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Teaching your dog to carry a note to another person is a pretty cool trick! Not only will it be fun for the two of you, but you can use this trick to amaze and amuse your friends. While this is mostly considered to be a fun trick, it may also come in handy in case of an emergency. Imagine falling down and not being able to move, but you can write a note and have your dog carry it to a neighbor. The neighbor could then dial 911 and get the help you need.
In some ways, training your dog to carry a note is a little like training him to play fetch in reverse. But, at the same time, you do not want the recipient to have to call for your pup. One neat little thing about this trick is that it is the perfect way to teach your pup to recognize people by name. From here, it won't be that hard to teach him the names of any number of people and items.
The goal is simple, by the end of the training, you should be able to tuck a note under your pup's collar or have him take it in his mouth and have him take it directly to the person you tell him to. While the task itself is relatively simple, the process itself is a combined effort. Your pup will be learning to recognize people by name and at the same time learning to carry a note to them.
You may not know it., but most dogs are able to recognize 165 words. While some may learn more and others less, your dog has more than enough mental capacity to learn the names of family and friends and leave room for plenty more.
Before you can start training your pup to carry notes, he must first have mastered the four basic commands of 'sit', 'stay', 'come', and 'down'. This way, when you start working with him carrying notes he has already proven his ability to do as he is told. Beyond this, you won't need much else in the way of training supplies. However, you may need:
- Treats for training and as rewards
- A note for your dog to carry
- A helper from among friends or family
- A quiet place to work
The only other things you will need are plenty of patience and time to work with your pup while he learns the fun new trick!
The Know Their Name Method
Gather the family
For this one, you need to have as many members of your family on hand as possible. They will be an integral part of the process.
Attach the note
Slide the "note" under your pup's collar and let him get used to it being there.
Treats all round
Everyone needs to have a few of your pup's favorite treats in their pockets.
Send your pup off
Tell your pup to go find Sally and have Sally call his name. If he goes to her, have her take the note and give him a treat. If at first, he doesn't quite get it, keep working on it until he does.
Repeat with everyone
Repeat with every member of the family over and over until your pup will take his "note" directly to the right person every time, no matter who is telling him to do so. Before long he will have everyone's name memorized and you will be passing messages back and forth all over the house.
The Room Next Door Method
Grab your assistant
For this, you need two people and two separate rooms to work in. Start with you and your pup in one room and the other person just inside the door to the other room. This way your pup can see him but only when he shows himself.
Create your note
Let your pup see you "write" the note, then show it to him and tuck it in his collar.
Release your pup
Let go of your pup and tell him to "take it to Joey" and encourage him to go find "Joey". If he goes right to your assistant, heap tons of praise on him and give him a treat.
If he doesn't go
If your pup doesn't take the note to "Joey", have your helper stick his head out where he can be seen and call your pup's name. When your pup arrives, praise and treat. Practice until he masters this stage of the game.
Out of sight
The process is basically the same except your assistant is going to be completely out of sight and will not be calling his name. Practice until you can tell your pup to take the note to "Joey" anywhere in the house.
With the rest of the family
Once your pup has mastered working with "Joey", continue working with him and everyone in the family and any friends you want to have fun with. Your pup will love his new "job" and learning to do this is very good for him.
The Carry a Toy Method
A new toy
Go out and buy a new toy that your pup is going to find irresistible and grab some of his favorite smelly treats.
Introduce the toy
Introduce your pup to his new toy and give him time to become attached to it. Then start offering him a treat in exchange for the toy. Be patient, this might take a while; short practice sessions work best.
When he agrees
When your pup agrees to the swap, praise him and let him have the treat. Practice this until he will do the swap every time.
Introduce the "other" person
Time to bring in the "recipient" of the note and let your pup see him sit down on the other side of the room. Make sure your helper has plenty of those smelly treats.
Give your pup his toy
Give your pup his toy and tell him to take it to your helper. At the same time, have your helper hold out a treat. Your pup will be able to smell it and should follow the smell to its source. When he arrives, trade the treat for the toy. Repeat until your pup goes straight to the helper as soon as you tell him to.
Start having your helper move further away slowly, still using the same method. Once your pup can find your helper to deliver the toy anywhere he happens to be, start working on him being able to do so without a treat. Use verbal praise instead.
Repeat for everyone
Go through the same process with everyone in the family until you can have your pup take the toy to anyone. Finally, slide a paper note inside a hollow toy and have your pup use this as his "note carrier" and your pup will soon be your own version of the Pony Express.
By PB Getz
Published: 01/19/2018, edited: 01/08/2021