A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog about “drop it” and just how often I use it with my 18-month-old lab, Tucker. Recently, I taught him a variant on “drop it” that I call “give.”
I found that often when I was tossing a soft toy for Tucker inside the house, I was sitting on our high kitchen chairs or laying on the couch and when he brought the toy back, he would drop it on the floor, meaning I had to bend over to get it. He already knew “drop it” and would automatically do it when bringing back a toy, so I started putting my hand out flat and saying “give.” He would drop the toy and it would land in my hand. Soon he came to understand that “give” meant to put it in my hand and “drop it” meant to put it on the floor. This was an important distinction as the last thing I wanted was for him to try to put his dirty, slobbery tennis ball in my hand. When he brings that nasty thing back, it is definitely a “drop it.”
Now this was a cute trick and did save my back from continually having to bend over to get his toy, but I didn’t realize that it might actually become useful until one day when Tucker picked up a glass canning jar. Why did he pick up an empty, clean jar? You’ll have to ask him, but as he trotted around my dining room with it, it occurred to me that if he were to drop it, there was a chance that it would break and potentially hurt him. Then I realized, I could ask him to “give,” and what do you know, it worked! He trotted over and delivered it into my hand. No harm done.