Dog Delivery Tricks

Delivery Tricks for Dogs

The fundamental skill involved in retrieval tricks is the dog’s ability to carry things in her mouth. The secondary skill is the dog’s ability to carry things in her mouth from one place to another. Delivery tricks simply exchange the “from” and “to,” which, as these next few tricks will show, can be fun and functional.

Put Away Your Toys

This trick will impress your more practical non-dog-owning friends. A dog that picks up her own toys beats the heck out of a spouse or child who can’t find the laundry hamper or put his dirty dishes in the sink. For this trick the dog has to pick up one toy at a time and put it in her toy box or basket. The shaping steps are as follows:

  1. Hand your dog a toy and tell her to Take It; when she has the toy in her mouth, click and treat her for holding it.
  2. Put the toy box between your feet and encourage the dog to come to you; click and treat her for holding the toy over the top of the box.
  3. Repeat the previous step but ask the dog to Leave It as she holds the toy over the box.
  4. Put the toy on the floor and tell her to Take It; click and treat her for picking up the toy.
  5. Repeat the previous step with more than one toy on the floor at a time.
  6. Replace the Take It and Leave It cues with the new cue Toys Away by saying the new cue right before the old cue. Gradually fade the old cue.

Bring This to Daddy

This trick is great for dogs looking for a job to do. Having your very own canine delivery service is a great way for your dog to earn her keep. For this trick your dog has to pick up an object — a note, a tool, or any item reasonable for her to carry — and take it to someone else in the house. The shaping steps are as follows:

  1. Hand your dog an object, using the command Take It, and have a helper call her from a step or two away. Click and treat her for moving toward that person.
  2. Gradually move the helper greater and greater distances and click and treat the dog for moving away from you and toward your helper.
  3. Gradually fade out the helper calling the dog and have the person go out of sight.
  4. Replace the Take It command with Bring This to Daddy by saying the new cue right before you say Take It. Click and treat the dog for taking the object and moving in the direction of the helper. Gradually fade out the old cue.
  5. Vary the objects you have the dog carry and practice often. This is the type of trick that gets better the more you practice it.

Being a good dog trainer involves good planning. Trainers who plan ahead and map out their training sessions tend to have more success than those who don’t. Clear goals and clear steps for reaching them are essential to knowing when your dog has arrived!

Mail a Letter

Teaching your dog to mail a letter is a fun and functional trick that uses lots of energy and is entertaining to watch. Your dog must take a letter in her mouth, jump on the mailbox, and push the letter through the slot. She will need you to pull down the lever for her so she can drop the mail in the right spot.

This trick is probably best taught to dogs tall enough to reach the top of the mailbox, unless you give your little one a boost. The shaping steps for teaching this trick are as follows:

  1. Using the Touch command, ask your dog to use her nose to push the letter into the slot. Click and treat her for touching her nose to the letter.
  2. Withhold the click and treat until she pushes the letter a little further toward the slot this time.
  3. Have her put two front paws on the mailbox and click and treat her for staying up for gradually longer periods of time. If you have a small dog, you may want to hold her close to the box and click her for putting her feet on the top.
  4. Hand your dog a letter and tell her to Take It. Click and treat her for taking the letter, then for holding the letter for longer periods of time.
  5. Call her to put her paws on the box while holding the letter and click and treat.
  6. Work on this step until the dog is easily balancing on her hind legs while holding the letter.
  7. Now try to get the dog to leave the letter on the tray by telling her to Leave It and clicking and treating her for letting the letter go. You may need to adapt this trick for small dogs by holding them close to the box.
  8. Practice all the steps until the whole thing is fluid and the dog responds to your command Take It by following through with all the other steps.
  9. Replace the cue Take It with the new cue Mail It by saying the new cue right before the old cue and gradually fading the old cue.

Throw This in the Trash

Teach your dog to pick up anything you point to, including soda cans or other household items. This retrieving trick requires your dog to pick up the trash and release the object into a trash bucket. To make it easier for your dog to get the trash into the container, you will probably want to use an open or swing-top trash bucket that is no taller than your dog’s elbows.

  1. Have your dog retrieve lots of different kinds of trash items, and have her bring them to you over increasingly longer distances.
  2. Sit on a chair with the trash bucket between your feet. Tell your dog to pick up an item using the Take It cue and call her to you; click and treat her when she is as close to the opening of the bucket as she’ll come.
  3. Repeat this step but delay the click by a few seconds until she is eventually standing with her chin right over the edge of the bucket.
  4. With your dog standing close to the bucket, tell her to Leave It and click and treat her for releasing the trash. You will need to practice this so that your dog will eventually release the item right into the trash bucket.
  5. Experiment by withholding the click until your dog makes a deliberate effort to drop the item into the bucket.
  6. Label the behavior Throw It Away by saying this new cue right before the old cues Take It and Leave It. You will have to practice this many times before the new cue initiates the behavior.
  7. Practice with different items so that your dog will retrieve and discard just about anything you ask her to.

Starting with a shallow box or basket will help the dog deliver the trash into the right spot.

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