Is your house looking like a battle zone after playing with your dog? Well, did you know that there are ways you can train and teach dogs to clean up toys?
You can teach your dog how to pick things up and drop them. The best way to do this is by using commands such as "pick it up" and "drop it." You'll need to train your pup to pick up an item, identify the toy box and then drop the toy into it, and you can use different techniques for this purpose.
Most dogs behave like children, grabbing every toy they own and scattering it across the house until it starts to look like a tornado hit the house. With a few helpful tips, you can train your dog to pick up his toys and put them away as part of your play routine.
As experienced dog trainers, we've compiled a list of pointers to help you teach your dog to clean up after themselves. You shouldn't waste any time when it comes to training your pup, so let's get started.
Train and Teach Dogs to Pick Up Toys
It takes a combination of good manners and outstanding expertise to teach your dog to put his toys away. The trick takes advantage of a dog's natural urge to fetch and retrieve and turns it into the fun task of cleaning up. Your dog must understand the "take it" and "drop it" training cues before you can begin this practice. Fortunately, dogs are smart enough to pick up on these indications quickly.
How to Teach Your Dog to "Pick It Up"
Teaching your canine companion to pick items off the floor on cue is not just a simple trick. It is a skill, and learning it is actually a three-part exercise. You'll be astonished at how quickly your dog picks it up if you are patient with them and turn it into a game rather than a chore.
Hold your dog's favorite toy in your palm and move it around to make them understand the "pick it up" command. As you do that, you can also repeatedly say, "pick it up." Just when your dog seizes the toy from your hand, give him a pat on the head and say, "good boy" or "great job," or praise him like you normally would for listening to a command. Regular practice of this exercise will help him learn and understand the concept of the "pick it up" command.
How to Teach Your Dog to "Drop It"
Teaching your dog to "drop it" is a basic skill that is sometimes forgotten, which is why you should keep practicing it. Teaching your dog the drop it command can also save your pup's life (and also your belongings from being chewed raw!)
Your dog should already have a toy in his mouth in order to teach them how to "drop it." Hold a treat that your dog enjoys in your palm and give it to him. Then you have to repeatedly say "drop it" while extending your hand out as a gesture. Once he drops the toy, reward him. Your dog may be hesitant to give up his favorite toy, but if your reward is more appealing, such as a piece of chicken, he will readily trade the toy for the treat.
It's recommended to devote around 15 minutes per day, divided into five 5-minute sessions, to teaching your dog to "Drop it." Learning happens rapidly and without overfeeding when small treats are used to reward excellent behavior. If your dog isn't interested in treats, try playing with him or scratching him in a way that he enjoys for a few seconds. Make your training sessions simple enough for your dog to get a reward most of the time. Setting him up for success will save both the learner and the trainer time and frustration.
Things You'll Need
The purpose of this skill is for your dog to pick up their toys when they are asked and bring them to a designated toy box one at a time. To get started, you'll need the following items:
You will probably have a bunch of dog toys lying around the house somewhere.
Make sure you have small pieces of your dog's favorite treat to appreciate them for a good job while they learn and practice the new skill.
You'll need a toy box or a designated location where your dog can store the toys. It'll be best to start with a box or any container without a lid; however, you may later add a lid that your dog must push open and close if that's what you prefer. If you don't have a toy box, a cardboard box, or any other type of container that is big enough to store the toys will work.
Importance of Training and Teaching Dogs to Pick Up Toys
According to NIH, the importance of training and teaching dogs to clean up after themselves should not be ignored. Here are a few reasons why training and teaching dogs to pick up toys is important:
- Dogs tend to spend energy picking up their toys and cleaning up after themselves, which enables them to stay active.
- It makes the dog think, which also tires them out, so they rest later on.
- Cleaning up after themselves gives them a task to do while you can spend time cooking or watching TV.
Step-by-Step Guide to Training Your Dog to Clean up Their Toys
Step 1: Retrieving
Make sure your dog can retrieve toys on command. While many dogs enjoy the game of fetch, not all of them are natural retrievers, so it's a talent you'll have to teach them. It's time to start teaching your dog to put toys away in the toy box once they've learned to retrieve them.
Step 2: Identifying the Box
Toss your dog's toy into the box, which should be near you because your dog is used to playing fetch with you. You can use the fetch cue if you like, but you don't have to. Point to the box as your dog approaches you with his toy. Now is not the time to use a verbal cue! Place the toy box in front of your dog's face or entice them to stand over it. Placing the box in your dog's retrieval line – between you and him – can encourage him to drop it in the box.
Step 3: Dropping the Toy
If your dog throws the toy in the box, click or say "yes/good" and toss in a couple of goodies (this reinforces the idea that the box is important). Say nothing if your dog does not drop the toy in the box. Toss the toy once more and try again. Give your dog the toy and tell them to "drop." Give them lots of rewards and praises when they complete the task and the toy falls into the toy box.
Bring the reward in front of your dog's nose as they hold the toy over the toy box if they don't already know the drop cue. Praise your dog when they let go of the toy to get the treat. After a few practice sessions, you'll be able to introduce the vocal cue "drop" and gradually eliminate the requirement to place a reward.
Step 4: Double-Checking
You'll want to make sure your dog understands that in order to get a treat, the toy must be in the box. When he's virtually always dropping it in the box, move the box away from you (not too far, just a couple inches) and check if he still goes to drop it in.
Step 5: Change Box Location
After a few practice sessions, you can now change the location of the toy box to add more distance. Give your dog a toy or encourage them to pick one up on their own. Use your "toy box" cue to ask your dog to place the toy in the box while they have it in their mouth. Give your dog lots of praise and rewards when they drop the toy in there. If they don't get the box, simply hand the toy to your dog over the box to underline that the purpose is to place the toys inside.
Step 6: Increase Distance
Once your dog has mastered picking up toys near the box, you may gradually raise the complexity of the activity by asking them to retrieve toys from a greater distance. You can even ask your dog to start adding more than one toy away before you give them a treat or a reward as their skill level increases. Your dog will become a cleaning champion with only a couple of practice sessions!
Step 7: Increasing the Number of Toys
You can start adding toys one at a time now that your dog has an idea of what to do. You can treat them for picking many toys in one day to let them know that you appreciate their help in cleaning up the house. But the important thing to remember here is that you must not reward your dog every time he picks up a toy and drops it in the box. Your dog will eventually learn to wait for his reward after dropping off all of his toys.
Step 8: Repetition
Make sure you complete these exercises with your dog every day for two to three weeks. Reduce the number of times you treat him and start teaching him to "clean up" by picking up the toys and dropping them off. When it's time to pick up the toys, your dog will know exactly what to do.
About THE AUTHOR
I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.Read More About Russell Wright