Get It/Drop It

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Teach your dog to “Drop It”

Goal:
• To give both your dog and you an outlet for structured play and energy burning.
• Your dog learns how to control his jaws.
• You both learn to interact cooperatively within a game that has rules.

Tug of War Rules:
• The dog drops (lets go) the tug toy on cue.
• The dog may not take or retake the toy until invited to do so. Always pair the phrase “Get it” whenever you re-present the toy to your dog.
• There are frequent obedience breaks. Use the tug game as a reinforcer/reward for practicing a bit of obedience training or good doggy manners.
• There is zero tolerance of accidents. If the dog makes any mouth contact with your hand at all, then screech “ouch” and end the game (even if it didn’t hurt you). Wait 15 seconds, and restart the game.

Lay the Foundation:

1. Start training “Drop It” by practicing some low-key exchanges with him first: Hand him the toy, immediately cue the “Drop It”, As you say “Drop It”, make sure that your own hand holding the toy goes still (you make the toy lose its prey value when you hold it still). Also, hold the food reward very close to his mouth just underneath his nose. Wait for him to release the toy from his mouth, click (or say “yes”) the instant he releases the toy, and give him the food reward.
2. Your dog must release the toy willingly – you should not pry the toy out of his mouth.

Helpful Hints
• Some dogs take to this game very naturally, whilst other dogs look at you strangely and with no desire to take the object into their mouths. Some of these dogs can be taught to play tug (see below), but some dogs will just never get it. Don't worry about that, just respect the kind of play style that your dog does like, and go with the flow. The principles and rules of tug play will apply to whatever game you do end up playing with your dog.
• If the dog won't take the toy into his mouth, then practice these exchanges with him: encourage him to “Get it” by rewarding any mouth contact to the toy with a food reward.

Download Get it / Drop it PDF


Make the Behavior Solid, and Introduce “get it”

Goal:
• Your dog learns to only take the toy on invitation from you.
• You both learn to interact cooperatively within a game that has rules.

Develop Understanding:
1. Once your dog is able to “drop” the toy reliably on cue, you should start to hide the food reward so that you can be sure that the dog is doing his part of the bargain by releasing the toy on faith.
2. Once he is able to do this reliably, then you can represent the toy to him as a reward rather than giving him a food reward.
3. Also, start pairing the cue “get it” as you present the toy back to your dog for him to take.

Helpful Hints
• Tug play bouts should never last longer than 30 seconds before you cue a “drop it”.
• You can use this game to build your dog’s cooperation: In between bouts of tug play, you can start to ask your dog for an easy behavior such as sit, down or touch. Make sure that he responds promptly and swiftly to your request. If he doesn’t respond swiftly, then end the game altogether. You are teaching your dog to work with you: he gets what he wants (tug play) in return for giving you what you want (fast response times to obedience cues).

Download Get it / Drop it PDF


You Play Tug

Goal:
• To give both your dog and you an outlet for structured play and energy burning.
• Your dog learns how to control his jaws.
• You both learn to interact cooperatively within a game that has rules.

Practice Proficiency:
1. Now present the toy to your dog, but do not say “get it” yet. Pause. Then say “get it”, and make the toy even more inviting to your dog to take a hold of. If your dog goes for the retake without the verbal invitation, then cue a timeout and restart the game after an obedience break. If he makes the same mistake twice in a row, then end the game for that day, and try again tomorrow.

Helpful Hints
• Teach the dog that he may only take the toy on invitation. Both the presentation of the object and the verbal “Get it” are signals that the game is on. Without the verbal “Get it” the dog may not take the toy, even if it is presented. Up until now, you have consistently
been using the verbal “Get it” each time you gave the toy to your dog.
• Be consistent: make sure that you and whoever else plays with your dog thoroughly know the rules of tug play. Stick the rules on to your refrigerator door if necessary.

Download Get it / Drop it PDF