How to teach a dog to put toys away?

Hi Dopers. My question is two fold.
Background: We have a 1-year-old Cocker spaniel. Her name is Lady. Lady loves her toys. She’s a quick learner, for we’ve (my fiancé and I) have taught her to sit, get-the-ball, get-the-chicken (rubber squeaky toy), get-in-your-cage, and go-outside.

I understand Lady might have too many toys, but she loves them all. She actually plays with them all. Daily I pick them up and put them back in the toy basket. And during the day, Lady brings them out one by one and leaves them scattered in the house.

My hope are to eventually issue an command like “Put them away” and she would run through the house, and pick up each toy and put it in her basket.

What would be the best approach to teach her to put her toys away?

I ask, because after a quick walk through the house my counts are as follows:
1 – regular tennis ball
2 – mini tennis balls
3 – partial eaten rawhide chews
3 – rubber squeaky toys (chicken, fish, ostrich)
Would any dog be able to stay on track for 9 items? :dubious:

Thanks in advance

I cant even get our kids to put away their toys after 7 years training so good luck!

I think the best way is the old reward technique.

Get angry at the dog for leaving the toys out, show it how to put it away, reward it with a clean, toy-free floor.

Reward every instance of the dog putting away toys until it understands.
That used to work for my old girl, except shes too old and lazy for anything tricky like that now :slight_smile:

I suspect it’s about as likely as teaching her to do double-entry book-keeping! But good luck.

We’ve been trying to teach my 2yo Golden how to put pinecones in a bucket. She doesn’t have a good grasp of the concept of “drop” yet, so it’s a slow process.

What we’ve been doing is giving her the pinecone, bringing the bucket right up to her nose and telling her to “drop”. Pinecone lands in the bucket (sometimes) and we go wild crazy with praise.

To translate this into a new command, you’d have to break it down into different words and then make it a game.

“get the chicken! Get the chicken! good puppy!”

Ok it’s got the chicken. Then you’d want to take the dog over to the toybox (nicely, by the collar. Talk nice so it doesn’t think it’s being punished) and say something like “put away! go on! put away!” You might need to take the chicken out of its mouth to begin with, because “put away” is the same concept as drop, but the dog doesn’t know that. If you use “drop” for putting stuff in the toybox, it’ll get confused.

Then when it drops the chicken into the toy box, go crazy happy and give kisses and hugs. Make sure to keep its attention so it doesn’t go back into the toybox and get the chicken. Then move onto the other toys.

Good dogs with good owners can be taught alot of things. I think your dog can learn this. Just going to take alot of time and A LOT of repetition. Good luck!

I agree with LuckySevens that the reward technique is the way to go to train her - with one exception, don’t get angry with the dog. They don’t connect the dots the way we humans do - there has to be a rock solid connection between what the dog does wrong and the “reprimand”. In this case it’s not there, you let the dog play and then suddenly it’s wrong to leave the toys around. If you do that, she will associate it with the playing, not with the toys, just as a dog reprimanded for barking at a strange dog while out walking associates the reprimand with the new dog and not her own barking. Just saying.

However, my advice to you would be: Don’t. You could easily train her to pick up individual items, but to have her pick up everything with one command you need to associate the toys as a group with one command. The logic breaks when you buy her a new toy or she gets tired of one of the old ones.

My very best advice is this: Get used to it. As a dog owner (of an English Setter) for several years I can honestly say it’s like having a two year old in the house that never grows up. At the end of an ordinary day there are toys, dog equipment, and sometimes even empty cans (which he loves to pick up from the trash after cleverly opening the door) all over my place. Not to mention dog hairs. I even find dog hairs in my fridge. It’s a new way of life, but it’s a fun one. :slight_smile: