Teaching your dog to « give it »

“Give it” is an important cue to teach a dog. It can save more than a couple of socks or baby toys: It can save your dog’s life if he ever grabs something potentially dangerous. “Give it” is however not a fun command from the dog’s perspective. In his mind, “give it” sounds more like “give up”, as in giving up something that he truly values. Not fun.



This should not be the case. We should teach a dog that “giving it” is something positive with good consequences, and not something that means the fun is over. Here’s how:

First, grab some of your dog’s favorite treats or a high-value toy.

Then, choose one of these two exercises:

1)   Teaching GIVE IT with treats

Ask your dog to “give it”, and immediately reward him by offering him delicious treats. Then, give him back whatever you ask him to give at the first place. Your dog is learning that by “giving it”, he gets to eat tasty treats AND he gets back what he gave up quickly. Double win!

2)   Teaching GIVE it with a toy

Ask your dog to “give it”, and offer him in exchange another high-value toy that you both can play with. Then ask him to give it back, and give him the previous toy. Make the exchanges fun! Your dog is learning that “give it” never stops the fun, quite the opposite.

Another great “give it” exercise: TUGGING! And your dog will have a blast while he learns in this structured play. We wrote an article on tugging that you can read here: https://www.ovenbakedtradition.com/en/dog/playing-with-my-dog-tug-of-war

But I want my dog to “give it” even though I do not have treats or toys in exchange!

Of course! Treats or toys are simply learning tools to teach your dog that the command “give it” is positive and not the end of the world or the fun. This way, he won’t think twice about “giving it” when you ask him to on a walks. It will be something that he does immediately because he LIKES to do it. Dogs that “give it” because they are scared to be corrected otherwise usually end up stealing things or eating them very quickly before their owners have a chance to take them back. This is even more dangerous! Imagine you are on a walk and your dog grabs chicken bones. You would want him to give it back quickly, wouldn’t you? As your dog learns to give it on command, you can sometimes reward him instead of systematically. The possibility of being rewarded is more often than not enough to motivate any dogs to do something.

Happy training!