Train Your Dog to Pick Up His Toys
By Cara Lederman, ABCDT
Teaching your dog to put his toys away is a fun training exercise that mentally stimulates your dog, strengthens your bond with him and helps you keep the house clean.
Before you can begin this exercise, your dog must know the “take it” and “drop it” training cues. Luckily, your dog can quickly master these cues.
How to Train Your Dog
“Take It” Command
For “take it,” hold your dog’s favorite toy in your hand and move it around to excite him. Just before your dog grabs the toy out of your hand say “take it.” When he does, mark that behavior with a “good,” “yes” or click. Make sure to lavishly praise and pet your dog.
“Drop It” Command
To teach your dog “drop it,” he must be holding onto a toy. Have a treat your dog really likes in your hand and present it to the dog. Say “drop it” and, when he does, mark it and give him the treat. Your dog may be hesitant to drop his favorite toy, but if your treat is more enticing, such as a piece of chicken, he will gladly let go of the toy in exchange for the tasty treat.
Once your dog successfully takes the toy and drops it nine out of 10 times during practice, you can begin the next exercise.
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Put it in the Basket Lesson
Get a basket that you’ll want your dog to put his toys in and select a few of your dog’s favorite toys. For consistency, keep the basket in the same spot of the house—this will make it easier for your dog. Place the toys right next to the basket and sit beside the basket. Touch a toy and say “take it.” Then, hold a treat in your hand and lure the dog over to the basket. When the toy is over the basket, give the “drop it” command. Remember to generously reward your dog when he drops the toy in the basket. Practice this consistently and then proceed to the next step by moving the toys away from the basket by a foot or two.
After your dog succeeds with this at least nine out of 10 times, you can begin to only reward him with a treat after he has put two or three toys in the basket. Start by saying “clean up” or “toys away” to sequence the behaviors. Eventually you will no longer have to give verbal commands.
Consistency is Key
This is an exercise that requires a lot of practice and patience, but is a lot of fun and an impressive trick to show off to your friends. If you’re having trouble with this exercise, please contact your local dog trainer for help.
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