Teaching Dogs to Pick Up Toys - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-05-2018, 03:00 PM Thread Starter
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Teaching Dogs to Pick Up Toys

I've read some articles and watched some videos, but I'm wondering if anyone has any first-hand experience teaching your dogs to pick-up her/her toys. What things worked?

My two know "drop it" and do pretty well with that. The problem is they don't want to pick it up. They just look at it then look at me like "what do you want?" LOL Then I've tried picking it up myself and holding it in front of them and saying "take." They're starting to catch on to "take" but they won't hold on to it. They drop it immediately as soon as they take it.

So they either won't pick it up or won't hold on to it long enough to drop it in the correct spot. Suggestions? Thank you!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-05-2018, 03:18 PM
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I taught my girl to put all her toys in a basket. A trick she still just loves to do. But she was solid on the retrieve, then I just shaped the basket part with a clicker.

I taught a dumbbell retrieve to my boy the way Michael Ellis teaches it. My dogbwas none roo interested in holding an item. He would retrieve toys fine but immediately drop them at my feet, the holding part was what pulled it all together.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 11:17 PM Thread Starter
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My dogbwas none roo interested in holding an item. He would retrieve toys fine but immediately drop them at my feet, the holding part was what pulled it all together.
Yes that's the problem I'm having too. They won't hold it. Will you give me some tips on "shaping the box." What does that mean exactly? I used a clicker but not very much. I'm not sure if I know what "shaping" means either, although I've heard that word. Could you explain more? Thank you!
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 11:30 PM
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I have a book that teaches it as a trick. I'll post what it says tomorrow. It's on my to do list. My pup is like my kids in this way when I clean up toys he suddenly is very interested in playing with them. Hehe
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-07-2018, 03:33 AM
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Midnite picks up toys in the yard as I mow the lawn. It's his job and he enjoys it. I didn't teach it intentionally. I was cutting the grass and jumped off the lawnmower to move a ball and he was right there, so he grabbed it. The next time he saw me getting ready to get off the lawn mower he just grabbed the toy. Now I tell him it's time to work and he gets excited and waits by the back gate or me to get the lawn mower.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-07-2018, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emcale View Post
Yes that's the problem I'm having too. They won't hold it. Will you give me some tips on "shaping the box." What does that mean exactly? I used a clicker but not very much. I'm not sure if I know what "shaping" means either, although I've heard that word. Could you explain more? Thank you!
A marker is used to mark the exact moment your dog(or animal) does a behavior you like. It is immediate feedback and gives us time to reinforce the behavior with something, usually food, but could also be a toy or life reward. Shaping is when you mark and reward behaviors that are part of your goal behavior. For a retrieve it may start out with you marking your dog for looking at an item, then moving toward it, then sniffing it, then touching with their nose, then putting their mouth on it, then picking it up, then you would build duration.

The basics are pretty simple, mark and reward, but as you get into it there is a lot more to it. The really good trainers skilled at splitting behaviors into many small steps and progressing in a manner that keeps the dog engaged and moving forward without even realizing things are getting harder. I suggest starting off teaching a throw away behavior at first. This way if anything goes wrong you will not have ruined a behavior you want. Also set a timer so you aren't tempted to train for too long. And if things start to go off the rails toss some treats on the floor or ask for a behavior you do knows and end the session. I also recommend doing a video you can go back and look at, you will learn a lot


Here are some links to get you started:

https://clickertraining.com/what_is_...ning?source=nf

https://www.clickertraining.com/the-...ping-revisited

https://denisefenzi.com/2015/12/08/shaping-a-retrieve/


These get a little more technical:

https://denisefenzi.com/2014/04/02/b...chains-part-1/

https://denisefenzi.com/2011/10/29/l...shaping-oh-my/

https://wonderpupstraining.com/artic...-for-behavior/

https://wonderpupstraining.com/artic...-for-duration/

https://wonderpupstraining.com/articles/just-one-more/
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-07-2018, 12:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks @Bramble! You explained it well. I'll take a look at all those links.

@Apex1 - thank you for taking time out of your day to help me, and even putting something on your to-do list And yes, if I do get mine to drop it in the basket, they are suddenly interested in their toys, too LOL. They bury their head in there and pull stuff out
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-07-2018, 02:18 PM
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What bramble said.

I taught my dog to hold by first getting him accustomed to me restraining his muzzle with my hands. Then I would have him walk a step or two while I was holding his muzzle. Then I put a piece of PVC pipe, skinny, in his mouth and held it there, gradually releasing my hand pressure to make him hold it until he would hold it on his own.

Separate from this I shaped the "take" with a marker word and food rewards.

Later I combined them both so he could take the item out of my hand and then I would give him a verbal cue to hold it. When he can hold, I would back up a step and have him take a step in while holding it, until he could follow me across a room like that.

Last, change where the dog takes it from from your hand to the floor and then away from you,

That's a pretty super over simplified explanation and I got and needed extra info from Ellis about how to make it less stressful and ultimately rewarding for my dog. He has a DVD on it, I think.

I'm sure there is info out there somewhere on how to get the whole retrieve without forcing the dog to hold the item but this worked fine for us. My dog enjoys the dumb bell and is doing a pretty good whole dumb bell retrieve at this point.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-07-2018, 03:56 PM
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Newlie was a cheater-butt. He got the idea quick enough so he would drop one toy in the box and then keeping picking up the same toy out of the box and dropping it in again,
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