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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > How To Teach Your Dog To Drop It

How to Teach Your Dog to "Drop It''

kkedrovsky Debbie McKnight/Accredited PetSmart Trainer

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Tired of your dog stealing your socks, shoes and other stuff? Even worse, are you tired of chasing him around the couch to get it back? These tips will help curb that behavior and save your personal items from becoming chew toys:

Tired of your dog stealing your socks, shoes and other stuff? Even worse, are you tired of chasing him around the couch to get it back? These tips will help curb that behavior and save your personal items from becoming chew toys:

  • Puppy-proof the house, use baby gates and shut doors to keep your dog from getting into trouble.
  • Make sure you have a variety of appropriate toys. Choose dog toys and chews that your dog finds desirable and then rotate them frequently so he never has access to all of them at one time, otherwise he may get bored with them. Sometimes it helps to keep the “available” toys in a toy box so your dog knows which ones are his and he can “steal” from his own box.
  • When your dog has something you want, trade him. Make sure you to use fabulous treats and let him think he’s “trading up.” You can say “drop it” as you offer the trade and soon he’ll release the items just on the verbal cue.
  • Don’t wait until he has stolen something to practice “drop it.” Set up bait items and be prepared to trade. Use things you can give back to him after he drops it. You don’t want the dog to think that if he gives something to you, he’ll never see it again. Use all different sorts of items too, not just toys.
  • Many dogs steal for attention. Give more attention to good behavior than bad. When you see your puppy chewing on his own toys, make a big fuss about it! He’ll remember which items get your attention.
  • Do not chase the dog! That only makes it a game for him. Go get something yummy to use for the trade and walk calmly up to him and offer the treat. If he’s really bad about running from you, you may need to keep him on a light leash or drag line for a while so you can step on the leash if he starts to run.
  • Trick him! If you cannot get close enough to trade him, then make him think you have something even better. Grab a toy and make a fuss playing by yourself with it. Giggle and tease him with it. Run away with it. Make him really want it. Be sure he’s followed you far enough away from the original item that you’ll be able to rescue it once his attention is diverted.
  • If all else fails, grab a handful of treats and throw them down on the ground near the dog. Most dogs are greedy and will eventually drop what they have to eat the treats. At that point, put your foot over the item so the dog can’t grab it again, and then pick it up.

Remember, dogs invent games if we don’t keep them mentally and physically stimulated. Exercise and training are your best friends. Train your dog to drop something on cue and then provide him with enough appropriate toys and chews and your stealing problem should disappear. Debbie McKnight is an accredited PetSmart trainer in Hurst, Texas.

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