Darn, picked up something heavy the wrong way and put your back out again! Can't bend over to get your socks or keys (or anything else for that matter) off the floor? What if your dog could do it for you? Having your dog able to pick items up off the floor and bring them to you could be a game that's fun for your dog, or it could come in really handy and be super useful if you can't bend over! Some dogs even learn to identify and pick up items by name.
A Border Collie named Chaser is able to identify over 1,000 items by name and fetch them--now that's a smart and useful dog! While you may not need your dog to pick up 1,000 items, teaching him to pick up dropped keys, a wallet, or clothing items is not that difficult, gives your dog a job to do, which is good for his mental stimulation, and builds your relationship with your dog by working as a team. Plus, involving dogs in daily tasks is good for their emotional development.
Teaching your dog to pick up items you have dropped is not that hard for dogs that mouth naturally. It can be a little more challenging for dogs that don't, but there are ways to encourage and train mouthing behavior, and even a non-mouthy dog can be taught to pick up dropped items. Dogs can be taught at a relatively young age to pick up items off the floor with their mouths and bring them to you. If you teach a young dog, they should have developed good permanent teeth so that baby teeth are not ripped out or damaged. Remember that teaching the dog to let go of an item is just as important as teaching him to pick up the dropped item. Otherwise, his picking up behavior will not be that useful to you. You can even add names and verbal commands to common household items you want your dog to pick up off the floor, such as keys or socks, or teach a command to “pick up” whatever you point at. The dog should pick up the item, bring it to you, and then release it to you when asked to “give it”. You can make a game of this while training so that your dog finds it fun.
Start by using an item that your dog can easily pick up, like an empty toilet paper roll, a toy, or a small article of clothing. For dogs that are not “mouthy” you may need to teach them mouthing behavior with a narrow chew toy such as a small soft chew or rawhide stick, and transfer the mouthing behavior to a chopstick and then larger items. You will need lots of high value treats to reward the behavior you are developing and a clicker to capture the behavior is very useful. Teach your dog the 'give it' or 'drop it' command with a toy that they carry in their mouth prior to teaching your dog to pick up dropped items to make the behavior easier to develop.
I am trying to train Quinn to pick up items. and eventually put them in a basket. He will pick items up. but then he gets so excited at the prospect of a treat that he intently throws the item in the air (cute but not what I am looking for). I am looking for tips on the holding of the item.
Hello, I can picture that and I bet it is cute! The Chase Method and the Squeaky Toy Method may work for you, in particular, the Chase Method encourages bringing things back. https://wagwalking.com/training/bring-you-something. Because Quinn is treat oriented, the Take it and Drop it Method may be good here: https://wagwalking.com/training/clean-up-his-toys-1. The Reel In Method here may help: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-puppy-to-fetch-shoes. Have fun!
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I would like the dog to retrieve my cane when needed. She knows the cane and will touch but not bring it to me
Hello Michael, I suggest teaching a few individual commands, then adding the commands together one by one. Start out by teaching each individual command and rewarding the steps to learn that specific command. Once pup can do the commands each individually, give pup two commands together and reward after pup has performed both commands. When pup can do that, give three commands in a row, then reward at the end of three commands in a row, ect...Until you are only rewarding the full action of going to the cane, picking it up, holding it in their mouth, bringing it to you, and dropping it into your hand. Fetch - your dog already knows this one as going to the Cane and touching it, so cue that first. Take It - "Teaching Take It" section: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-to-fetch/ Hold: https://wagwalking.com/training/hold-an-object Come - "Teaching Come" section: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-to-fetch/ Drop It - "Teaching Drop It" section: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-to-fetch/ If pup is struggling to learn the commands above with the cane, I suggest using something similar to the cane but smaller and lighter at first to practice, like a stick, then transition each trick and series of tricks to the cane once pup is doing pretty well with just the stick. Keep working on pup going to the cane and touching it and rewarding that so they remember that item's name though, while using the stick for other commands. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Penny is new to us but an older dog, and didn't fetch or chase, and wouldn't pick anything up with her mouth. With the help of the clicker and the "teach mouthing" steps above we graduated from picking up a rawhide to a hard plastic straw, to a toilet paper tube to a Nylabone, in one training session. I even got her to chase the Nylabone and bring it back to me at the end! I really didn't think we'd ever get the poor pup to play with toys, thank you so much for the thorough instructions!
Hello Sarah, I am so happy to hear that you are making such great progress! Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog is currently training as a service dog and has to pass a public access test to become one. we are having trouble with one main part of the test though. he has to wait in the car until i let him out then let me put his harness on. How can i get him to where he waits in the car and lets me put his harness on without ducking me?
Hello Jordan, I would start by practicing at doorways at home first, teaching the Wait command. Attach a thirty foot leash to a padded back clip harness that he can't slip out of. Attach the other end of the leash to something sturdy like a stairway banister (the leash is a safety measure). With the leash slack and only there "just in case", act like you are going out the door. Start to open the door and whenever pup tries to go toward it quickly close it while saying "Wait". Your goal isn't to hit him but he may get a slight bump if he is especially pushy. Practice opening and closing the door until you can open it and he will wait until it is open further. When he is waiting a bit, then get between him and the door and play goalie with the opening. Opening the door wide enough for you to get through, then whenever pup tries to get through firmly but calmly take several steps toward him to make him back up. By doing this you are communicating that you own that space and asking for his respect. Don't worry about bumping into him a bit if he won't move out of the way - your attitude needs to mean business without being angry at all. Once you can open the door and he will stay back and not try to rush through, then you can click and toss a treat. You will gradually practice opening the door more and more and blocking him from getting through and walking toward him to make him back up and wait. Take steps toward him until he is at least two feet from the door AND two feet away from you - those two distances often equal him giving you respect (and not simply waiting to get past you when you move), and waiting at the door (instead of trying to bolt). It will feel a lot like you are a soccer goalie, having to be quick and focused. When you can open the door completely and he will wait, take a step through the doorway. If he tries to follow, rush toward him, making him backup again quickly. This serves as a natural consequence and encourages him to stay back. If he waits patiently, then click and toss a treat as his paws. Practice at that distance until he will stay back. As he improves, take more and more steps, moving outside, onto your porch and into your yard eventually. Be ready to quickly rush toward him as soon as you see him start to move, to keep him from getting outside (this is why you back the long leash on him, just in case he gets past you, but for training purposes the goal is to keep him from getting out so he isn't rewarded for bolting). When he will stay inside while you stand in the yard, then recruit others to be distractions outside. Expect to stay a bit closer to him when you first add a hard distraction - like another dog walking past, a walker, kids playing in the yard, balls being tossed. Imagine what types of things he may one day see outside and choose distractions that are at least that difficult to practice this around. Once pup has learned wait well at other doors, when in the car, tie the other end of pup's leash to something secure in the car, with enough slack that he doesn't feel it unless he approaches the car door, but not so slack pup could get past the door opening - this is important - you don't want pup to be able to jump partly out of the car then get caught midair - too loose and that could happen, you just want something to keep pup from being able to take off if he tried to get past you. With the leash secure, tell pup Wait as soon as you open the door to get him, while your body is still blocking him. Practice taking a step away from pup whenever he is waiting patiently and not looking like he is about to try to jump out, reward if pup stays put when you take a step back, and quickly move toward him blocking his exit if he tried to move toward the door (remember the leash is tied so he can't succeed also). Practice this, adding steps as pup improves, until pup will effectively wait inside the car with the door wide open, even while you are a few feet away and not in the doorway, and there are distractions around, like at the park. Once pup is waiting well for you, then practice putting pup's harness on while he waits also. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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