Re: Outs/holds and treats....
For the "drop it", this is what I would recommend.
First, get some mozarella cheese. Cut it into tiny cubes. Pop several cubes into your mouth and tuck them into your cheek.
Grab a toy and get Nikon. Tease him with the toy, encourage him to grab it, and play a bit of tug. Then say "drop it" and immediately (don't wait for him to drop it) start spitting bits of cheese down onto his head. If he's interested in food, he'll let go of the toy. Then simply praise while he's eating all the bits of food.
Walk away and ignore him for a few minutes. If you spit out all the cheese, go back to the kitchen and pop some more into your mouth (try not to have Nikon follow you if you're concerned about his focus on the food). Go back into the room, and start teasing him with the toy again. If he'll grab it and tug, practice tugging a bit and then do the "drop it"/spit cheese again.
The idea is not to give the command and then wait to reward with the food. The idea is that the food will create the behavior you want - letting go of the toy - and then he will be rewarded by eating the food that's already dropped. Since it's in your mouth (and mozarella is not very smelly so it's not nearly as apparent as some other types of food) he can't really know when it's there or not there.
I would use the cheese spitting a couple of times, then stop and do it again the next day (or at least give it several hours between sessions). After a few sessions, you should be able to say "drop it" and he'll spit that toy out in anticipation of the food. At that point, you can introduce a new reward - throwing the toy instead. I would still encourage you to use the food at random intervals to keep the behavior strong, but generally once they learn that "drop it" means a fun game, they are pretty consistent with it.
With Kenya, I would go back and make sure you really reinforce each level of training before going on. By that I mean that you set her up to do a formal session, you have her on leash so she can't wander off, you use an item that's only for training and not for play (like a dumbbell), and you reinforce highly for just looking at it until she will glance at it quickly no matter where you hold it (to the right of her head, to the left, above, below). Then you progress to the next level (may take a few days before she's ready for the next level) and allow her to glance at it but then don't respond - stay absolutely still and let her get a bit frustrated at your lack of response. This will push her to make a move toward it. Then you reward that movement, and do that until she willingly and quickly goes toward the dumbbell every time you hold it out. Again, this may take days (and even if she seems to do it well the first session, you should practice this for a few sessions so that this stage is very solid before going on).
When she's ready, you hold out the dumbbell and let her make the move toward it, but don't give any response. Let her get a bit frustrated so that she escalates the behavior and actually touches it. Reward that, and continue to reward it for a few sessions until she will quickly touch the dumbbell no matter where you hold it.
Then you go to the mouthing. Since you've been teaching her that all of this training is about focusing on the dumbbell, she will likely try to escalate the behavior pretty quickly once you stop rewarding for touching. Even the slightest mouthing should be rewarded at first, and then gradually expect her to mouth it more firmly.
I've used this on dogs with zero retrieving instinct and had them learn to pick up and hold objects, but it can take a long time with a non-retrieving type dog. My chows learn this way and it's effective. Most of the time the problems come when we humans rush things (we tend to assume that our dogs understand before they do). With a dog highly motivated to fetch and hold, this may only take a couple of weeks to get to the point of mouthing. With a dog who isn't motivated, it may take a month or more of daily practice. But if they really want the reward, they WILL figure out how to get it.
Hope this helped some.
Melanie and the gang in Alaska
Positive 1ST! More reward, less correction makes a GREAT trainer.
Chows: Khana CD RE SD & Dora NA NAJ GSD: Tazer SDIT
Total of 2UDs 3CDXs 12CDs 2REs 8AgilityTitles 1BH Chow!
20 Yrs Training/Teaching Experience