Training your dog to pick up laundry gives your dog a job that they can do to help with household chores. Not only will it save you time and effort, it will give him a sense of accomplishment and a fun job that provides mental and physical stimulation.
This can be especially beneficial for herding and working dog breeds who can become neurotic if they do not have a sense of purpose. However, any breed of dog can learn this valuable trick given enough time and patience.
Another benefit of this trick is to curb unwanted behaviors such as chewing or stashing socks, a habit many dogs pick up as puppies. Giving him an appropriate alternative behavior that is rewarded will eventually extinguish the unwanted old behavior.
Doing laundry is a bit of an advanced trick because it has multiple steps and requires the use of several training techniques. The good news is that if you choose to tackle this training work, you and your dog will pick up valuable skills that will translate to teaching many other tricks.
Before you get started, think about what method will be most convenient for you. Do you want her to put the clothes in a basket, the laundry room, or sort it into piles? We have provided three different guides so you can train any of these options.
Expect to take several training sessions to train this complex behavior. The more experienced you and your canine are at training together, the faster the process will go. Remember to keep training sessions short enough that she stays engaged and excited. Ignore unwanted behavior when training, focusing instead on rewarding behavior that is getting closer to your ultimate goals.
Here are a few pointers to make the most of your training sessions:
Treats: If you have a very food motivated dog, you can often get away with using their regular portion of kibble, mixed with a few special tasty treats such as tiny pieces of hot dog, cheese or chicken. A higher ratio of the special treats is recommended during the early stages of teaching a new behavior to keep your dog highly motivated.
Clicker: The methods we are using assume you have a clicker for training. However, if you do not, then just use a word that is only used for training and always gets a reward. An example would be “Yes!” said in a tone specific to training contexts.
Fading food rewards: When training new behavior, you will want a high reward rate to encourage your dog to confidently try to give you the behavior you are looking for. Once you have the trick where you want it, you can start to choose only the best examples of the behavior to reward, and start substituting non-food rewards, such as praise.