How to Train Your Dog to Find Your Keys

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Chores

Introduction

If you own anything that requires keys, you have probably misplaced them more than a few times. Moreover, you may even know they often show up in logical places within your home most times they are lost. If you can train your dog to find your keys, he can be in your lost keys search party. On the other hand, if you would like your dog to become involved in some fun tricks, you can have your dog bring you keys when he is ready to go for a ride. Imagine the excitement your dog will show when he can get your keys for you before he gets to get in the car. And for those days when you have misplaced them while in a rush the day before, your pup can help you find them again. He will enjoy helping you out, and of course, he will enjoy the reward that comes after.

Defining Tasks

Teaching your dog to find your keys can be as simple as beginning with a ‘fetch’ command and building from there to ‘search’ and ‘find’. You will need to teach your dog the object first and then challenge him to find it in various situations. Your pup should know basic commands first. Begin these methods with a playful approach and let your dog’s enthusiasm guide your training. You can teach a puppy or an older dog to find your keys, and it should not take too much time. Just be sure to schedule small, repetitive training sessions. 

Getting Started

Make sure to have treats to reward good behavior and show your dog what a good boy he is. A cloth keychain or lanyard might help train your dog to carry your keys more easily. Use the keys you use every day, so he understands the object. Be patient and have fun with your dog while training him to find your keys. This training could be useful, after all!

You will need:

  • Keys you don’t mind your dog mouthing.
  • Treats for rewards.
  • Time for play and training in short sessions.
  • A small towel to use to hide your keys.
  • Patience.

The Retrieve Method

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Step
1
Interest
Introduce your keys to your dog as if they were a toy. Let him sniff and lick to explore the keys.
Step
2
Have fun
Play with your keys and your dog by sliding them along the floor. Let your dog sniff them and chase them.
Step
3
Toss
Toss them a few feet away and use a command word or phrase such as, ‘find my keys.’ Encourage your dog to get your keys. If he finds them but doesn’t bring them to you, still give him a treat-- he still found them.
Step
4
Fetch
Continue this fetch process, expanding the distance you move the keys until you can eventually hide them in an easy to find spot.
Step
5
Hide
Once you can hide them, let your dog see where you hid them and ask him to find your keys.
Step
6
Reward
Reward your pup when he finds them in the easy to find hiding spot.
Step
7
Challenge
Continue placing your keys in different areas, on tables, on your couch, hidden underneath mail or clothing, etc. and ask your dog to find them.
Step
8
Repeat
Continue using this method and the ‘find my keys’ command, challenging your dog each time.
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The Start Easy Method

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Step
1
Sit
Put your dog in a sit position.
Step
2
'Keys' command
Hold your keys in front of his face and say the word ‘keys.’
Step
3
Hide
Hide the keys under a hand towel in front of your dog and repeat the command ‘keys.’
Step
4
Reward
Reward your dog if he sniffs at the towel or tries to move the towel when you use the command.
Step
5
Repeat
Repeat these steps several times over the course of several days, except move the keys to a different location, making them harder to find.
Step
6
Challenge
When you know where your keys are, ask your dog to find them each day. Be sure to place them in different spots, keeping him challenged.
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The Reward First Method

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Step
1
Choices
Offer your dog an option of three rewards. Do this three times, watching which he chooses each time and taking away the second and third choices each time.
Step
2
Yes
As he chooses his reward, say the word ‘yes’ to emphasize the reward.
Step
3
Keys
Place your keys near your dog.
Step
4
Interaction
If he sniffs or interacts with the keys, say ‘yes,’ and reward him.
Step
5
Hot and cold game
Repeat this step using a hotter/colder approach and reward him when he’s hot. If he does not show interest in the keys, do not reward him. When he does, reward him.
Step
6
Command
Add verbal cue such as ‘find my keys,’ and lay the keys near him.
Step
7
Reward
Reward him as he interacts with the keys.
Step
8
Repeat
Repeat moving the keys farther away each time until you can place them where the dog cannot see them.
Step
9
Out of sight
Allow your dog to watch you place them out of sight and ask the dog to find them.
Step
10
Practice
Do this several times for a few weeks. Be sure to do it at different times of day from morning when you wake to evening, asking your dog to find your keys. Place your keys in different locations each day. Reward each time he is successful.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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