Teach Fido To Use His Toy Box

By Guest Writer: Lars Bar

As a visually impaired person, I should be more vigilant when it comes to making sure that the floor of my apartment is clear of anything that could cause me discomfort when stepped on, marrow bones being of the perfect size to cause me major pain, as an example. Lars is totally spoiled when it comes to the number of bones he has the choice of when he decides to enjoy a chew, but to my chagrin, he tends to leave them all over the place which sooner or later results in me stepping on one of them and vowing to teach Lars to put his stuff away when he is finished!

Teaching Lars to put his toys away would mean that my floor would be free of land mines, and my toes would greatly appreciate it as I have lost count as to the number of times I have stubbed them on the stupid things. I can just imagine Lars quietly lying down watching me walking around, snickering to himself as he sees me approaching a bone, only to not avoid it and end up hitting it with my foot.

So how easy would it be to teach Lars to put his toys away? Pretty easy as he already knows all of the steps in place, he just does not know the order I want him to perform them in. As for myself, all I need in order to teach Lars to put his toys away when he is done, is something for him to put them in, hmmmm yes I think this grocery box from Country Grocer will do just fine thank you very much.

When teaching a skill that involves multiple steps, the easiest way to do it is to work backwards from the end of the skill to the beginning of it. This means that to teach Lars to put his bone away when he is done, I have to show him that I want him to drop his bone in the box, and then once he has this down, the next step would be to teach him to take his bone over to the box when he is done with it and drop it inside.

Steps I will follow To Teach Lars to Put His Bones Away When He Is Done chewing

First I will put all of Lars's toys in the box, thus if he wants one to chew on, he has to go to the box and retrieve one. When he picks one out of the box, I will immediately not let him leave with it, and will ask him to drop it while making sure he drops it back in the box. Why will he master this step so quickly? First of all, Lars knows the 'drop it" command and when I give it he will drop whatever he is holding in his mouth. Second, by not letting him drop it anywhere other than the box, he is learning that I want him to drop it back in the box. When he does this, I will treat him and fuss over him, so he knows how much of a good boy he is being. The more willing he is to drop the bone when I tell him too, the longer I will have him stand with the bone in his mouth before I ask him to drop it. Another alternative for rewarding Lars when he drops the bone in the box is to click and treat, as he is very aware of what the clicker is, I just am not the biggest proponent of it.

As Lars becomes more willing to drop the bone back in the box upon grabbing it from the box, I will allow him to move away from the box with the bone in his mouth. At this stage, it might be a good idea to make sure that he is very interested in that bone, because he may lose interest in it and just drop it on the floor and move on. One way of keeping him very focused on the bone, is to mark it with a scent that Lars loves, peanut butter being the easiest to work with.

When Lars graduates to moving away from the box with the bone in his mouth, I will never let him stray too far from the box. The further he is away from the box when I ask him to drop it, the harder it will be for me to coax him to actually drop it back in the box. For example, I will let him take the bone from the box and move a few meters away. I will then stop him, not allowing him to lie down with it, and command him to drop it. At the same time I give the command, I will direct him back to the box with a hand on his collar, the other hand under his chin to keep his mouth closed to insure he does not simply drop it on the floor.

As Lars grasps the concept of dropping his bone back in his toy box when he is done chewing, I will allow him to venture further from his box with his bone. He often likes to take his bone away to his own bed for a chew, only later to bring it out again and drop it wherever. In cases where he simply leaves the bone on the ground and does not appear interested in putting it back where it is "supposed to go," I will physically put it in his mouth, direct him to his box like I mentioned above and instruct him to drop it. Sometimes dogs simply need to be shown hands on what you want them to do, and this is a perfect example. Lars also knows the grab it command, and I often use it with him when I want him to grab his tug rope or bone, which gives me another way of approaching the situation when he drops the bone and walks off.

Consistency is the name of the game here, and I will be very consistent when it comes to performing regular training sessions with Lars as far as his toy box is concerned, because him learning this skill will mean that I will also benefit! On the other hand, maybe if there were not six or seven bones lying around here in various stages of ruin, I would not be walking on them all the damn time.

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