How to Train Your Dog to Carry Groceries

Hard
2-4 Months
Chores

Introduction

How would you like a helping hand--or in this case, a paw--with carrying your groceries into the house? Most medium to large dogs can be taught this simple trick, all it really takes is dedication on your part along with plenty of time and patience.

The one thing you must be sure of is that your dog is big enough to handle the task. While you can teach any dog to carry a shopping bag, be sure to match the size of the bag and how much you put in it to the abilities of your dog. For example, a Great Dane will be able to carry a large bag and heavier load than a Border Collie.

Defining Tasks

The plan is to teach your dog to help you by carrying bags of groceries from your car to the kitchen or, if you have a service dog, from the store to your car and then from the car into your home. Sounds simple enough, right? While most dogs like to carry things around, teaching your dog to carry a plastic shopping bag can prove to be more challenging as most dogs don’t like the feeling of this material in their mouths.

In fact, it can take up to several months for you to reach the point at which your four-legged assistant will be able to come out to the car and help you with the groceries. However, he will enjoy learning and being able to do his part to help out the family. You will also be teaching him a new command such as "fetch the groceries" or simply "groceries" while you train him to do what you want when he hears the command.

While there is not a specific age limit at which you can start training your dog to carry the groceries, he does need to be old enough and big enough to handle the task. If you start too early, you risk injuring your pup by overloading his carrying capacity.

Getting Started

Part of a successful training program involves having everything you need on hand at the outset. These include:

  • Treats: To reward your pup each time he gets part or all of the training right.
  • The right command: Never start trying to train your dog a new task without knowing what command or commands you are going to use. Be sure everyone in your family is aware of these commands and that they are the only one to be used.
  • Shopping bags: Have several plastic or cloth shopping bags on hand for training purposes.
  • A quiet place: All training will go much more smoothly and quickly if you have a quiet place to work in.
  • Patience: No matter what type of training you are doing, you need to have plenty of patience to ensure neither you nor your pup gets frustrated. This can quickly ruin any chances of success you might have.

The Bag in Mouth Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
'Take it'
Hold the handles of an empty shopping bag in front of your dog's nose and encourage him to take it.
Step
2
Reward
When he takes it, give him a treat and praise him. Repeat until he does it every time.
Step
3
Carry
With the bag in his mouth, step back a few feet and call your dog. When he comes, give him a treat.
Step
4
Distance
Increase the distance until he is carrying the bag from the car to the kitchen.
Step
5
Load
Start adding groceries until he is carrying his own bag of groceries into the house for you. Be sure to reward him well and shower him with praise.
Recommend training method?

The Start with Toys Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Tempt
Take one of your dog's favorite toys, wave it in front of him, and then drop it on the floor near him.
Step
2
'Take it'
Give him the command you use when you want him to pick something up and when he does, praise him and a treat.
Step
3
Carry
Now that he is picking the item upon command, have him bring it to you. More treats and rewards.
Step
4
Bring in the bag
Once he has mastered this, put the toy in a shopping bag and repeat the above process until he is comfortably carrying the shopping bag from the car to the house.
Step
5
Move on to groceries
Replace the toy with groceries starting with a light load and work with him until he is carrying an appropriately loaded bag of groceries into the house for you. Be sure to give him lots of praise and treats for a job well done.
Recommend training method?

The Increasing Load Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
On location
Take your dog out to the car and hold the handles of an empty shopping bag out to him.
Step
2
'Take it'
Encourage him to take the bag in his mouth and when he does, give him a treat.
Step
3
Start small
Add a single can of food to the bag so that he can get used to carrying a load.
Step
4
Delivery
Have your dog follow you into the house and "give" you the bag. When he does so, shower him with praise and give him lots of treats.
Step
5
Challenge
Repeat this process slowly increasing the load until he is ready to help you with bringing in the groceries every time. Remember, lots of praise and plenty of treats will help make the process go faster and more smoothly.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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