Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dog Training: How to Train your Dog to Put their Own Toys Away

 People may find Miss M charming, but I think this reaches a whole new level when they actually find out she has been trained to put her own toys away on command. Back when I accidentally adopted my pit bull, I was so nervous about owning a pit bull I delved into research and training. I quickly learned she was like most bullies, food motivated and eager to please, and she became a star at training. I was a single-girl at the time, so I guess I did have a lot more time to devote to her training. Plus, what better retort is there if anyone ever questions owning a pit bull that she can put her own toys away--there are human children who don't even know how to do this!
You can click here and here to see the videos of Miss M putting her toys into the toy bin on command, and  these are the steps I used to teach her:

Step #1:  Retrieving
 I had to teach her to "go get the ball". Retrieving is easier for some dogs, as Miss M typically wanted to take the toy and run. Treats were a huge motivator for this step.

Step #2: Add "Drop It" to the Retrieving Command
After Miss M brought the ball to me, I taught her to drop it. I think some dogs automatically do this. Miss M learned to do this because she realized it was only by opening her mouth, and letting the toy drop, that she could actually eat the treat I gave her.

Step #3: Reinforce "Bring it to Me" and "Drop it" as a Single Command
Miss M learned any time she retrieved something she had to automatically drop it in front of me. When I said "Go Get the Ball and Bring it to Me" she would get the toy and automatically drop it in front of me. Though I would probably recommend a shorter command.

Step #4: Add the Box
 I had to make sure she had the command of getting the ball and dropping it very solid before we moved on to this step. I positioned a box under her, and each time the toy dropped inside the box, she got a treat. This one is like a puzzle, and it's easy for the dog to get frustrated, but Miss M was smart and picked up on it quickly. After she realized she got the treat for dropping the toy in the box, I moved further away from the box when I gave the command, so she would resist dropping it by my feet. We practiced a few minutes a day where I moved further from the box, and she was eventually able to start putting her toys away automatically. Mr. B is still in the learning stages and finds it hard to relinquish his stuffed toys:
This is how I trained Miss M, but I recently received an email from Tonya who just recently taught her adorable pittie Michael to put his toys away. Michael is a 1 1/2 year pittie who is highly treat-motivated. This is how she did it:  
So, when I saw your video of Miss M, I basically saw fetch. His toys were in the living room and the toy bins were in the hallway. So I threw a ball, asked him to "go get it," started walking out of the room hurriedly (he followed me out), and "drop it" in bin. Then I said "good put it away," when he finished and gave him a treat. We did variations of this (including pointing to toys and instructing him to "take it") in 10 minutes spurts over the course of a Saturday before he finally got it. 

We would love to hear from anyone who has been successful with this trick, and if you have videos, we would love you to post them on our Facebook page. And we would also like your ideas for any new tricks to teach Miss M...I'm kind of stuck.

20 comments:

Tucker The Crestie said...

Miss M. is just too adorable! I've seen the video, too - and I think she was born to be a star!

Two Crazy Coaches said...

Such a smart girl! Mr B is just a typical male who doesn't like to clean up after himself!

road-dog-tales said...

Our Mom & Dad are pretty quick learners too. Now, all we have to do is leave our toys lying around for them to step on and somehow they just know to "pick them and put them away." We don't even have to give them treats!
PeeS - We think Mom wants to try to teach US to do this. hahahahaha

The Road Dogs

iheartsnark said...

Hey Mr. B! I used to have the same hedgehog stuffie...mine ended up de-stuffed....I don't know how that happened (he he)

Yer pal,
Sketcher

Kate@TwentySixToLife said...

OMG those pictures crack me up. Especially the one of Mr. B. I'd love to teach my dogs this trick. For us the hard part will be teaching "drop it," but with our army of dogs we'd have the cleanest house around!

Corbin said...

Corbin always put his toys away... when he was done with one bone, he'd put it in the bin and get another one out... then Bethany came to us as a foster... and Bethany liked to take all of the toys and bones out of the bin and hoard them in the center of the living room in a huge pile... Corbin would try to put them away and she'd keep taking them out and back to her pile... Soon Corbin gave up, and even though Bethany is gone... he's been slacking on returning his toys before getting a new one... Usually he teaches our fosters good (and sometimes not so good) habits... but in this case, he definitely picked up a Bethany habit!
-Corbin's momma Jenn

Beth said...

Mr. B kills me!

Bobby said...

We think miss M is very smart even if she was treat motivated. I have tried all kinds of things with Pip
to put his toys away. So I do it while he grabs two out to every one i put away. (Hence Dippy Pip)
Licks Bobby

brooke said...

I love that picture of Mr B! Such a cute face!

goosie mama said...

I agree with Beth - Mr. B is too funny in that picture. Obviously, very reverent to the Talented Ms. M!

susan said...

Mr. B. kills me too! That picture is awesome. I taught Stella to "pick it up" "put it" "take it" "find it" and "drop it" first - and then added on the where as in: "pick it up, put it in the doghouse (crate). Sometimes if she's in the right mood..(translate: honey baked turkey) I can tell her to put all the toys in the dog house and she'll do it. I've run out of tricks myself, look forward to the new ideas :)

Trissi_V said...

The pic of Mr. B cracks me up! :-)

I wish you could teach my lil cat Saki to put away her toys, her catnip fish are all over the place.

houndstooth said...

I may try this with Morgan since it's too darned hot right now to even think about setting foot outside without turning to a crisp. Typical first week back to school! *grumble*

A trick that I've always found charming is when a person sneezes and the dog gets them a tissue. I've seen other people train their dogs on this one, and it's adorable! Another really cute one is "go to bed" when the dog goes to his or her bed, lays down, and then pulls a cover over him or herself!

Benny and Lily said...

momma wants to hire you
Benny & Lily

Kim Martin said...

You might consider getting Miss M to dust mop....my dog, Yukon, likes to slide on an upside-down frisbee (and crash into things). If I could just figure out how to attach a dust mop head, and still skim it across the floor, I'm sure he would skid it to the next level...or maybe tie dustmop heads to his feet....

tdotcopeland said...

Do you play any 'search and rescue' games with Miss M? I bet she would be quite good at it! I hide a treat in one hand behind my back and offer both closed fists to Michael and ask him to "use [his] nose" to guess which one the treat is in. He 'guesses' the correct one and 'chooses' the hand with his paw. We're going to start doing some more difficult games soon.

steave adson said...

Friend i am telling about dogs why they barked. Barking is a totally natural aspect of a dog's behavior, but you, your family and your neighbors will be happier if you can bring it under control. It's hardly surprising many people have barking problems with their dogs, since most dogs have no idea whether barking is something good or bad. That's because our reaction to his barking is confusing to the dog. In his eyes, when he barks, he is sometimes ignored, while at other times he is shouted at to stop, and then again he may be encouraged to bark if, for example, there's a suspicious stranger nearby. To help your dog know when barking is acceptable, you simply need to teach him that he may bark until he is told to stop. "Stop barking" should be considered as a command for obedience rather than a telling off. Start the training by letting your dog bark two or three times, praise him for sounding the alarm, then say "Stop barking" and hold out a treat in front of him. Your dog will stop immediately if only due to the fact that he can't sniff the treat while barking. After a few seconds of quiet, give him the reward. Gradually increase the time from when the barking stops to the giving of the reward. If you are concerned about excessive barking that you have no control over, you should seek advice from your vet about next steps, such as specialist training or therapy.
Whining
If you comfort your puppy whenever he whines, it may actually make things worse. It will make your puppy think he's being praised for whining, and get him into the habit of repeating it for your affection. You can help your puppy learn to stop whining by not going to him when he whines. By ignoring your puppy, and only giving him attention and praise when he stops whining, he'll learn that whining and whimpering is not the way to earn your approval.
Read This

Willy said...

I positioned a box under her, and each time the toy dropped inside the box, she got a treat. This one is like a puzzle, and it's easy for the dog to ... dogtoybin.blogspot.com

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