DOG TRICK: Getting the newspaper (or mail)

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By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger

You probably seen a dog in the movies fetching their owner’s slippers or getting the newspaper and thought, “when I own a dog, I’m going to teach them that.”  This type of trick is called a sequence since there are several steps to it.  The trick is breaking down the steps.  By doing so, your dog will learn how to retrieve whatever it is you want.  And neither of you will be frustrated in the process.

How can you actually do this?

For this trick, your dog needs to go to where the paper (or mail) is kept; pick up the item; bring it to you; and release it into your hand.

  1. Teach your dog to TAKE using treats (you can also teach the LEAVE IT command to balance this ). Say TAKE each time you give your dog a treat or put down their dog food, etc.
  2. Start to transfer other items such as paper or junk mail for the treats. Say TAKE and put the item in your dog’s mouth.  Gently close their mouth around the item and say HOLD.  Remove your hand and say DROP or THANK YOU for the dog to release the item.  Reward your dog with a treat.  Teach your dog to take nonessential letters and junk mail without stopping to shred them before you move on to the real thing.
  3. Next offer the item you want your dog to carry and say TAKE. When the dog takes the item without you putting it in their mouth and holds it, give a treat.
  4. Put the item in your dog’s mouth and take a step or two away and have your dog bring it to you. Praise as she comes to you and give a treat when she drops it or you take it from her mouth.
  5. Put the item on the floor and tell your dog to TAKE. You may want to use junk mail for this part until your dog refines her techniques in picking up something so close to the floor.
  6. When your dog is retrieving with finesse, begin to work her with the real mail or newspaper. Label this behavior MAIL or PAPER by saying this new cue right before the current cue TAKE; pretty soon your dog will be fetching with enthusiasm and finesse and may even be bringing you your neighbor’s newspaper!

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