
  • Repeat this process with all objects until your dog easily drops the object when prompted to “drop.”
  • Practice severally.

Reasons for Teaching Your Dog to Drop Things

There are some great reasons you should teach your dog this important cue.

It’s Good for Their Teeth and Gums

Most dogs love chewing on things, but they can develop issues with their teeth and gums if they’re not given opportunities to use their mouths appropriately. Teaching them the command “drop it” will help them learn what is appropriate for them to chew on and what isn’t.

It Helps Build Trust

Asking your dog to drop something can be seen as a test of their trust in you. After all, the dog is going against its instincts by giving up something they want or need so that you can take control over it! By practicing this command regularly with positive reinforcement (like treats), you’ll build a bond between yourself and your pup that will last for years to come.

It’s Life Saving

If you have a dog who eats things he shouldn’t, this command could save his life by keeping him from ingesting something dangerous or lethal. This command is useful because it lets you get something out of your dog’s mouth without physically wrestling with him. If your dog has aggression issues with other animals or people, it can also teach him patience when around them.

Tips on Teaching Your Dog to Drop It

The dog must learn that it can’t just grab something and run off with it. If you are having challenges teaching your dog how to drop it, here are some tips:

Start with something easy: Try teaching your dog how to drop the ball or a squeaky toy. It will give them positive reinforcement for dropping things and help them associate the behavior with positive outcomes.

Don’t use force: When you train your dog, don’t use force or physical punishment to get them to comply. Instead, use positive reinforcement and treats when they do what you want them to do.

Use hand signals: When teaching your dog how to drop it, be sure that they understand what each hand signal means before moving on from one step in the training process (e.g., don’t move on until your dog knows both words: “drop” and “it”).

Use high-value treats: When teaching any new trick, it’s important to use treats that are high in value for your dog. That means they must be something the dog loves, so choose something like peanut butter or cheese. If you use treats that aren’t particularly special, the dog won’t find them very rewarding, which means the dog won’t want to repeat the action!

Be always consistent: You must mean what you say every time you ask your dog to drop it! If he gets mixed signals from you, it will be harder for him to learn what the command means in different contexts. Also, teach the dog for one week.

Use different places: Try teaching your pup this command in other places around the house so they can get used to doing it anywhere at any time.

It’s not always easy to get a dog to drop things, and there isn’t a simple solution that works in every instance. Instead, you’ll need to take different approaches according to the item your dog refuses to relinquish. You might have better luck teaching an alternative behavior (such as “drop” or “leave it”). But no matter which approach you end up using, be patient and make sure that you reward your dog’s successes generously and refrain from punishments. Contact us at and let our experienced trainers teach your dog how to drop things.