Training Tip: Add Some Fun to Your Drop Command!

This issue’s training tip is contributed by Nan Daley, owner and trainer of one of the top All-American Dogs in AKC Obedience: Jasmine of Lindenbrook UD. Nan & Jasmine have won High in Trial awards and have received an invitation to compete in the 2016 AKC National Obedience Championship. Nan first met Jasmine when her daughter’s friend asked her to watch the pitbull for a day. He never came back to get her, and so Nan started training her and fell in love. Here, Nan tells us a great technique for getting a better and faster “down” on your dog.

Sometimes when you adopt rescue dogs, they can come with some “baggage” you need to overcome before you can compete successfully. 

For my dog, it was the “down” command.  Jasmine became sullen and acted as if it was punishment when she went down.  After ruling out medical issues, I tried using different words, but nothing really worked well. My trainer, Dorothy Mash, suggested I do this exercise, and it has helped my dog’s attitude and response time tremendously. 

This training exercise is best done when your dog already knows the command to drop or down, but you want to add some fun and motivate for a quicker response.  It is best done in a large area, but I have done it at match shows in the ring. 

You will need two of your dog’s favorite toys.  I keep the training toys away from my dog until we are working so they seem special and “new.”  I also rotate them so my dog never knows what fun toy is coming next!

Throw one of the toys about 10 feet away from your dog and say “get it.”  Let him get it; run, play and have some fun; and then give the drop command.  I use both verbal and signal when doing this, especially in the beginning. 

Once your dog drops, praise him and quickly throw the other toy and say “get it.”   Repeat this and let the dog have some fun, and then give another drop command.  He will figure out that the faster he drops, the faster he will get another toy thrown for him. 

I only do this a couple of times in a training session, so I don’t wear the dog out, and we keep it fun. It has helped us get a faster drop and added some fun in the process!