Most dog owners have more dog toys than they know what to do with. Wouldn’t it be great if you could teach the dog to pick up their own toys? Keep reading for tips on how to do this!
Teaching your dog to clean up after itself is not only good for you, giving one less thing to do each day. But it’s also good for the dog, teaching it another trick for its arsenal and another way to expend his mental energy.
Your dog needs to know how to fetch before you can work on this trick, so if you need to, teach him that first. Now – onto the cleaning!
Step 1 – The Toy Box
Or whatever you’re using as a toy receptacle. Since your dog is used to fetching items to you, start with the box near you. Toss the toy, and as your dog gets close to you, point to the box without using any verbal clues. If your dog catches on and drops the toy into the box, reward him right away.
If your dog doesn’t drop the toy into the box, that’s ok. Don’t correct him or punish him, just get the toy and re-throw it, starting the process again. Keep trying until your dog figures it out.
Step 2 – Confirming
Once your dog has started putting the toys into the box regularly, move the box away and try it again. Don’t start off putting it on the other side of the room, just a few inches away will do in the beginning.
Once your dog shows that he will still consistently put the toys into the box, move it a little further away. Keep doing this until it’s clear that your dog realizes the fetched toys are supposed to go into the box.
If your dog is having trouble with this, that’s ok. Just move the box back toward you and start over.
Step 3 – Move on to Stationary Toys
Once your dog clearly understands that the toys go into the box, stop throwing them. Just place them on the floor near the box and wait for your dog to pick it up and place it in the box.
When your dog successfully places the toy into the box, reward him. If he doesn’t, if it seems like he doesn’t understand, that’s ok. Just throw the toy a little bit. Your dog should restart picking up the toys after you toss them. Then put them back on the floor near the box until your dog starts to pick them up. Your dog will figure it out eventually; just be patient with him.
Step 4 – Add in a Verbal Cue
Now that your dog knows how to pick up his toys and put them into the box, choose the verbal cue you want to use to trigger your dog to pick up his toys. Whether that’s “clean up” or “pick up toys” or anything else you choose, make sure everyone in your house uses the same cue in order to be consistent.
Step 5 – Use More Toys
Now that your dog has associated the cue with the action of placing his toys in the basket, start combining the two. Place one of his toys on the floor and give the cue. When your dog puts the toy in the basket, reward him.
Once he’s doing that consistently, add a second toy. This time, don’t reward your dog until both of the toys are in the basket. Continue this process, adding more toys, until your dog realizes that in order to get rewarded, he has to pick up all of his toys. He’ll get there eventually.
Remember, this is supposed to be a fun party trick, not a punishment. Make sure your dog’s having fun, and you are, too. If it starts to stress either one of you out, stop and start the process another day. It’s not an easy thing to learn, but with patience you and your dog will both get there.
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