Why teach a dog to "drop it"? If you have a young puppy, you know the answer to this - it's because they frequently have something valuable or dangerous in their mouths! The goal is that when you cue "drop it", your dog will open her mouth and allow you to retrieve the item. It is very important to make sure your dog is making a good bargain with you for her prize (you give her a good treat) and that you stay calm and don't chase her. If this is taught correctly, your dog will be happy to hear you say "drop it". If your dog isn't happy to hear "drop it" for all items yet, then it is best to keep those items out of reach until you have practiced with them. This exercise is also important because it can prevent food guarding. If your dog knows that you do not "steal", she will not worry about you approaching favorite items.
Get together a few items your dog might like to chew on, your clicker and some good treats like cheese or turkey.
Have a piece of food ready in your other hand as you encourage your dog to chew on one of the objects. Once she has her mouth on it, put a piece of food close to her nose and say "drop it". Click when she opens her mouth and feed her the treat as you pick up the item with your other hand. Return the item to her.
Try to get her to pick up the object again so you can continue practicing, but beware that once your dog knows there are treats involved she may want to keep her mouth free for eating! In this case, keep your treats handy throughout the day and whenever you see her randomly pick up an object or toy you can practice. Aim for at least 10 repetitions per day. Occasionally you will not be able to give her the object back (if she's found a forbidden object), but that's okay. Just be sure to give her an extra nice treat.
Repeat the process in #2 exactly, but this time you will be sneaky and won't actually have the treat in the hand that you put close to her nose ("empty fingers"). She will most likely drop the object anyway and you can click and get the treat out of your pouch. Give her the equivalent of 3 treats the first time you use empty fingers and she drops the item. After a few days of practicing, try it with a tasty item. Get a carrot or hard chew. Hold it in your hand and offer the other side of the item to your dog to chew on, but don't let go! Let her put her mouth on it and then cue "drop it". Give her the equivalent of 3 treats the first time she does this and offer her the object again. If your dog won't retake the item, just put it away and practice another time. Get 10 reps of this before going on to step 6.
Get your hard chew again and some really fresh yummy treats (meat or cheese). This time you will offer the object to your dog and let go and then right away cue "drop it". When she does give her the equivalent of 10 of your extra yummy treats and then give her the item to keep (this should make a very good impression!). If she doesn't release the item, try showing her your treat first and if that doesn't work, just let her have it and try again later with a lower value food-related item. You will be able to build up to the highest value items once your dog realizes it is worth her while to listen.
Practice the "drop it" with real-life objects around that she enjoys but are not allowed such as: tissues, pens (begin with an empty one), wrappers, shoes. Then practice this outside!
Always use acceptable chewing objects when practicing "drop it". You don't want to encourage your dog to pick up and drop something you wouldn't otherwise want her getting a hold of.
If your dog already enjoys grabbing objects and getting ready for a game of chase, you should begin by teaching her that you will not chase her. Just ignore her and then she will probably drop the item on her own once she is bored of it. If your puppy likes to play the game of chase during your training sessions, attach a leash to her collar first so she cannot leave you.
If your dog will not drop a dangerous item, even for a yummy treat (or if you don't have one at the moment - shame on you!) place your fingers on the lips of her upper jaw where her canines are and push in and pull up. This will open her mouth so you can retrieve the item. Make sure you give her a big reward (even if you're frustrated) for allowing this invasive treatment and keep that item out of reach in the future until you can use it for practice.
It's okay to show her a treat if she has a forbidden item that is higher in value than what she has been training with. Be careful not to make a habit of this!
Practice "drop it" during tug and fetch games.
Another way to practice this is by putting a plate of tasty treats on the ground, then with your pup on leash walk past the plate. As your pup starts to go for the food tell them "Drop It" - and reward them for not grabbing at the food on the plate. This is great practice for situations that happen as you walk around parks and there are wrappers and trash that your pup will want to grab.
Please spay and neuter your animals. There are so many homeless animals out there, why add to the overpopulation?
Be careful, your dog might think you are rewarding him for chewing the object!
If you sense you might be inadvertently training your puppy to find objects to trade for a yummy treat, train her to do other things instead. That will provide her with mental stimulation she needs and with the treats she desires. *If your puppy is frantic about guarding or keeping food, take her to a veterinarian for a check-up. She might be food-obsessed because of worms, or other gastrointestinal disturbances. If she ever went hungry or if her mother did not have enough milk for the litter, she may seem to worry more about food. Be understanding of her needs, but provide guidance for this behavior.