How to Train Your Dog to Carry Things

Medium
3-4 Weeks
Chores

Introduction

Wouldn't you like your dog to be able to lend a helping hand, or in this case mouth, carrying items such as grocery bags, his toys, one of your child's stuffed animals, a beer, or just about anything else? Not only can his ability to carry an item be helpful to you, but it is a really great trick to show off in front of your friends. Bear in mind that teaching your dog to carry things will require several training sessions over the course of about four weeks.

In order for this type of training to be successful, you need to choose a specific toy or object and stick with it until your dog has mastered the trick and will do it every time you ask him to do so. While this is not really a difficult task for your dog to master, it will require a certain amount of time and patience in order for him to get it. The good news is that most dogs naturally carry things in their mouth so teaching him to do so on command should not be that difficult.

Defining Tasks

This particular task is relatively simple in nature, you are simply asking your dog to do something that comes naturally to him: carry objects in his mouth. The only really hard part about it is training him to carry what you ask him to carry when you want him to do so. In essence, you will be training your dog a series of commands, including ‘pick it up’, ‘hold it’, ‘fetch’, and ‘drop it’. These are all part of the concept of teaching your dog to carry things.

Teaching your dog to carry things can be a great parlor trick, especially if you teach him the name of things like a TV remote, slippers, ball, toy, and so on. But at the same time, it can come in handy when you need a helping paw to carry something like the frisbee you are going out to play with or that ice cold beer in the fridge.

Getting Started

It doesn't take much to get started training your dog to carry things. You will, however, need the following:

  • A bag of your dog's favorite treats for use as rewards.
  • A range of items for your dog to carry.
  • A quiet place to use during training.
  • A ton of patience while your pup figures out what is expected of him.

The biggest thing you need is patience. Remember, your dog is just as interested in learning as you are in teaching. But at the same time, you must be prepared to shower him with praise and an ample supply of treats to let him know he is doing a good job. In time, your dog will carry anything you ask him to without the need for a treat, but you should always be ready to praise him for doing a good job.

The Fetch Method

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Step
1
Pick it up
Place an item on the ground in front of your dog and encourage him to ‘pick it up’. When he does, give him a treat.
Step
2
Repeat
Do this until he picks the item up every time, rewarding him each time he does.
Step
3
Delivery
Move several feet away from him and encourage him to bring the item to you. Use treats and praise to say "good job."
Step
4
Give
Now have him pick the item up and walk with you to a predetermined spot and have him ‘give’ you the item. Reward with treats and praise.
Step
5
Take it outside
Finally, have him pick the item up and carry it around as you go for a walk, go out in the yard to play, or when you have company and want to show his skills off. Remember to give him lots of praise and his favorite treats.
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The Lure Method

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Step
1
Get familiar
Have your dog sit in front of you and allow him to smell the training object. A piece of dowel or PVC pipe works great.
Step
2
Take it
Add a thin layer of peanut butter to the item and hold it in front of him again. When he opens his mouth to take it, say "take it" and when he does, praise him and give him a treat.
Step
3
Practice
Repeat this process until your pup will reach out and take the item when you say, "take it."
Step
4
Carry
Once he has mastered this, start moving away from him and having him "carry" the object to you.
Step
5
Add distance
Finally train your dog to carry the item on walks, when he goes outside, or from room to room each time you give the ‘carry’ command.
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The Playing Favorites Method

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Step
1
Pick a favorite
Start with an item your dog loves to carry around on his own terms and a pocket full of treats.
Step
2
Take it
Hold the item where your dog can easily see it in front of him and encourage him to ‘take it’. When he does, be sure to reward and praise him.
Step
3
From the ground
Next, lay the item on the ground and repeat the command, rewarding him when he does.
Step
4
Reduce treats
Spread out the rewards so that you are only giving him a treat every so many times--you can still verbally praise him.
Step
5
Carry
Now start moving back and using a ‘carry’ command to get him to pick the item up and carry it to you. Use lots of praise and treats and before long your dog will carry virtually anything you ask him to and take wherever you want it to go.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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