Give

What you are training

You’re teaching the dog to drop an article in his mouth into your hand.

Why you should train this

  • One element of a retrieve
  • An exchange for thieves
  • If what the dog has is delicate, you’ll want the dog to put the article in your hand rather than drop it on the floor 
  • To reduce the risk of resource guarding

How you will train this

Initially you’ll exchange something of higher value than what the dog has.  He’ll learn that he most of the time gets his original article back, and he gets something of higher value.

Note that this is not the same as telling a dog to leave something.

Push, stick, drop?

Make sure that with each step of the training you know what your criteria is; what your dog needs to do in order to get a reward.

Perform each step 5 times.

  • If your dog gets it right at least 4 times you’re ready to push to the next step
  • If your dog gets it right 3 times, stick with this step until you can achieve a higher success rate
  • If your dog gets it right 2 times of less, drop back to the previous step

Using this method will allow you not only to quantify your success but to move through the training steps more quickly.

Step 1

Criteria

You will mark (‘yesss!’) your dog when he dropped what he has in his mouth into your hand.

  • Give the dog relatively low value toy and encourage him to hold onto it and tug it
  • Put your hand under the dog’s mouth
  • Put a treat under the dog’s nose, be prepared to catch the toy
  • The dog will release the toy, mark (‘yesss!’) 
  • Reward
  • Repeat
  • Give 2 rewards when the game ends

Step 2

If your dog is happily giving up the toy, use a more exciting toy.

Criteria

You will mark (‘yesss!’) your dog when he dropped what he has in his mouth into your hand.

  • Give the dog his favourite toy and encourage him to hold onto it and tug it
  • Put your hand under the dog’s mouth
  • Put a treat under the dog’s nose, be prepared to catch the toy
  • The dog will release the toy, mark (‘yesss!’) 
  • Reward
  • Repeat 
  • Give 2 rewards when the game ends

Step 3

If your dog is happily giving up his favourite toy, you can add a verbal command.

Criteria

You will mark (‘yesss!’)  your dog when he dropped what he has in his mouth into your hand.

  • Give the dog his favourite toy and encourage him to hold onto it and tug it
  • Say ‘give’
  • Put your hand under the dog’s mouth
  • Put a treat under the dog’s nose, be prepared to catch the toy
  • The dog will release the toy, mark (‘yesss!’) 
  • Reward
  • Repeat
  • Give 2 rewards when the game ends

Step 4

After having added a verbal command, start changing the placement of your hand.

Criteria

You will mark (‘yesss!’)  only when the toy is dropped into your hand.

  • Give the dog his favourite toy and encourage him to hold onto it and tug it
  • Say ‘give’
  • Put your hand under the dog’s mouth
  • Put a treat under the dog’s nose
  • Move your hand slightly so it’s not under the toy
  • The dog will release the toy, mark (‘yesss!’) 
  • Reward if the toy lands in your hand
  • Repeat
  • Give 2 rewards when the game ends

Help

  • Be sure not to pull at what the dog has in his mouth as this will turn into a game.

Homework

  • Ask each member of the family to do these exercises with your dog.
  • Vary the locations where you do these exercises; different rooms in the house, in the garden, when you’re out for a walk.
  • Practice step 4, very gradually moving your hand further away.
  • Vary what you’re asking the dog to give, and always make sure that it’s dropped into your hand.