Whether you want to throw a Frisbee for the thousandth time or rescue your favorite sandals, you will eventually need to extract an object from your puppy's mouth. Teaching your puppy to release an object on your command will serve you well when your toddler drops food on the floor or your furry pal finds a dead squirrel in the backyard, but the savvy pet parent should also create an emergency plan before training is complete.
Train your dog to release an object by trading an object for something with higher value. Offer your dog his favorite toy or treat, then reach for the object in his mouth with one hand, while giving the release command, such as "Trade." Extend the treat with your other hand. When your puppy drops the toy and takes the treat, he has been rewarded for releasing something he wanted. You can also teach the release command while playing tug of war. When you are ready for the release, give the command and stop tugging on the toy. As soon as the puppy releases the toy, resume the game as a reward.
Develop a consistent command for asking your puppy to release a toy or object. Popular commands include "Drop it," "Trade," "Leave it" and "Give." Use the same command regardless of the circumstances so your pooch doesn't get confused. The only exception is when you want to train your puppy to leave an object on the ground, as well as to hand you an object. In this case, assign a command to each desired response.
When your puppy "steals" something that doesn't belong to him, avoid chasing him or yelling commands he does not understand. Instead, redirect his attention to something else he might want, such as a treat or toy. If your puppy will allow you to calmly approach him, the ASPCA suggests manually removing the object from his mouth while telling him "No." If your puppy ingests a toxic substance, take him to a veterinarian immediately.
If your puppy has displayed aggressive behaviors, especially with regard to his possessions, avoid confrontation. You can try training him with an item he does not want. Hand him a stick or other wooden object, then give the release command as he lets it fall out of his mouth. Reward him with a treat. Repetition is the key to success: Repeat this training session 10 times daily. Find a professional trainer who specializes in aggressive or territorial dogs if the problem persists.
Laura College is a former riding instructor, horse trainer and veterinary assistant. She has worked as a writer since 2004, producing articles and sales copy for corporations and nonprofits. College has also published articles in numerous publications, including "On the Bit," "Practical Horseman" and "American Quarter Horse Journal."