i need some training tips

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samantha rixon's picture
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Hello fellow dobie lovers, im having trouble getting my almost 6 month old to " give" or "drop it" as some of you say. At puppy school the trainer got us to say give when pup had a toy in his mouth and to have a treat held at his nose so he has the choice to give the toy or get a treat. Well this works but only with a treat. Im not really liking the word give because if we are at the park and he picks something up a fair distance from me i cant get to him quick enough to take it from him so i would like to teach him "drop it" instead of give but i give him the "drop" command to lay down, surley this will confuse him?

Another useful one would be leave it, anyone have any good tips on how to do this?

Thanks :-) 

DJ's Dad's picture
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Training a dog to drop something out of its mouth is one of the hardest things I find to train.  Some people and some dogs seem to just get a good solid grasp on this from the get-go and never have any issues with it, but for some reason, it's not that easy for me with this particular dog I have now, DJ.  Especially with tennis balls...she gets one in her mouth and it's there for the duration...she will even bring it to me and shove it into my palm, but will NOT let go.  It's her vice, I suppose.  Could be worse.  ;) Makes for an interesting time at the dog park when someone brings their dog's "special and personal" tennis ball and DJ gets ahold of it.  She will, however, drop things out of her mouth that are not tennis balls when I tell her to.

Command words dont always have to be what an instructor tells you to use.  You use whatever you and your dog are comfortable with. Each command word should be easily distinguished by your dog so they dont sound too similar, or it will be confusing, for sure.  Personally, I use 'leave it' if I want her to totally ignore something, 'down' when I want her to lay down, 'off' when I want her to get off the couch, and my word/phrase for dropping something out of her mouth is "spit it out". Not your conventional word per instructors, but it works for us.

Teaching drop it (or spit it out, hee hee) is best done on leash.  Your instructor's idea of offering a treat is a good one.  You can also use another toy to 'trade' for the item you want your dog to give up.  The leash just prevents the dog from being able to think: "nah--I dont think so", and running off with your phone or your good shoe in his mouth.  Whether you use a treat or a toy, you just practice practice practice this way getting your dog to release what he has.  When you are sure he has the idea down, you start using a treat or a trade-off toy a couple of times, then once without a treat or trade off.  Then lengthen your training to using a treat or toy one time out of 3, then one time out of 5 times.  Keep him guessing, though, never set a pattern to how many times you dont give him a payoff.....they KNOW.
 

To teach 'leave it' you need to have a leash on your dog, walk him close to something that is of low value to him, but still gets his curiosity up. You can use anything.  An empty box, a sock, whatever.  Walk him near it, but not too close.  When you notice him attempting to walk towards the object, sternly say "leave it" and walk quickly away from it....make him go with you. Dont give him the opportunity to fail.  Then, when you're past the item, treat or praise him up like it was his idea to walk away, even if it wasnt.  Dont use a piece of steak or his favorite toy as your bait item...he wont be able to resist that sort of thing and you want him to succeed.  Honestly, if you do this exercise enough times, you WILL be able to eventually put that piece of steak down, walk him by it and tell him 'leave it' before he gets to it......and he will.  These dobermans are smart critters!

samantha rixon's picture
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Awesome thanks DJ`s Dad :-) 

Danielleak's picture
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We used a different language when training lex to drop. Still a single syllable. That way it isn't confused with other commands. Dj's dad, I like the leash idea, do you recommend a shorter leash when training?  Our pup bane is proving to do amazing in lead but dang near nothing when off.

DJ's Dad's picture
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@danielleak, I have worked my dog on a very short leash...called a 'tab' many times.  It's only about 5 or 6 inches long and snaps onto the collar and just hangs there ready to grab if I need to get control of her, but it doesnt drag on the ground, so she barely even notices it's there.  That seems to be a great transitional tool between leashed and unleashed training.  I also have gone to the other extreme, and put a 30 ft long rope onto her with a swivel snap on the end to attach to the collar.  That way it gives her the freedom to move about, but I still ultimately have the control factor and can reel her in to me if she gets stubborn.

Danielleak's picture
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We have three lengths of leash. I never thought I'd the longer road though. Great idea!