How to Train Your Dog to Carry a Bucket

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Chores

Introduction

Training your dog to carry a bucket is a relatively simple task, made easier by the fact that most dogs like to carry things in their mouths and that they like to feel useful. While this type of training is more about fun than about teaching him a new chore, it does come in handy. You can teach your dog to bring you a bucket out in the garden or carry one back to the house for you. In reality, training your dog to carry a bucket is just an extension of teaching him to retrieve or fetch a specific item.  For many dogs, the hardest part of the training is teaching your dog what particular item you want him  to carry or bring back to you.

Not only is teaching your dog this neat trick going to prove useful, it can also be used as a great party trick when you have company. The best part is that your dog will enjoy what he is doing and in time you may find him doing so without being asked to.

Defining Tasks

The task at hand is training your dog to pick up a bucket and then to bring it to you or carry it along as you go for a walk. You can teach virtually any dog to carry a bucket as long as he is big and strong enough to carry the bucket. However, since this trick does include carrying a certain amount of weight, you may want to wait until your pup has matured and his bones have had a chance to fully form.

You can use any command you choose as long as it is unique to this particular task. You might try, "bring me the bucket" or "fetch me the bucket", making sure your dog knows what bucket you are talking about. This is a relatively easy task for most dogs to learn and should only take a few weeks for him to master.

Getting Started

It doesn’t take much for you to get started training your dog to carry a bucket. You need a few basic items used in most forms of training, including:

  • Treats: To reward your pup for getting it right.
  • A clicker: An alternative training tool used by many professional trainers.
  • A bucket: Be sure to get one your dog can handle both when it is empty and when it has stuff in it.
  • Patience: You can never have enough patience when you are trying to teach your dog new tricks.
  • A quiet place: Most forms of training are best done in a quiet area free of distractions such as traffic, kids, TV noise, and other animals.

Like most forms of dog training, you will get the best results when you start out in a quiet yard or room in your home. It could take a few days for your pup to get used to the feeling of the bucket handle in his mouth, but time and patience (as well as a large supply of treats) will pay off and before long, your pup will be hauling buckets anywhere you need him to.

The Backwards Method

ribbon-method-1
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Drop it
Place the handle of the bucket in your dog's mouth. Give him a ‘drop it’ command and reward him with a treat when he does so.
Step
2
Delivery
Move your hand further away from the bucket and let him come to you before he releases it. Give him a treat for getting it right.
Step
3
Take it
Have him pick the bucket up and "give it" to you. More treats.
Step
4
Add distance
Move further away and give the dog your chosen command. When he complies and brings the bucket to you, be sure to give him lots of praise and treats.
Step
5
Take it outside
Finally, have him fetch the bucket and carry it with him as you move around the yard or go for a short walk. Training him like this is very effective and in most cases, will take very little time.
Recommend training method?

The Peanut Butter Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Lure
Encourage your pup to touch the handle of the bucket by putting a little peanut butter on it.
Step
2
Reward
When he does, give him lots of praise and a treat.
Step
3
Take it
Place the bucket on the floor and tell your dog to pick it up using your choice of commands.
Step
4
Retrieve
Next place the bucket on the floor a few feet away from your dog and, using your chosen command, encourage him to go pick it up and bring it back to you. Give lots of treats and praise when he gets it right.
Step
5
Challenge
Finally, start moving the bucket further away until he will fetch it and carry it to you whenever you ask him to. Soon he will go fetch the bucket and carry it to you or anywhere else with you such as to the front door filled with candy for trick or treaters.
Recommend training method?

The Take It Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Take it
Tell your dog to get the bucket using the ‘take it’ command.
Step
2
Deliver
Have your dog bring you the bucket and reward him using the clicker and a treat to let him know he has done well.
Step
3
Add distance
Extend the distance a little at a time, clicking and rewarding him each time he brings you the bucket.
Step
4
Retrieve
Put the bucket on the floor and walk away several feet or across the yard or room.
Step
5
Practice
Give your chosen command and reward your dog with praise, clicks, and of course a treat. It won't take much of this training before you can simply say "fetch me the bucket" and your pup will dash off only to return with the bucket swinging from his mouth.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Amy Caldwell

Published: 12/26/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Leo
Labrador Retriever
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
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Leo
Labrador Retriever
1 Year

How do I teach him to heel?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
250 Dog owners recommended

Walking with your dog at a "heel" is more formal than walking your dog on a loose leash. Teaching a dog to heel involves training it to stay close by your side while walking and it is a great way to instill self-control in your dog whether it's on or off leash. Any dog—even the most energetic pups—can learn to heel and teaching this command is not too hard as long as you're persistent and consistent. Prepare for Training You will need to have plenty of treats on hand. For training (especially when introducing a new or difficult command), choose treats that your dog absolutely can't resist. Small pieces are best because you will be giving your dog lots of treats at first to reward good behavior and you don't want to spoil your dog's diet. For stubborn dogs or small dogs that make it difficult to bend down and offer treats while in the heel position, use a long-handled spoon coated with peanut butter, cream cheese, or wet dog food. You can train a dog to heel with or without a leash. If you're working with your dog off-leash, make sure that you're in a safe area, such as a fenced-in yard. For your first attempts, be sure to stay in an area with little distraction, such as your backyard. If you go somewhere that has too many other interesting things going on, treats may not be enough to hold your dog's attention. Sit, Heel, and Treat Continuously Start off with your dog sitting on your left side. Hold a handful of treats or the wooden spoon close to your dog's nose, and tell it to "heel." Begin to walk. For the first few tries, take just a few steps and give your dog treats continuously. Treat Less Often Once you're able to walk with your dog at a heel for several yards, it's time to start cutting down on the number of treats you give it. Again, begin with your dog sitting at your left side, and give the command "heel." Give the dog a treat and then take a step before giving it another. Be sure to give your dog a treat before its interests wander. Keep the distance you walk with your dog at a heel fairly short, and gradually work up to walking a yard or two between treats. Add Distance Once you're able to walk several yards with your dog in a heel with only a few treats, it's time to start adding more distance to your walk. You can give your dog treats, but begin to slowly phase them out. If your dog is continually breaking out of a heel at any point, you may be moving ahead too quickly. Go back and repeat the distance and number of treats where you were last successful in keeping your dog at a heel. Add Distraction Once you're able to walk a fairly long distance with fewer treats, it's time to add some distraction. You can work on this training at a park or take walks through your neighborhood on a leash. When you first begin this, you may need to go back to treating your dog continuously and keep the walks short until it understands what's expected. Again, slowly work up to longer distances and fewer treats. Fade Out the Treats After practicing walking with your dog at a heel for long distances, you should be able to stop using treats altogether. Slowly add more and more distance to the walk with fewer treats given. Your dog should soon be able to heel without getting any (or very occasional) treats. Problems and Proofing Behavior It's not uncommon for dogs to break out of the heel when learning this command, especially early on. Your patience and consistency are key to working through some of the challenges you'll face. Keep with it and your dog will eventually learn what you want it to do. If needed, go back a step or two at any stage in the training. One of the common mistakes owners make is moving onto the next step before the dog is ready, so it seems like it forgot the previous lessons. If your dog makes several mistakes in a row, simply go back to giving it more treats and walking a shorter distance. Take your time, then slowly build back up to having it walk at a heel for longer distances. Keep a close eye on your dog's body language. You can often learn to anticipate when your dog is about to break away from the heel position. If you notice your dog's muscles bunch or that it begins to fixate on something besides the treats, give the "heel" command again, then pivot to the left and walk in the opposite direction. Your dog will quickly learn that it's important to pay attention to you.

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