How To Teach Your Dog To Fetch You A Drink
By Elissa Weimer – Paw & Order Dog Training
How to teach your dog tricks
While it is unclear exactly what dogs had to do to earn the title “Man’s Best Friend,” keeping that status should at least require them to be able to retrieve your favorite cold beverage from the refrigerator when you don’t feel like getting up off of the couch.
Your dog can’t do that, you say? Don’t worry. Here is a training protocol provided by Steve Sentner and Elissa Weimer of Paw & Order Dog Training that can help.
For those of you who don’t want your dog to be able to access the fridge whenever it wants, you can use this technique to train a dog to access anything that can be opened with a tug. Maybe you want it to open the closet and grab a frisbee or open a cabinet to grab a leash. Just follow these steps.
Hook up a handle
Your fridge doesn’t have a good “tugging” handle that you would want your dog biting repeatedly. Even if it did, you need a removable handle so you can use it to do “tugging training” first. So you’ll need to DIY handle extension from a dog pull toy or something similar that you can attach in some way to the fridge. It could be as simple as using a rope that you can tie around the handle.
How to Teach your dog to tug
Before attaching the handle to the door, you need to train your dog to respond to a verbal command. Something like “tug” or “Miller Time.” This is then followed by tugging on the handle extension. You’ll do this by offering the handle and using the verbal command. When the dog bites on the handle and pulls away from you, respond with a marker word and a treat.
This might take a little time and a few treats. It depends on how familiar your dog is with responding to commands. Don’t rush it. The more you reinforce the training now, the easier it will be to get your drink later. If you’ve never trained your dog to do anything, this could be the motivation that you’ve been waiting for.
“Marker word” is defined as a word or phrase that you say to a dog when it does what you want it to do. Like “yes” or “good boy.”
Involve the fridge
The next step is to attach to the fridge door the handle that you’ve been using for tug training. Then repeat the same steps that you used to train the dog to tug. This time train it to tug on the handle while it is attached to the fridge. Again, take your time to ensure that the behavior is learned.
If the dog is strong or persistent enough, it should have some success with tugging the door open instead just tugging on the handle. Once this has happened a few times, shift to providing your marker word and treat only when the door is tugged open. If you notice the dog getting frustrated, make it a little easier by reverting to rewarding for tugging before going back to training the dog to open the door.
Grab a cold one
As you may have figured out by now, the same training that you applied for tugging and opening can also be used for bringing you a drink (or a frisbee or a leash or whatever).
Finally, if having a canine companion that retrieves beverages is not a high priority for you, hopefully this protocol shows you the power of intentionally communicating with your dog. As they say at Paw & Order Dog Training, communication is the key to training. It can be employed to teach a dog any number of behaviors such as sitting, tricks, and acting properly in public. It is good to make training a conversation between you and your dog for life.