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We enjoy teaching our dogs new tricks. Especially if they can be applied in different situations.
Today’s article discusses how to teach your dog to “take it.” It not only teaches ‘take it’, but also how to use the command on one of our favorite holidays: Halloween!
Read on to find out how ‘take it’ can come in handy during the spookiest holiday of the year!
UPDATE: This post was originally published on MyDogLikes on October 20, 2017. We recently updated and republished here on PuppyInTraining.com.
Trick or Treating can be a lot of fun for the people in the house, but taking your dog with you is probably not a good idea.
Just because we don’t recommend taking your dog trick or treating doesn’t mean he/she can’t be part of the fun! How do you ask?
Teach your old dog a new trick!
If you know Harley and Charlie at all, you know they are friendly guys who love Halloween.
No, it’s not because we dress them up in amazing costumes… it’s because all the kids come to our door looking for candy.
They just love visitors! Every year we post one baby gate in the doorway and let them open it when the children knock! They love it and so do the kids!
This year we decided that we would up the greeting a bit and really get the boys involved by helping them carry the candy container to the door!
To achieve this we teach the dogs “Take it” and “Hold it”.
How to Teach Your Dog to ‘Take It’
All teaching starts with a little bit of positive reinforcement.
We are big proponents of using a clicker to teach a new trick because it helps reinforce the exact moment when your dog does one of the approaches to the behavior you are looking for.
What you’ll need
Step 1: Charge the Clicker
If your dog has never used a clicker before, or if he hasn’t used one in a while, start by “charging” the clicker.
Charging a clicker is not complicated, just click and treat your dog. The click starts to get their attention.
You’ll know the clicker is ‘charged’ when the sound of the click stops it while it waits for a treat!
Step 2: Find a toy, click when he touches/picks it up
The next step can be done in two ways. You can choose to let your dog pick up the object from the ground, or take it from your hand.
From the floor
Clear the room of other toys or loose objects that could be distracting or confusing. Place the toy between you and your dog.
Your dog will look at you and try to figure out what you want him to do so he can get a treat.
When Charlie started learning, he tried all his tricks, like sit, lie down, paw, placeetc. in an attempt to figure out what I wanted.
This is the hardest part, but wait! Your dog will explore and learn in his environment!
As soon as your dog touches the toy with his mouth, click and reward.
If your dog needs some help with this step, pick up the toy, point to it, or move it in some way to get his attention.
Again, ONCE they touch/pick it up with their mouth, click and reward!
Continue doing this until your dog consistently touches the toy with his mouth.
Since your goal is to get your dog to “get” the object, you should only click and reward when he picks it up. This is how you shape behavior!
From your Hand
To get your dog to take something from your hand, the steps are similar.
While holding an object in one hand, click and reward when your dog touches the toy with his mouth or puts it in his mouth!
This can be a little more difficult because there isn’t as much distance between you, your dog and the treats you have, so he may get distracted by your treats!
TIP: Use a toy or familiar object that your dog already enjoys playing with!
Step 3: Link the “Take It” command
Once your dog consistently puts the object in his mouth and realizes that you want him to interact with the toy, pair it with a command such as “Take this” or “Pick It Up”.
Keep clicking and treating until the command causes your dog to pick up the toy!
Step 4: Generalize – Try different toys
After your dog has been given the verbal command, try to eliminate the object you are using. Be sure to take away the toys you were using so there is no confusion.
This will help your dog learn that your command applies to many different things, not just the toy you initially used! Be sure to keep clicking and treating!
Step 5: Increase the time your dog holds the item
After much practice over several training sessions, you can shape the behavior so that your dog will keep the object in his mouth for a longer period of time.
Simply place the object on the floor/give it to your dog and click and reward only when he holds it in his mouth for a predetermined amount of time.
Start small, like 2 seconds, and then reward. You can gradually build up longer periods.
When they start to get what you want them to do, you can introduce a command like “hold it” to show them that you want them to keep the item in their mouth!
How can I use this trick?
There are many uses for this trick. This trick is a great foundation for more complex tricks, like getting them to put away their toys.
It’s also great if you like to photograph your dog with something in his mouth, picking up the newspaper etc.
How did we use this trick?
Halloween of course! We have generalized this trick to a pumpkin bucket that we use as candy for our trick or treaters.
We practiced it first by having them pick up the empty bucket and then by adding some weight to it so they got used to it being a little heavier.
Come Halloween, they’re ready to go live with this trick and greet our trick-or-treaters at the door!
If you want to try something similar, great!
Just make sure you hand your dog the bucket of treats and then take it away from him so he doesn’t eat any of it!
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