Does Your Dog Know the Word “Drop?”

Do you use “drop” to get your dog to drop something he has in his mouth?

And does he listen?

It’s one of the most important words to teach a dog but often overlooked.

“Drop” can prevent your dog from eating something dangerous and can even save his life.

It’s also a helpful way to communicate when you want your dog to drop a toy or rawhide without getting bitten and without chasing him (we’ve all played that game!).

Finally, teaching a dog to drop – and that good things happen when he does – is a good way to prevent possessiveness of toys and bones. It’s not necessarily going to eliminate the problem completely, but it’s a start.

Does your dog know drop

A couple examples where “drop” can come in handy:

  • Telling your dog to drop a cooked chicken bone or other garbage.
  • Asking him to drop a rawhide or toy.
  • Telling him to drop a dead snake he found in the yard.

Let me know in the comments some examples of when you’ve had to use the “drop” command.

Unlike the obvious commands like sit and come, “drop” is something new dog owners may not even think about teaching. “Leave it” is another good one to teach.

Simple steps – how to teach a dog to drop

When teaching a dog to drop, what you need to know is this:

1. Hold highly valued food and tell your dog to “drop” a boring item like a toy. Then, immediately reward him with the food.

2. Another option is not to say anything. Instead, wait for your dog to drop the item on his own. Then, say “yes!” and reward with the food.

The dog eventually thinks, “Wow, good things happen when I drop this toy.” After several repetitions, start adding the verbal cue “drop.”


Other tips for teaching drop

1. Make “drop” ridiculously easy.

The dog should be holding a boring toy and the reward should be high.

Eventually, you can challenge him to drop slightly more “valuable” items. After that, work on asking him to drop “ultimate” items like rawhides. Or dead squirrels? 🙂

With time, you can weed out the reward about half the time. That way he’ll still be eager to drop on cue in anticipation of a reward.

2 Practice in controlled scenarios.

You don’t want to practice drop when your dog has grabbed a cookie off the counter and there’s no way in hell he’s going to drop it.

Instead, practice when you can follow through and make sure your dog actually does drop the item. That way he learns it’s best to listen to you. He gets a reward, and his response becomes almost automatic.

What if my dog won’t drop the item?

This can be so frustrating!

If your dog refuses to drop the item or if he’s showing aggression, use your best judgement and do be careful. I have written a post on possessiveness here.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Find a better food reward.

Try real chicken, bacon, hot dogs or beef jerky.

You also may need more practice getting your dog to drop “boring” toys and items before you move on to higher-valued items.

2. Give the original item right back.

Another trick you can use is to give the original item right back as the reward for “drop.”

Some dogs know you’re going to take away that prized item (and sometimes you have to), so they hang onto it with all their might.

If it’s safe to let your dog keep whatever he has, by all means, use that as the reward! “Good boy!”

For my dog, the best reward is simply throwing the ball he just dropped. No food reward necessary for my Retrieving Nut! He will drop absolutely anything if it means I’ll throw the ball. Oh, Ace. You’re so simple sometimes. 🙂

You know your dog best. Get creative and use what works.

What tricks or tips have you used for teaching your dog to Drop on command?

Another good one to teach is “leave it” which I wrote about here.

Related posts:

Teach a dog to drop to stop possessiveness

My dog steals toys at the dog park

Teaching a dog to leave it

14 thoughts on “Does Your Dog Know the Word “Drop?””

  1. Great tips! Kaya & Norman are both really good at drop. I’m not sure if I’m lucky or if I taught them well. I’ll never forget the time I said “drop” and Norman spat out all that horse poop. It came spraying out as it fell apart. Oh dogs…

    1. Need help with this. My dog pick up frogs We have many in our yard after it rains. It secretes s chemical that makes him drool gallons. It doesn’t harm him so far
      But I’d prefer he would drop them For his benefit and mine ( tries to bring in house takes 4 bounties to clean up saliva..

  2. Madison does great with dropping toys/something she finds in the trash, but she is also very fast and good at catching live mourning doves and sometimes rabbits…the command has never worked for Her hunting, any tips on how to stop her from killing and eating the birdies? Get said she’s totally fine and it’s in her nature, it just bothers me because I’m a bird lover. (i don’t usually carry around highly valued treats on walks…but the birds are definitely more highly valued to her than strawberries or peanut butter)

  3. Chip is great at drop thankfully but Phoebe with a ball is impossible to get her to drop it. If she does drop it, if you make any movement towards her, she snaps it back up! I will defo try some of your tricks above.

  4. I have no idea why we haven’t taught “drop;” I was using the standard “leave it” for everything but then realizing I was asking her to do that for multiple reasons. Now if I want her to drop one specific toy or something she has I say “trade” (probably from all the resource guarding work we’ve done in trading) and the “leave it” is for well leaving stuff alone on the ground.

  5. Oh my gosh, the “Drop” and “Off” (Leave It) commands have saved me so many times! Luckily, Haley’s pretty good at asking permission before picking up things that don’t belong to her, but those commands really come in handy when you need them. Great tips on teaching “Drop”!

  6. Once, ambitiously, I tried to teach my dog to clean up his toys. We have a long way to go. It seems that he needs to learn “Take it” first.

  7. Haha, Buzz is the same way as Ace – he always willingly drops his chuck-it ball and can’t wait for us to throw it again 🙂 Repeat, repeat, repeat…
    We taught both of our pups the command “leave it” for not touching something as well as dropping something they have in their mouths.

  8. On our walk this morning, Mom was just saying to Bailie how good she is at drop. She is one to pick up all kinds of stuff, but she drops it when asked. It is a very important command.

  9. Great post Lindsay, very important to teach this command. I have two very rambunctious Rotties and this was one of the first commands they learned!

  10. Working on drop at the moment! Blu (my very large rescue GSD) has got the hang of leaving (as he walks up to what he wants to take), but wasn’t great at dropping (especially his ball). However, rightly or wrongly, I opened his mouth (with my hand) and took ball out at the same time as saying DROP – difficult to start with! I now don’t have to open his mouth manually, he just drops the ball as I take it out of his mouth. And then I immediately throw it for him. Works a treat!!

  11. This is helpful but my question is how do you move from training to getting your dog to follow when they don’t want to? My puppy is 4 months (maybe it’s too early) and he is good with come and drop when we are training with treats but not when he wants to stay in the yard or he actually got a hold of something he wants. Is there an interim step? Thanks!

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