Dogs like to pick things up. Hurley loves to pick up socks left in the washing. He runs away with them and hides them in his basket. If he is caught and told to drop them, he will; however, not all dogs will release things. They may pick up something they should not, like a toy, or sock, or food. Or they may have their ball and not want to give it back so the owner can throw it. Taking things from a dog’s mouth, and in particular food, can be risky. We would only recommend doing this if you are very sure of the dog and the dog’s temperament.
Being able to take food out of the mouth of a dog is an important indicator of hierarchal pack mentality and your place within it. As an owner or handler, you should be able to take food out of the mouth of your dog, as you should be the ‘alpha’ pack member in your dogs mind, thus it should be submissive to you. We do not recommend you try this without careful knowledge of the dog, its behaviour and a deep understanding of pack order. Even the smallest dog breeds can have a nasty bite, and pet dogs will naturally follow their instincts to protect their food item.
For the purposes of this technique, we will assume we are asking the dog to a release a ball from its mouth.
Rewards should reduce until they are used only as random reinforcer's.
If you would like to know more about looking after your dog, or any other pet, take a look at our eBooks or short courses. These offer a great resource for reference and a quick way to learn about a topic or refresh your knowledge. Titles include:
Caring For Dogs eBook
Dog Owners Short Course
Cat Care eBook