Dog issues with release of Toys

Does Your Dog Refuse to Release the Toy Reward?

Many handlers have issues with this. While it might drive you crazy, this is also what makes the dog work harder when detecting substances. To the dog, this reward is a high-value item, and to get it, they must find what they have been trained to locate. Once they get the reward, they want to possess it and not give it back. They have worked hard and want to satisfy themselves with it.

As handlers, we may not recognize this, and after a few seconds, call the dog to release the reward. Typically, the dog refuses to give it up, so we start the process of making them release it. This usually follows a pattern of three or four release commands followed by lifting the dog and choking them until they drop it. As this pattern is repeated over and over, it is possible to see the dog tense up on the first command until the handler begins choking. It is not as if they do not understand the release command; they just want to keep the reward.

Multiple commands do not work either. Lifting the dog and choking them does not either. It just reinforces the behavior in the dog to hold on if they can. The dog has learned over time that the behavior you have shown means the dog must give up the reward, and you are not going to give it back.

Therein lies the answer. You need to give it back. Once they learn you are not going to keep it, they will release. Sounds easy. Maybe not. You have developed a consistent pattern of choking the dog to release. Now you must change the pattern. It will work better if the dog is not lying down. With one command only, no pressure on the leash, give the release command. Now you must wait until they drop it. This could take some time, but when they do, reach down and flip it back to them. Let them have it for a few seconds and repeat. After several repetitions, they begin to understand the game. After a few tosses back to them, just pick up the reward and put it away, the game is over. Work on this after searches, and you will see an improvement in the out or release.  

Think of the many times you played fetch with this same article. The dog understood that bringing it back, dropping it at your feet, meant you would throw it again. The same game just applied differently.

Do you have release issues with the bite? Hmmm…

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