Teaching your dog to clean up their toys not only straightens up your home but is an excellent mental exercise for your dog.
By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Cynologist
Like most dog owners, you probably spend several minutes every day picking up your dog’s toys and putting them away. Dogs are like kids – they get every toy they have and spread them around the house until they get bored and move on to something else. Teaching your dog to clean up their toys not only straightens up your home but is a good mental exercise for your dog.
Although this dog toy trick looks pretty fancy, it’s just an advanced form of fetch in many ways. Before you can begin this exercise, your dog must know the “take it” and “drop it” training cues as well as already be a fetcher to make it easy.
Once your dog successfully takes the toy and drops it nine out of 10 times during practice, you can begin the next exercise.
Teaching the trick
Get a basket that you’ll want your dog to put his toys in, and select a few of your dog’s favorite toys. Place the toys right next to the basket and sit beside the basket. For consistency, keep the basket in the same spot of the house—this will make it easier for your dog.
Touch a toy and say, “take it.” Then, hold a treat in your hand and lure the dog over to the basket. After your dog has picked up the toy and when the toy is over the basket, give the “drop it” command, encouraging and rewarding him for putting the toy in the toy box upon returning. After your dog succeeds with this at least nine out of 10 times, you can begin only to reward him with a treat after he has put two or three toys in the basket.
Once that behavior is consistent, do the same thing with other toys.
Move a short distance away from the toy box, and start by saying “clean up” or “toys away” to sequence the behaviors. Eventually, you will no longer have to give the verbal commands “take it” and “drop it.”
Scatter toys around the room, not too far from the toy box. Encourage your dog to “clean up” each item and return it to the basket. This may mean running to each toy with your dog and racing him back to the toy box to add excitement.
Scatter toys throughout the house, and ask your dog to “clean up.” Advanced dogs who’ve played “Find it!” games, where they hunt around for scents, stashed treats, or favorite toys, can eventually learn to search the entire house for toys and return them to the toy basket.
Consistency is Key
This exercise 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, don’t hesitate to contact Acme Canine for help.
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