One common frustration among new dog owners is the regular mess that results from toys being strewn around the house. It can look like a hurricane has blown through before long. Fortunately this is one of the many areas where a little training can go a long way toward making your life easier. Here is how you can get your dog to pick up his own toys so that you don’t have to.
Star out by purchasing a toy box for your dog. When you select a toy box for your dog, keep your dog’s size in mind. The idea is that your dog should be able to add and remove toys from the box without your assistance. So don’t buy a large toy box with high walls for a small dog that won’t be able to reach inside. Once you have the toy box, then place it in a specific part of your home where it’s going to stay, at least for a good while. If you move it around, your dog won’t remember where to find it.
Start out by bringing your dog to the box and giving him a toy he’s familiar with. Point out the location of the box to your dog by snapping your fingers over it. When your dog leans over the box to have a look, give him a command to drop the toy in the box. You’ll need to use the same command every time. Have a treat with you so that when your dog does drop the toy in the box, you have the treat ready for positive reinforcement. Do this several times if your dog is up to it – but remember that it always takes patience to train your dog. Some dogs need more time than others to learn something.
Do this training routine a couple of times a day. Once your dog starts getting good at dropping the toy in the box on command, you can give your dog the toy farther away from the box, but still within a close range. Then you can give the clean up command again. Once your dog masters the command when it’s delivered from farther away, you can move still farther from the box and try again. Keep doing the training sessions at greater distances.
Once your dog is good at this, you can place the toy on the floor instead of hand it to your dog (again beginning right next to the toy box), and command your dog to pick it up off the floor and put it back in the box. As with the first exercise, train your dog to do this from farther and father away from the box. Eventually you can train your dog to pick up multiple toys. After your dog has become adept at picking up toys, if you find a mess of toys in another room, eventually you’ll be able to ask your dog to put them away, and your dog will carry them into the room with the toy box and deposit them in the box!