Jump to section
Imagine being sick at home on a chilly winter day. You are spending the day resting, curled up in a blanket, taking naps on the couch. You decide that you really need to go to the bathroom, but you dread getting up and walking across the cold floor. You tell your pup 'Shoe' and point to your slippers on the far end of the room. He happily jumps up and retrieves them for you. You smile at him and give him an affectionate pet before slipping your feet into the cozy slippers and making your way across the cold floor.
Whether you don't feel like getting off the couch or you just can't seem to find that left shoe, being able to tell your pup to fetch your shoes is wonderful and convenient. This simple task can give your pup something fun and productive to do and it might even be essential if you struggle to bend over or to get around due to injury or sickness.
Teaching your puppy to fetch your shoes is similar to teaching him how to retrieve in general, but it requires also teaching him how to recognize and differentiate between shoes and other objects. If your puppy already knows how to fetch on command, then this trick may take even less time for you to teach. In general, you can expect this trick to take between one and three months to train with consistent practice.
The main goal with this trick is to make your shoes something very exciting for your puppy. Try to be patient and positive while you teach this. This trick should be fun for your pup, and he will need your help to learn the various steps involved in bringing you a shoe. If he does not catch onto something right away, then give him hints and practice that step for longer until he is ready for the next part. Be sure to enjoy the training process with him, as well as the your final training goal.
To get started. you will need lots of small, easy-to-eat, tasty treats, at least one pair of lightweight shoes, and a calm location in your home. If you are using the 'Reel In' method, then you will also need a twenty foot leash. If you are using the 'Toss' method, then you will also need a variety of shoes and several non-shoe items. If you are using the 'Clicker Training' method, then you will need a clicker. With all of the methods you will need patience, a positive attitude, gentleness, and the willingness to have fun while training.
The Reel In Method
To begin, you will need a pair of lightweight shoes, a twenty foot leash, a calm and quiet location, and lots of easy-to-eat tasty treats. Have these items on hand whenever you work on this command.
Attach the long leash to your puppy and show him a shoe, getting him very excited about the shoe by wiggling it around him. When he is excited, toss the shoe a few feet away, excitedly tell him 'Shoe', and point to the shoe until he picks it up.
When your puppy picks the shoe up, then tell him to 'Fetch', and gently reel him in with the long leash. If he drops the shoe, then go over to it and kick it around until he picks it up again. When he picks it up again, then finish reeling him.
When your puppy is in front of you with the shoe, praise him and trade the shoe for a treat. Continue tossing the shoe for him until he will eagerly go straight to the shoe and bring it back to you when you tell him 'Shoe' and then 'Fetch'.
Place the shoe
When your puppy can retrieve the shoe for you after you have thrown it, show him how to find it when it is not moving. Attach your puppy's leash to something secure, walk several feet away and place the shoe on the floor. Go back over to your puppy and tell him 'Shoe' while unclipping the leash. As soon as he picks up the shoe, tell him 'Fetch' and reward him when he brings the shoe back to you.
Remove the visuals
When your puppy can bring you the shoe, place the shoe on the floor while your puppy is out of the room. Bring him back into the room, tell him 'Shoe', and point in the direction of the shoe. Give him a couple of minutes to find the shoe on his own, and if he cannot find it, then help him by going over to the shoe and telling him to 'Fetch'.
When your buddy can locate the shoe in the room and bring it to you, gradually send him to get the shoe from further and further away until you can send him to find a shoe from another room. If he cannot find a shoe after a three or four minutes of searching, help him find the shoe so that he will not become discouraged. Practice this until he masters finding shoes and bringing them to you.
The Toss Method
To begin, you will need a calm location in your home, a variety of shoes, several other non-shoe items, lots of small, easy-to-eat treats, and possibly a twenty foot leash.
Take your puppy to the calm location in your home and show him a shoe. Get him excited about the shoe by wiggling the shoe in front of him. When he is excited about it, then say 'Shoe'. When he tries to bite the shoe or hold it in his mouth, praise him and give him a treat. Practice this at least thirty times.
After you have rewarded your pup for placing his mouth on the shoe at least thirty times, then show him a different shoe and repeat this with that shoe. After you have done this with the second shoe, then repeat this with three other shoes, one at a time.
Add non-shoe items
When your puppy has practiced putting various shoes into his mouth, hold a shoe in one hand and a non-shoe item in the other. Show him both items and tell him 'Shoe', but only reward him when he goes to the shoe. When he has mastered picking the shoe out of those items, then repeat this exercise with a different non-shoe item and a different shoe.
Throw the shoe
When your puppy can differentiate between shoes and non-shoe items, teach him to 'Fetch' them by showing him the shoe and then tossing the shoe a foot away from you while you say 'Shoe'. As soon as he picks up the shoe, praise him and encourage him to come over to you with it. When he comes over to you, trade him the shoe for a treat.
When your buddy is reliably bringing you the shoe when you tell him to, begin to throw the shoe further and further away as he improves. When he can bring it to you from there, place the shoe on the floor, call your pup into the room without showing him the shoe, and then give the 'Shoe' command while pointing to it. Reward him if he brings it to you.
Add other items
When your pup can find the shoe in the room, place the shoe in a pile of other non-shoe objects and practice having him bring you the shoe from there. When he has mastered that, begin to send him to get a shoe from even further away. Gradually work up to sending him to get a shoe from another room and to sending him back for a second shoe afterwards.
The Clicker Training Method
To begin, grab several different types of shoes, easy-to-eat, small, tasty treats, and a clicker. Next, go to a calm location inside your home with your furry buddy.
Tempt with the shoe
Show your puppy a shoe and encourage him to bite it by wiggling it around and telling him 'Shoe'. As soon as he places his mouth on it, click and give him a treat. Practice this until he will immediately bite the shoe when you tell him 'Shoe' and show him the shoe, even when the shoe is still.
Drop the shoe
When your buddy will place his mouth on the shoe, drop the shoe onto the floor, point to it, and tell him 'Shoe'. Click and reward him when he picks it up. Repeat this until he will consistently pick it up when you drop it and give him the command.
Throw the shoe
When your puppy will pick up the shoe, toss the shoe while you tell him 'Shoe'. Click and give him a treat when he picks it up and brings it to you. If he drops it on the way back to you, then go over to the shoe and wiggle it around until he picks it up again. Quickly walk backwards to where you threw the shoe from and encourage him to bring it to you. Click and reward him when he arrives.
Make the shoe still
When your puppy can bring the shoe to you, have your puppy leave the room, place the shoe three feet away, and then let him back in the room. When he arrives, point to the shoe on the floor and tell him 'Shoe'. When he picks it up, encourage him to bring it to you, and click and reward him when he does. Practice this until he will immediately bring the shoe that you point at to you when you tell him 'Shoe'.
Continue to practice this command, but gradually increase how far away the shoe is as Fido improves at finding it. Repeat this until you can send him into another room by pointing to the room and telling him 'Shoe'. Continue to click and reward him for finding shoes from further and further away.
By Caitlin Crittenden
Published: 05/24/2018, edited: 01/08/2021