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Four Simple Rules About the "Drop" Command
Training your dog to drop and deliver to your hand is important for training any hunting dog but it is an ESSENTIAL command for your retriever or bird dog. Even though teaching the drop is considered by many to be one of the last steps in the whole training process, it needs to be understood and started at the very beginning. A young puppy is going to want to play and you will want to pull toys, ropes, or anything else he brings you, out of his mouth but, it is imperative that you not pull those items out of a bird dog’s mouth if you want him to end up with a “soft” mouth. Developing your dog into the best possible retriever he can be, is a process that requires research and thought even before you bring your dog home from the breeder. Therefore, before you even teach him to fetch, you can teach him to drop, it won’t be dead birds or even dummies you use early on but, the instinct will be ingrained.
No Pulling Allowed:
Never pull, snatch or tug a bird or anything else out of your puppy’s mouth. As Richard A. Wolters says in his book 'Gun Dog', “he has worked hard for it and it is not his instinct to give it to you.” Make sure everyone that will be involved in the dog’s life understands this rule. Tug of war is not allowed, even as tempting as it will be.
Dropping Is Not A Game:
Dropping the bird should not be considered a game where he runs and plays. Your dog needs to understand that retrieving is a job, one that he will take very seriously if properly trained. A dog of any breed has but one main goal and that is to please his master. If he learns early on that what he brings you he is to deliver to your hand, without waiver, then he will be way ahead of the game when you put him in the field. No hunter wants to have to walk 3 feet out to pick up a duck. Train him as a puppy to drop everything in your hand.
Prevention Is Far Better Than Correction:
A well bred retriever puppy will, without a doubt, retrieve all kinds of objects around your home. Of course, this is encouraged because he is simply honing his natural instinct to retrieve. The key is not to snatch or yell at him for retrieving an item, it is what he was born to do. Allow him to bring the item to you and calmly give him the drop command. If he doesn’t drop it in your hand then simply flick his nose or squeeze the sides of his canine teeth while saying drop until he drops it. At this point offer praise. If the item was one you would prefer he not retrieve then simply put it out of his reach, it’s not his fault that you left out your best pair of slippers.
Never Run After Your Pup To Get Him To Drop Anything:
If you or anyone else in the family runs after him he will think it is a game and will just provoke you. As tempting as it is to play a game of chase, don’t be tempted to chase him with an object in his mouth. This will create issues that you will later have to correct.
Teaching your dog to drop on command is as important as any other command and can be taught early and when taught early, he never forgets. Even though the formal side of training won’t really begin until he is a little older, it is the same exact process. The only difference is that he will be bringing you birds and not socks.