Teaching your dog to give up can sometimes be complicated, especially for stubborn and obstinate dogs. But rest assured, it is possible to teach your dog to give up while having fun and through fun and educational exercises. Here is how.
Why teach your dog to give up?
Teaching your dog to give up is essential in his education; it allows you to control your dog, avoid potentially undesirable behaviours in our eyes, and teach your dog to manage a fundamental emotion, which is frustration.
Indeed, a dog who knows how to give up, who has learned to give up, is a dog who will be able to manage his frustration and who will accept the limits, the framework and the possible constraints that will be imposed throughout his life.
Moreover, teaching your dog to give up means teaching him to control himself, manage his emotions, lower his pressure and find a stable emotional state.
For example, when guests arrive, and my dog excessively greets them, I ask him to give up this action by going to his basket: I then allow my dog to stop an action in progress which brings him too much excitement to find, through the return to calm in the basket. This more stable emotional state is more acceptable to society.
Thus, learning to give up also allows the dog to better integrate into the family, within its social group, and more generally within society.
How to teach your dog to give up?
Several exercises can be used to work on surrender, and I would like to introduce you to some of them that are effective, fun and, above all, educational.
You will quickly understand that the primary goal of these exercises is to teach your dog that giving up is winning! Indeed, it will always be essential to reward and congratulate your dog for giving up. He must understand that by giving up this or that action, he gets a reward!
The “you let go” exercise
This exercise allows you to teach your dog to give up an external element and return to his master.
Step 1: Provide treats and a toy/object that your dog enjoys but not his favourite toy. His favourite toy will be used when the following steps are 100% acquired. It is always better to have a slow but beneficial progression than to learn too quickly and therefore inconclusively.
Step 2: Place your dog in a sitting position, facing you, and begin the following conditioning: “You let go” = treat. Do not do anything more than saying “you let go” while giving your dog a treat immediately.
It may seem counterintuitive to say “leave it” while giving your dog a treat, but by doing this, you are teaching your dog that as soon as you say “leave it,” he gets a reward from you.
This step may take several sessions, and you can repeat it as many times as necessary. Don’t try to get your dog to “leave” an outside item if you are not sure that the conditioning is 100% complete.
Step 3: Take the object or toy of low value to your dog in one hand and your treats in the other. Hide your hand containing the treats and present the toy to your dog, saying “you leave”.
If your dog is utterly indifferent to the object you present to him, feel free to choose another.
If your dog is interested in the toy for 2 seconds and when you say “leave it”, he looks away from the object: reward him warmly by giving him a treat with your other hand.
Repeat these steps as many times as necessary and make the exercises more complicated by offering your dog objects of greater value to him, by performing this exercise in more and more exciting places, with more and more distance between you and him, etc.
The “on/off” exercise
This exercise allows you to teach your dog self-control and immediate withdrawal from an action already in progress.
Step 1: Provide your dog with treats and a toy such as a knotted rope or ball on a string.
Step 2: Place your dog in a sitting position, facing you. Stand up straight and present the toy to your dog, but don’t allow him to reach for it yet. If he tries to grab it, put it back in its place and take a few steps back.
Step 3: Hold the toy out in front of you, bend down slightly and invite your dog (with great enthusiasm) to grab the toy. Keep the toy in your hand and begin a tug-of-war with your dog. Don’t let go of the toy and move as close to the ground as possible from right to left. Be very playful; your dog must understand that you are playing with him: lean towards him, be enthusiastic, smile, encourage him to grab the toy, etc.
Step 4: After a few seconds, before your dog gets too excited, stand up straight and say firmly, “you let go”! Stop pulling on the toy and try to stay as still as possible. The contrast between your playful attitude and you’re giving up perspective should be evident to your dog, so don’t hesitate to exaggerate your moods.
If your dog gives up, wait until he calms down and then repeats step 3 to reward him. You can repeat this two or three times and then, at the end of the session, reward him for letting go by giving him a treat and saying, “it’s over.
If your dog doesn’t let go, more firmly say “you let go” and trade the toy for another toy of equal value or a highly palatable treat. Don’t be discouraged; for some dogs, this exercise may be more complex than for others. Most importantly, for your dog to progress, he must understand that he will always win by giving up!
The “yes/no” exercise
This exercise allows you to teach your dog not to do what he would have done spontaneously by teaching him to wait for his master’s validation (or not) before initiating any action.
Step 1: Provide your dog with treats and have him sit in front of you.
Step 2: Present your dog with a treat and give him an indication of validation: “yes”, “take”, “ok”, etc. Here, your intonation will be very important to nuance with the next step.
Step 3: Repeat the previous step two or three times and the next time presents your dog with a treat, giving a firm indication of prohibition: “no”, “you leave”, “no touching”, etc.
As soon as your dog has given up, i.e. looked away, turned his nose, head, etc., reward him with a big “yes” and give him the famous treat.
Then, you can complicate the exercise by rewarding your dog for giving up, not by allowing him to take the famous treat in your hand but by rewarding him with a treat from your other hand.
To conclude, teaching your dog to give up can quickly become an absolute pleasure since the exercises presented here are finally fun games to propose to your dog, they allow you to work on giving up, but also to mentally exercise your dog, to reinforce your relationship with him but also his obedience!