Teach Your Dog to Hold An Object
May 6, 2012 in Dog Training
This may seem like a silly trick to teach, but the hold command is a prerequisite for tons of other useful tricks. With this command, you can teach your dog to play fetch, put his toys away, sort laundry/recycling, or even bring you a beer from the fridge!
You will need:
Complete the Prerequisite: Clicker Conditioning
An easy to hold object for your dog, such as a toy.
Distraction Free Work Area
Take your dog to a distraction free work area, and either show the dog the toy or place it on the ground. Most dogs will sniff it out of curiosity. As soon as he so much as looks at the toy, click and reward. Click and reward for anything your dog does related to the toy. If he picks up the toy, click and jackpot.
Repeat this over the course of two or three sessions, no more than fifteen or so treats per session. Do this until your dog responds to the toy in some way 100% of the time.
Now that your dog knows what you want has something to do with the toy, start getting pickier about what will and will not earn a click. Eliminate looking at the toy one session, and then in a couple more sessions, eliminate pawing. If your dog gets confused or frustrated, go back to something he knew for two or three sessions before trying again.
Eventually eliminate everything but actually grasping the toy. Congratulations! Your dog knows how to hold a toy. Probably for about one second. Never mind, the sky is the limit, as with everything else in the dog world. Continue to shape the hold by asking for longer periods of time or other behaviors along with it.
For those who are curious, Leia started nose touching the toy right away, but didn’t offer any other behavior for 3 sessions of about 5 minutes each. By lesson 5 she was biting the toy, by lesson 8 she was lifting it, but still offering other behaviors such as chewing and pawing the toy.
I’d love to hear how other people do with this trick, and where they go from here. Please share!