It can be a daunting job teaching your dog to drop their favourite bone or toy after they have fetched it. Sometimes your dog may even be aggressive about not letting go of their favourite bone. It is important to teach your dog that they need to give all food, bones, and toys back to you when you ask for them.

Although it may seem very overwhelming to train your dog to give up something so delicious as a bone, it can actually be done very simply. Your training needs to start with an object that your dog does not like as much as a bone. To start your training, use a leash so your dog cannot get away and then throw a new toy that your dog has never played with before. After your dog picks up the new toy and brings it to you, offer him a small treat. By offering any treat such as a small piece of cheese, hotdog or steak in exchange for the toy, you are showing your dog that he can give up one item for another. Since they are giving up an item and receiving something they want more your dog may think this process is actually very easy. Practice this exercise frequently with a variety of different toys that your dog is not extremely attached to.

After you have practiced this exercise with several different toys around your home, then you may try it with your dog’s favourite bone. The best type of bone you can feed your dog is a knucklebone because it does not splinter and is too large for your dog to swallow. You can give your dog rawhide bones, but only if you are going to be near to supervise them while they are eating it. Rawhide has been known to break off and get swallowed and choked on by dogs. No matter what the size of the rawhide is, it is not ok to leave your dog unattended while chewing on it, once the rawhide becomes soft your dog may try to swallow it whole and it could become lodged in their throat.

By combining the use of new and old toys with rawhide and knucklebones you can continue to practice your fetch and drop exercises with your dog. Slowly phase out the reward for dropping the item. Instead, occasionally use a reward of petting and praising only without giving them a food treat. Once your dog has become accustomed to sometimes receiving praise and sometimes receiving a treat you can phase out the treats even further.

You may just be surprised at how quickly your dog learns to give up their favourite toy, bone, or rawhide after only a view practice sessions. Most dogs are eager to please their owners and as soon as they realize it makes you happy when they give up a toy they’ve will continue this behaviour.

Article by Kelly Marshall of Oh My Dog Supplies