Friday, April 6, 2012

'How-To' Teach 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.


The Daily Pip said...

Pip has never been big on toys so we don't have this problem. Maybe I could use these tips with my daughter! LOL!

fortheloveofpitties said...

LOVE the how-to's this week!

Kate said...

I really need to teach the dogs this trick. My house would be so much neater!

Sarah said...

We're just starting on this with Hurley. But we're at Step 1. He's not a natural born fetcher but so far, he's making good progress on fetching & dropping.

kasia077 said...

Mr. B is no fool. He knows to hang on to his stuffies!

Anonymous said...

I started trying to teach this to my dog weeks ago after seeing the video of Miss M in her cleaning-lady outfit.

Since she doesn't yet know how to fetch, I started by teaching her "take it" (put it in your mouth), thinking it'd be easy to teach "put it away" (drop it in the toy box) after that. But we've hit a wall and I can't figure out how to proceed.

As soon as she figured out that toy in mouth = treat, she started dropping the toy immediately after taking it, and I have not been able to find a way to get her to hold it in her mouth more than a second.

Do you have any guidance? Many thanks.

dw said...

Every time I watch the 'put it away' videos I am smiling! So cute!

Two French Bulldogs said...

You rock Ms M. Are you available to train us?
Benny & Lily

A Wonderful Dogs Life said...

Way to go Miss M you are soooo smart! Great pictures.


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