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Imagine that you are hosting a party at your house. The music is blaring, a couple of people are dancing, and some people are lounging out on your back porch. Your puppy is loving all of the attention. Someone you know is sitting on the opposite side of the room and starts to talk to you. You can't hear what she is trying to say over the sound of the music and the people talking. Finally, you grab a notebook and write something down. You call your pup over to you, hand him the note, point to your friend, and tell him to 'Pass It' to her. Your friend grins widely when your pup delivers the note and then laughs out loud at your comment. The two of you end up passing notes back and forth sporadically throughout the evening. When the night is over, you settle into bed and affectionately rub your puppy's ears and tell him what a good boy he is. You had a fantastic time, and your note passing ended up being one of the most enjoyable parts of the entire evening thanks to your pup..
In general, you can expect this trick to take between one and three months to train. If your puppy already knows 'Take It' or 'Hold', then this trick should take even less time to teach. This trick is actually three smaller tricks combined into one action. It includes the 'Take It' command, the 'Hold' command, and the 'Pass It' command.
You will need several pieces of paper for this trick because the notes will get wet every time that they are in your puppy's mouth and they will need to be replaced when they get too soggy. You also do not want to encourage your puppy to eat paper, and giving her a soggy note can encourage her to eat paper.
Remember to reward your puppy and to celebrate whenever she masters one of the smaller parts of this trick. Each of these simple tricks can also be used later on to teach your puppy how to do other complex tricks or as stand alone tricks by themselves.
To get started, you will need lots of tasty treats, lots of paper, an assistant, and a calm location that is at least twenty feet wide or long. If you wish to teach your puppy to bring a note to more than one
specific person, then you will need additional people to practice this
with. If you are using the 'Reel In' method, then you will also need a twenty-foot leash or drag lead. With all of the methods, you will need clear communication, patience, and a happy attitude. Your assistant will also need clear communication, patience, and an inviting demeanor.
The Reel In Method
Get set up
To begin, recruit an assistant, grab lots of paper, and lots of tasty treats. Give treats to your assistant also. Attach a twenty-foot leash to your pup and go to a calm location.
Add 'Take It'
Fold a piece of paper into a square. Show it to your puppy, tell him to 'Take It', and then wiggle it around until he bites it. When he bites it, praise him, and trade him a treat for the piece of paper. Repeat this until he will bite the paper as soon as you say 'Take It', and will let go of the paper as soon as you offer him a treat.
When your pup will grab the paper, tell him to 'Take It', and when he takes it, tell him to 'Hold' it. Wait two seconds before you take the paper from him and give him a treat. Repeat this until he will consistently hold the paper for two seconds.
As your pup improves at holding the paper, gradually increase the amount of time that he must hold it for before you give him a treat. Add one second at a time and reward him for holding it for longer than he did before. Repeat this until he can hold the paper for up to thirty seconds.
Reel him in
Give your assistant the end of the leash and call your puppy over to you. Point to your assistant and tell your pup to 'Pass It', then have your assistant reel him in with the leash. When he gets to your assistant, have her praise him and give him a treat.
Repeat sending your pup to your assistant until he will immediately go to her when you point to her and tell him to 'Pass It' without her having to reel him in with the leash.
Add the note
When your pup will hold a note and go to your assistant, have your assistant sit five feet away from your puppy. Give him a note and tell him to 'Hold', then tell him to 'Pass It' and point to your assistant. If he brings the note to her, then have her praise him enthusiastically and give him several treats. If he spits the note out, then try it again but have your assistant come closer, so that she is only two feet away from him.
When your pup can bring your assistant the note at the current distance, then as he improves, have her gradually move away again until she is twenty feet away from your puppy. Do this by adding just one foot of distance between her and your puppy at a time.
When your puppy masters bringing a note to your assistant, then teach your puppy to bring a note to several other friends, one person at a time, or have your assistant teach your puppy to pass a note to you. Do this so that he will learn how to bring a note to whoever you point to in addition to your assistant.
The Treat Toss Method
To begin, recruit an assistant, grab lots of tasty treats and pieces of paper, give some of the treats to your assistant, and then go to a calm location together.
Teach 'Take It'
Fold a piece of paper into a square, call your puppy over to you, show her the paper, tell her to 'Take It', and then wiggle it around in front of her until she bites it. As soon as she puts her mouth on it, praise her, and trade her the paper for a treat. Repeat this until she will take the paper when you tell her to 'Take It' and will release it right away.
Teach 'Hold It'
Tell her to take the paper, and while the paper is in her mouth, tell her to 'Hold', and wait two seconds before you praise her and give her a treat. Practice this until she will consistently hold onto the paper for two seconds. When she can do that, gradually increase the amount of time that you have her hold the paper. Practice this until she can hold the paper for thirty seconds without dropping it.
When your pup can hold the paper, teach her to go to your assistant. Point to your assistant and tell her to 'Pass It', then have your assistant wave a treat back and forth where your pup can see it. When your pup gets to your assistant, have him praise her and give her the treat. Repeat this until she will consistently go to him.
Phase out the waving
When your pup will go to your assistant, then phase out the waving. First, have your assistant wave his hand without a treat in it when you send your pup to him. When she arrives, then have him give her a treat from behind his back. When she can do that consistently, have him lift up his hand but not wave it. Then when you send her to him, have him sit still until she arrives. Practice this until your pup will go to your assistant even if he is ignoring her.
Add the note
When your pup can go to your assistant and hold a note for thirty seconds, have your assistant move closer. Hand a note to your pup, point to your assistant and tell her to 'Pass It'. When your pup arrives, have your assistant praise her and trade her a treat for the note.
When your puppy can deliver the note from the current distance consistently without dropping it, then gradually add space between her and your assistant. Do this until there is twenty feet of space between them. Add space one foot at a time when your pup is doing well at the current distance.
Add more people
When your pooch can deliver the note to your assistant, then have your assistant teach your pup to deliver the note to you too, or recruit other friends to practice this with and teach her to deliver the note to one new person at a time.
The Name Method
Get set up
To begin, grab some paper and lots of small, tasty treats. Recruit an assistant who you would like to pass notes to and go to a calm and quiet location with your puppy.
Teach 'Take It'
Next, fold a piece of paper into a square, tell him to 'Take It', and tempt him to grab the piece of paper. When he bites it, praise him and trade him a treat for the piece of paper. Repeat this until he will grab the paper as soon as you say 'Take It' even when you do not tempt him with it.
When Fido will take the paper, tell him to 'Take It', and as soon as he does, tell him to 'Hold' and wait two seconds before you praise him. Take the paper and give him a treat. If he tries to spit the paper out too soon, then place your hand underneath his chin to encourage him to close his mouth.
Increase the hold
When your puppy can hold the note for two seconds, gradually increase the length of time that he must hold it for by adding one second at a time. Do this until he can hold the paper for thirty seconds without spitting it out.
Send your puppy
Teach him to go to your assistant. To do this, give your assistant lots of treats, get your puppy's attention, and then point to your assistant and tell your pup to 'Pass To (your assistant's name)'. Have your assistant get your puppy's attention by waving a treat and then let your puppy go to her. When he arrives, have your assistant praise him and give him the treat.
Have your assistant remove the treat from her hand and simply wave her hand when you send your puppy to her. When your puppy arrives have you assistant reward him with a treat from behind her back. When your puppy masters that, then have your assistant simply raise her hand when you send your puppy to her. Then have your assistant sit still while you send your puppy to her. Practice this until your puppy will reliably go to your assistant when you point and tell your puppy to 'Pass To (your assistant's name)'.
Combine the note with delivery
Have your assistant move closer, so that she is only three feet away from him. Give your pup a note to hold, then tell your pup to 'Pass To (your assistant's name)'. Practice this until he can do it reliably. When your pup can deliver the note, then have your assistant gradually backup again as your puppy improves. Do this until your assistant is twenty feet away and Fido will reliably deliver a note to her from that distance.
Add other people
If you wish to teach your puppy how to deliver a note to other specific people, then start this process over again with a new person. When you have taught Fido the names of two or more people, then practice this trick with both people in the room and only reward your puppy for delivering the note to the correct person. Practice that until your puppy can distinguish between different people by name.
By Caitlin Crittenden
Published: 06/06/2018, edited: 01/08/2021