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After playing with your dog, does your house look like a war zone? Chew toys strewn about, bones laying in the middle of the floor, and tennis balls under the chair. Wouldn't it be nice to get some help picking up after your pup? With this helpful guide, you can teach your dog to pick up his toys and put them away as part of your play routine.
Teaching your dog to clean up his toys not only helps to keep the house tidy, it can also help you bond with your dog and stimulate his mind. The command will make him think, and he'll feel as though he's still playing while you are letting him do all the work. This trick will help you in more ways than one.
Learning to pick up toys and put them in a specific spot is an advanced training command. Make sure your dog already understands basic commands like 'sit' and 'stay', and be sure he's ready to learn. This trick requires consistency and patience, but it's one of the most beneficial chores he can learn. Learning to put his toys away stimulates his mind as he concentrates on the task. It also helps to work off excess energy as he runs around the room to collect his toys. Teaching your dog this trick can also improve his concentration and strengthen the bond between you.
Imagine how much more fun cleaning up will be when your pup excitedly bounds around the room to pick up toys and put them in the basket. When playtime is done and the last stuffed animal is back where it belongs, your buddy will also be tired and ready for a nap, having exhausted his brain and his muscles.
In order to train your dog to pick up his toys, you're going to need a few helpful supplies:
- A designated basket just for his toys. Make sure you use the same basket each time and don't use the basket for anything else.
- A bunch of toys your dog loves to play with. You don't need to buy new toys; his favorites will work just fine.
- Treats or a clicker for training rewards.
- Patience. This trick is multi-layered so make sure you progress through the steps when your dog is ready.
It's best to try this trick at the end of playtime or after your dog has had some exercise, otherwise he may be too distracted by his toys to pay attention. Each method has several steps to follow. Make sure your dog has mastered each step before moving on. If he's struggling it's ok to go back and repeat a step. Consistency and patience are key to success here.
The Take It and Drop It Method
Teach 'take it'
First, teach your dog the 'take it' command. Start by holding out his favorite toy. Just before he grabs it from your hand sat "take it." Then praise him with a "good" or "yes."
Teach 'drop it'
Once your dog has mastered 'take it', move on to 'drop it'. When your dog has his favorite toy in his mouth offer him a tempting treat. When he releases the toy say "drop it," then praise him and give him the treat. Once he's consistently dropping the toy on command, you can move to the next step.
Put it in the basket
Put the designated toy basket in one spot, and make sure to keep it in the same place until the trick is mastered. Lay a few of your dog's favorite toys next to the box. Next, point to a toy and say "take it." With a treat in your hand, guide his head over the basket and say "drop it." when he drops the toy in the basket give him the treat and praise him.
Move the toys farther from the basket
As your dog learns to consistently drop the toys in the basket, you can start to move them farther away. Slowly reduce the number of times you treat him and begin introducing the sequence of picking up the toys and dropping them off as "clean up." Soon he'll know just what to do when it's time to pick up the toys.
Make sure you repeat these tasks with your dog daily for two weeks to a month. Remember, it's ok to move back a step, even if he mastered it the day before.
The Tidy Up Method
Give the toy basket a home
Create a permanent place for your dog's toy basket to live while training. This spot is important to consider because it can't be moved while training continues.
Start with his favorite toy
Walk your dog over to the basket and give him his favorite toy.
Draw his attention inside the basket
Point or snap your fingers to bring his attention inside the basket. Make sure his head is over the basket before moving on.
Offer him a treat and say "tidy up" as he drops the toy into the basket to take the treat. Make sure to praise him and give him the treat when he drops the toy.
Repeat this process four or five times in a row, several times a day for two weeks to one month until he gets the hang of it.
Move father from the basket
When your dog gets the hang of dropping the toy into the basket when you say "tidy up," start to move farther from the basket. When you say the command, he should know to drop the toy in the basket. When he does, give him lots of praise. Keep moving farther back until he knows the command by heart.
The Cleaning Game Method
Mark the basket
First, you need to get your dog to notice the basket. Sit down next to it with his favorite toy. Toss the toy for him to chase, and when he brings it back, point to the basket. He may naturally drop the toy in the basket from curiosity, and when he does make sure to treat him. You can even put some treats in the basket to entice him to drop the toy inside. If he isn't putting the toy in the basket, put the basket between you and the dog and continue trowing the toy until he does begin to drop the toy into the basket. Treat him and give him praise when he does..
Move the basket
Once your dog is dropping the toy in the basket consistently after you throw it, you can move the basket a little farther away. If he stops putting the toy in the basket, just move it closer and keep working. If he still brings the toy back to the basket, you are ready to move on.
Leave toy on the floor
Once your dog knows that the toys go in the basket, trying placing the toy on the floor instead of tossing it. If your dog is ready, he should pick up the toy and place it in the basket to get a reward. If he's not ready, go back to step two.
Introduce your command
Now you're ready to name this trick. Pick something simple like "tidy up" or "clean up time." Place the toy on the floor. As he starts to pick it up and put it in the basket, say your command and then give him a treat.
Increase the toys
When your dog recognizes the command, it's time to add more of his favorite toys. Add them one at a time at first, giving the command and treating as each toy goes in the basket. You can begin to treat after several toys are picked up until he's consistently picking up all the toys.
By Katie Smith
Published: 01/04/2018, edited: 01/08/2021