The Drop command is one of the most powerful tools used in dog training to control your dog. What I mean by this is that the 'DROP' can be used as a dominant command, like a 'Drop Stay' command and an 'EMERGENCY STOP' command.
To learn how to make your dog drop may be more difficult for some dogs than others. The bigger dogs like the Mastiff and the Rottweiler will drop more easily than the smaller dogs, because this is a more comfortable position than the sit or the stand for long periods. The smaller breeds like the Jack Russell may wish to stand rather than drop, because little dogs can stand for longer periods.
When you start teaching your dog to drop, you will be able to start at any age, the younger the dog the better. Like any sort of training for dogs you need to remember the following.
* Be fair on the dog, not hard.
* Do not over practice the same command so the dog gets board, keep repetitions in sets of 5 to 7.
* Praise the Dog immediately when it has accomplished something good.
* Never loose your Temper or Hit your Dog.
* Always finish on a good note.
* Make training fun for both of you.
* Use food at the early stages and then wean off to a pat \ verbal praise.
* Correct the dogs mistakes immediately.
How to make your Dog's first Drop happen
If you have a young pup or a mature dog you can use the same technique.
Follow these basic steps:
* Play with your Dog and get it out of the "I'm Bored Look". This is done by walking the dog, playing with a ball, a stick or just rolls on the floor with the dog and let the dog play fight with you.
* It is important not to let your dog get over excited. If it is, then calm the dog down by you not being too excited with your actions or voice. Otherwise gently pat the dog until it calms, but do not reward the dog for being excited. When you pat the dog, pat from the top of the head to half way down its back slowly.
* Now you should have the dogs complete attention.
* If you have food, (small chunks or cat biscuits, something with lots of smell and taste) then you can hold a tiny piece in-between your thumb and forefinger. Swiftly pass the food right past the dogs nose, so the dog gets the smell.
* Now you should really have your dogs attention.
* Have the dog sitting in front of you.
* Place the food in your hand about 1cm. from the dogs nose, but do not let the dog eat or taste the food yet.
* Move your hand slowly in a 'C' shape movement. This is done from the dogs nose, your hand is moving away from you and towards the dogs stomach. Then back towards you with your hand just skimming the floor.
* It is important to do this at a speed that is not too fast for the dog and also not too slow or the dog may stand up out of its sit position.
* Your dogs nose should be following the food now, as the dogs head gets lower place your other hand on the dogs back where the shoulder blades are. Only use your hand as a guide. You do not need to add pressure.
* As the dog follows the food to the ground it will lie down. If the dog does not drop look at the troubleshooting section at the bottom of this page.
* As soon as the dog lies down give the 'DROP' command, if this has all gone according to plan 'PRAISE' the dog immediately.
The praise can be verbal as well as food.
If no success then tries again, you must remember these important points.
* Have your dog sitting first.
* If the Dog gets up from the sit, start again.
* If the Dog continues to stand before you even perform the 'C' movement then this is because you may have hesitated for too long with the food under the dogs nose.
* Start again if it is not right, but don't be hard on the dog and don't lose your temper. If you feel frustrated or angry (maybe at something else), then put training off to another time. But, you need to finish on a good note by praising the dog for the sit or just playing with the dog.
* Praise the dog immediately on the correct movement.
* Keep the dog's attention. Don't let it get bored.
* If the dog growls or snaps at you during this exercise it could mean that your dog is in pain or has a dominant behavioral problem. (Any of these need to be seen by a Veterinarian.)
* Any other problems you could try the next method or go and see you local dog trainer for advice and practical instruction.
Once you have taught your dog to 'Drop' and you have practiced this indoors and outdoors, it is time to practice on a lead.
If you still have trouble getting your dog to drop then try coaching the dog under something with food. This can be an arch made by your leg or get him to crawl under a chair. Food should be your answer to motivate your dog, if your dog is not food orientated then use a ball or a stick.
On a more serious note, there could come a time when you have to make the gut wrenching decision to put your dog down.