Training your dog to give or “drop” his toy means teaching your dog to let go of everything in his mouth when he receives a verbal signal. The release command is very important for your dog’s education. This can be used to protect him when he has something dangerous in his mouth. But, it also serves to be able to play together. So you can play traction games safely. Some dogs may be more tenacious, so be patient and persistent. The idea for the dog must be “To give up is to win!”. But it’s also a question of trust.
Why is it difficult to give your toy?
Most of dogs that don’t give their own toy have problem with trusting humans. Indeed, generally the dog associates our intervention on a toy like a steal act. The dog has nothing to gain from it and it’s frustrating! So why should he gives the toy?
In addition, we wanted to collect a toy after that:
- We disputed the dog
- We shouted
- We ran after the dog
- We stopped the game
- We played badly so we hurt each other …
A dog is far from being stupid and above all, is opportunistic. If we want him to associate us with a playmate and not a thief, we will have to prove to him that he can entrust the object to us. There are several exercises that can help give us confidence. First of all, prepare several types of treats (from simple croquette to minced steak), several toys, some of which (if possible) will be exactly the same. Choose toys that you can easily hold in your hand (such as rope, …), even if the dog has it in its mouth.
Teach the dog to give
Step 1: take a toy
Take a toy. At the first stage it is better to avoid taking your favorite toy, because he will probably be less inclined to leave it. Show him and tell him “take” (or any other word. I work with the word “mug!”). Choose a word, which will always be the same and which means “we start the game then take it”.
When you present this toy, do not hesitate to put yourself in the playing position. That is to say slightly bent and knees bent. When you shake the toy, make wide, but not sudden, movements from left to right (and vice versa) or back and forth. But, never make movements up and down at the risk of damaging your dog’s cervical, as well as other places. The dog is not made to perform the movements up and down, it can really hurt him. Don’t take it off the ground either.
Solution one: trade the toy for food
Don’t wait for your dog to get too excited if you’re not sure how to control his excitement. Before retrieving the toy, get into an upright position. This shows the dog that you no longer want to play or at least that you want to take a break.
While the toy is in your dog’s mouth, offer him a treat in front of the nose. As soon as your dog releases the toy, give it a treat. Repeat these steps several times until you feel your dog anticipate by letting go of the toy as soon as you stand up.
Some dogs need strong motivation to drop their toy for a treat. Do not hesitate to try several like: cheese, minced steak …
Solution 2: teach him to trade for a toy of the same value
The other solution is that when you stand up, you stop moving the toy that is in your dog’s mouth. Without releasing the first toy, you shake with your other hand, the other toy.
By instinct of predation, your dog should be interested in the toy that moves and no longer in the toy that is “dead”. At this step, it is better to make the first exchanges with toys of the same value, in order to increase the chances that the dog will let go. Once the dog has left the first toy to take interest in the second one, start playing with it again. Repeat these steps several times, until your dog anticipates and give you the toy.
Solution 3: stop playing and be patient
When you are playing with your dog, you can stand up and at that moment, hold on and not let go of the toy. You have to be strong with some dogs and be sure that you are holding the toy properly so that the dog can’t surpass you. It is rather necessary to remain very fixed. Without speaking. Your dog will then drop the toy. At this time, return to the play position and ask him again to take the toy. His reward is being able to replay.
For better success, you can also do another exercise upstream at home. You need small treats. When your dog has a toy or an object, pass beside him without trying to take him and throw him a treat. This way, he will not think that your presence means that the toy will disappear.
In addition, you can vary the previous 3 exercises in the same play session. Remember to let your dog win. Otherwise, it’s not a good game. He has the right to have fun too. Who would still like to lose?
Also, remember to stay calm and patient. Nervousness is our best enemy when it comes to training a dog. Train regularly to make it work. Dogs who had trouble letting go in the beginning are often the best playmates afterward!
Add a verbal signal so that he leaves his toy
Add a verbal signal, such as give or stop. Tell the signal a second before he drops the toy and once released, reward your dog (with another toy or a treat). This means that you must first practice the previous exercises. If you have to inhibit your dog to get the “give”, chances are that you are inconsistent in the game or that the basic exercises are not well mastered. So don’t bother getting angry. Just take time to teach him what you desire. Remember that dogs respond better to positive reinforcement.