Want to learn how to train your golden retriever to drop it?
This is one of the most important commands to teach your golden and it could literally save their life.
In this article, you’ll learn how to teach your pup to drop it step by step, plus, you’ll teach them to learn to want to drop it, so that their behavior is much more reliable when it really matters.
If you’ve struggled with teaching your puppy to drop it, or if this is your first time trying to teach this to them, you’re going to love this easy method.
Let’s dive in!
Why “Drop It” Is So Important
You and your golden are on a walk together in your neighborhood.
You happen to notice that your neighbor got a new car and as you’re checking it out, you take your eyes off of your puppy for one second.
After you’ve confirmed that you’re not jealous at all of the neighbor’s new car, you look down to see that your puppy has something in their mouth!
If you reach down to grab it from them, chances are they’ll try to avoid you, or worse, try to swallow it.
This is why “drop it” is so important.
If whatever they have in their mouth could get them sick, this command could literally save their life.
And in addition to potentially saving their life, if your dog knows a drop command it will make playing with them and toys much easier and more fun… nobody likes to play with someone who never gives up a toy!
So how do you teach it?
These next few sections will outline the steps to teach your golden retriever to drop it, and at the bottom of this page, there’s also a video version of these steps.
But before you even start training, you need to set your pup up for success…
Step 0: Set Your Golden Up For Success
Before you start training your dog, you want to make sure they’re in a mental and physical state that enables them to learn.
Make sure they’re not bursting at the seams with energy or, at the other end of the spectrum, are about to fall asleep.
Also, training them before mealtimes, when they’re most hungry, will help, too, especially with training drop it the way you’re about to learn it.
Step 1: Play Tug With Them
The first step to teaching your pup to drop it is to first give them something to drop.
(Note: an alternative way to teach this if your dog doesn’t like playing tug is by doing the same following steps with a chew toy.)
Step 2: Get Your Dog To Drop It
There are many ways to teach get your dog to drop it while playing tug, such as trading for a new toy or holding the rope still, but the best way is to present them with a treat.
As you’re playing tug, simply put a treat in front of their nose so they really want to drop it and take the treat.
The reason why this is so effective is that the treat makes them want to drop it.
And of course, it has to be a treat that they really want.
For young puppies, it could be something as simple as their kibble.
You can also use training treats, like these Zuke’s mini treats, or real meat like boiled chicken for dogs that are more excited about the toy than a treat.
Step 3: Mark & Reward When They Drop It
As soon as you see their mouth open to drop it, mark that behavior with a clicker or a word like “yes” and give them the treat.
This teaches them that the act of opening their mouth and dropping whatever is in there is what gets them the reward.
Step 4: Add A Verbal Cue Like “Drop It”
Once they’re consistently dropping it when you present the treat, it’s time to add a verbal cue.
Use something simple like “drop” or “drop it” and be consistent with it.
Now when adding the cue, it’s important to say the cue then present them with the treat.
This will help them learn the cue faster.
Step 5: Invite Them To Resume Tug After They’ve Dropped It
What you don’t want your dog to do is learn that whenever they drop it the fun stops, so for most of the time start playing tug again.
This will help them learn that dropping it is fun and doesn’t mean playtime is over.
Step 6: Practice
Once your dog knows the cue “drop” or “drop it” with one toy, you can start practicing it with other toys and in other places.
Practice with balls, frisbees, chew toys, plush toys in places such as the house, backyard, front yard, and even on your walks.
This will help them learn that “drop it” means drop it no matter where they are or what they have in their mouth.
Mistakes When Teaching Your Golden Retriever To Drop It
Here are some common mistakes most puppy owners make when teaching their golden to drop it.
Saying “drop” as you give them the treat
It’s important to give the cue then give them the treat because it will teach them that the cue means, “a delicious treat is about to come!”
Telling your puppy “drop it” too early
If you give the cue and your puppy doesn’t drop it, they may learn that they don’t need to drop it when they hear the cue, so make sure to wait for them to learn the behavior of dropping it before you start giving them the cue.
Using a toy that your puppy is obsessed with
If your puppy has a favorite toy that they refuse to drop, first start with a toy that they will part with to learn this behavior.
Punishing your dog for not dropping it
If your dog doesn’t drop it at first, give them time.
If they still don’t drop it, use a less valuable toy, or a more valuable treat.
Punishing them will never get you what you want (and they definitely won’t like it either).
How To Teach Your Dog To Drop It [VIDEO]
Training your golden retriever to drop it is one of the best things you can teach them.
It could literally save their life if they have something poisonous or dangerous in their mouth, and will make playing with toys with them much more fun.
To teach them to drop it:
- Engage in a game of tug with them
- Present them with a treat that they can’t say no to
- Mark and reward them for dropping the tug toy
- Pair a cue like “drop it” with the action of dropping it
- Resume playing tug (so they don’t think “drop it” means playtime is over)
- Practice in different areas with different objects
Have any questions about teaching your golden retriever to drop it?
Let me know in the comments below!
And if you know someone who wants to teach their pup to drop it, please share this with them!
P.S. If you liked this article, you’ll love this article about crate training your golden retriever.