How to Get a Dog to Put Toys in the Box

by Susan Paretts

Have Fido gather his toys into a box to help you clean up.

Not only can your pooch learn tricks to entertain you, but he also can perform behaviors on command to help you clean up. Don't let Fido leave his toys all around your home, in spots where you might trip over them. Instead, train him to pick up his toys and place them in a doggie toy basket using positive reinforcement techniques. Teach Fido this complicated process using small steps, eventually combining different behaviors until he puts his toys away when you want him to.

Step 1

Teach your dog to respond to the command to "Sit." Say the command and hold a treat over his nose, moving it backwards over his head until he sits. Immediately praise and treat him. Practice until he responds consistently.

Step 2

Command your dog to "Sit" and walk a few steps away. Say "Come" and tempt him over with treats, rewarding him when he comes to you. Continue to teach him the "Come" command by first having him sit and then moving farther away for each training session.

Step 3

Place a few of your dog's favorite toys around your home. Bring your dog into the room and say "Fetch." When he picks up a toy in his mouth, immediately praise and treat him. For each consecutive time, after he picks up the toy in his mouth, call him over with the "Come" command. Eventually, only reward him after giving the "Fetch" command when he picks up a toy and carries it over to you.

Step 4

Train your dog to respond to the "Drop-it" command. Leave a few toys around the room and stand in front of your dog's toy box or basket. Command Fido to "Fetch" a toy. When he brings it to you, say "Drop-it" and lure him over to the opening of the box with a yummy treat. Hold it in front of his nose until he drops the toy in the box. Praise him immediately and give him the treat.

Step 5

Combine all of the commands you've taught Fido into one new one, such as "Clean-up." With his toys scattered around the room, say "Clean-up" and issue the commands to "Fetch" and "Drop-it." Praise and treat him immediately only when a toy is dropped into the box. For the next few times, make him pick up two, then three toys before you treat and praise Fido. Eventually, just the "Clean-up" command should prompt your pooch to pick up all of his toys and put them into the box.

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