Tip of the Month

2/25/2013 How to Teach Your Dog to Put Away Their Toys

Teach Your Dog To Put Toys Away

Train your dog to put his toys away

This is a fun training exercise that mentally stimulates the 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 easily and quickly master these cues.

Teaching Your Dog The "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!” or “YES!” or a click. Make sure to lavishly praise and pet your dog.

Teaching Your Dog The "Drop It" Command

To teach your dog “Drop It," he must be holding on to 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 9 out of 10 times during practice, you can begin the next exercise.

Put It In The Basket Lesson

Get a basket that you’ll want your dog to put his toys into 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 9 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 the Take It or Drop It 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 are having trouble with this exercise, please contact your local dog trainer for help.

By Cara Lederman, ABCDT

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