Have you ever tripped over one of your dog’s toys? Does playtime leave your living room looking like a warzone? Well, if you never took the time to teach your furry pal how to pick up after himself, you can’t blame your disorderly digs on the dog.
Luckily, we have you covered with a few tips that will turn your messy mutt into a well-mannered canine. With a little patience and a lot of practice, you can have a dog who will do his part to keep your house spic and span all year round.
Pick Up Your Toys Command
Skill Level: Moderate to Advanced
Time: 10-30 minutes
Clicker (if desired)
Toy box or basket
To teach the Pick Up Your Toys command, find an open space in your home where you and your dog can move freely. Have a large number of small treats in a treat belt—keeping the rewards at quick access will ensure the best reward timing. Be sure to have several (less interesting) toys in a toy box or basket. (As your dog works up to mastery of the skills, you can begin using his favorite toys for the trick to test his concentration level.)
1. Give your dog the Sit-Stay command near the area in which you will be working.
2. Place a toy on the floor near the toy box and stand with the toy box between your feet.
3. Have a treat ready in one hand.
4. Give the Fetch command (pointing with your non-reward hand toward the toy). (If using a clicker, you can click as your dog completes each Fetch.)
5. As your dog brings you the toy in his mouth, hold your treat hand just above the toy box and say the Drop It command.
6. If the dog drops the toy into the box, give him the treat and lavish him with praise.
7. Repeat steps 1 through 6 several times until your dog seamlessly masters the entire process. You can begin using “Put It Away” in place of “Drop It” as he drops toys into the box.
8. Reward immediately and consistently after each success when working toward mastery.
9. As your dog masters all the steps (about ten times without mistakes), you can begin fading the Fetch command with “Pick It Up” (or “Pick Up Your Toys”).
10. Try adding a toy or two at a time once he reaches mastery level, and require several toys to be put away before rewarding.
If your dog plays with the toys instead of following commands, use less inviting toys until he has built up enough focus to master the skill. The most appealing reward during training should be the treat in your hand and the verbal praise for a job well done. Adding more “fun” toys later (after initial skill mastery) will test your dog’s obedience and focus.
If your dog makes a mistake, do not treat him harshly or punish him. Simply say “Whoops!” and start again. Remember, keeping learning fun will keep your dog excited about obedience training.
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