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How to Teach Your Dog to Open His Toy Box

Learn how to teach your dog to put away his toys from professional dog trainer Andrea Arden in this Howcast dog training video, part 1 of a 2-part series.


Teaching your dog to open up a box, go pick up one of their toys or more and put them away is super cute and it is sure to impress everyone who sees your dog do it. Even you, because it means you don't have to clean up your dog's toys, and this is how you teach it.

You're going to start by teaching your dog to open up a toy box. You want to find a toy box that is relatively easy for your dog to open. This one has little flaps in it, and the very first thing you're going to do is you're going to see if you can get your dog to just interact, yes, with that lid in any way possible.

So what I'm essentially saying to Nora by saying the word "yes" when she comes over to interact with this box is, "I like that you're interacting with it. I like that you're playing with it. I want you to work harder and figure out exactly what it is I'm looking for." Can you go over there and play with that? Yes. That was actually very impressive. I don't know why I just said that.

So, that time she made a real effort. She really pushed that flap with her nose. That time you notice she clearly doesn't have a full understanding what I'm looking for so she's just trying to play with the box in any way she can. Yes.

What I'm going to say to her is, "Not when you push the box. That's not what I'm looking for. But when you play with the flaps of the box, when you push those around." Because that's obviously what she needs to do to get the flaps open. That's when I'm going to say that word "yes".

So the reason I'm bringing Nora back away from the box after each time that I say "yes" because she did something I like is because I want to give her a chance to sort of restart and reorient towards the box. Go over there. Yes. That was a little, tiny nose touch, and actually that was a little bit of an off or delayed response on my part.

So, sometimes as a handler or a trainer, you're going to make mistakes and you should be able to forgive yourself. And likewise, when your dog doesn't do something exactly right, you should be able to forgive them. This is a learning process. It's about having fun, so don't get upset.

Can you go over there? Yes. So that was a little, tiny nose bump. I'm going to see now, yes, if I can start to reward her when she interacts with the box in such a way that she's more likely to open the flap. What's that. Yes. Good. So that was a real push. She almost got it all the way open, so I'm going to make sure that she understands that I really like the fact that she worked really hard to try and get that flap open. Okay, come over here. Ready? Go get that. Yes.

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