3 Handy, Dandy Tricks for Your First Mate

These behaviors will help you out at home and exercise your dog's mind.

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How often have we wished out dogs earned their keep? As you toil at the office, your dog lazes on the couch. Even if you don't plan on sending your dog out into the workforce, teaching it simple behaviors will make your life easier.

1. Pick It Up
This trick can be applied to hundreds of scenarios, including asking the dog to bring you its food bowl or to pick up something you've dropped, such as a piece of laundry.

To start, grab a toy your dog loves (stuffed toys work well) and encourage the dog to tug or grab the toy from your hand. When your dog holds the toy in its mouth, give praise and trade the toy for a treat. Toss to toy a few feet, and reward your dog for picking it up.

If your dog doesn't like toys, use a clicker and click when your dog looks at or touches the toy. Your dog will learn that touching and picking up toys earn a reward.

Once your dog readily picks up a toy from the ground, add a command like "pick it up." Praise and give treats when your dog grabs the object. Then transition to something slightly less desirable, such as a plastic water bottle or an empty paper towel roll. Gradually increase the difficulty of the objects until your dog picks up whatever item you indicate. Many dogs dislike holding metal or other hard objects so save those for last.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the November 2011 issue of DOG WORLD today, or  subscribe  to receive the best dog articles, dog news, and dog information every month!

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