Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Training 101: Bring It

Many of the different doggy blogs talk about how they have taught their dogs to carry their toys while on walks or when greeting visitors at the door.  It has been a goal of ours to teach Athena to do this as her "job" while on walks and just because it looks so cute to see a proud dog walking down the street with a ball in their mouth!  We are very excited to announce that Athena has now learned how to carry her ball while we take walks!  It wasn't intentional to teach "bring it" for carrying toys on walks, so we won't act like we are superstar trainers or anything!
When we play fetch with Athena we say "bring it" when we want her to pick up her ball and carry it over to us (getting it out of her mouth is a different story and has required lots of work on "trade" and "drop it" commands).  Sometimes Athena gets so excited during fetch that she drops her ball, starts wiggling all around, and then runs over to us with a big smile like "OK!  Let's do it againnnn!!!!!!"  When she forgets to bring the ball back to us, we say "bring it" and point in the direction of her ball.  She will go back to where she left her ball, pick it up, and bring it back.
We also use the "bring it" command for other things like when Athena is playing with her Nylabone and gets a little too hyper.  She will sit quietly on the ground chomping on her Nylabone for a few minutes, but then will all of a sudden decide that she wants to get up and whip it around the house like a dangerous weapon.  We say "bring it" to instruct her to bring the Nylabone to us (we don't take it from her) and then we say "lay down" to remind her that she should be laying down when chewing on this toy (this prevents any human injury or damage to the furniture).

We realized that the "bring it" command is exactly what we needed to use when teaching Athena how to carry her ball in her mouth during walks.  So, when taking a walk we place Athena's ball on the ground or have her take it from our hand as we say "bring it."  She now knows to pick up the ball in her mouth and carry it.  When we get to our location we can trade her a treat for her ball with the "trade" command.
Because we use every single walk as an opportunity to train using heel, leave it, sit, down, and stay commands, we don't have Athena carry her ball during the entire walk.  We usually start the "bring it" command when we are about three minutes away from our destination (the park or the house).  This way she gets practice with her general commands and gets a bit of time to practice the "bring it" command.

Check out a video of Athena bringing her ball to the park:

So, now we have a super cute dog who carries her own ball to the park!  Have you taught your dog to carry their toys around?  What command do you use and how did you teach it?



  1. This is awesome! Zoe loves to carry a ball when she walks too! She would also be happy with a stick, but then she ends up stopping to shred them into tiny little pieces! So the ball has won out. I've found that it definitely helps her deal with distractions (birds, dogs, etc.) because she's on a singular mission to carry her ball. The only issue we've ever had is when she once dropped it and before I could grab it, it rolled into the street. We're working on the "drop it" "hold it" command still...:)

    1. The "bring it" command has also helped Athena deal with distractions around us on walks like birds and other dogs. When another dog starts barking at her we remind her of her job by saying "bring it" and sometimes we add in "do your job!"

      We are afraid that Athena might drop her ball when crossing busy streets so we usually get her to drop the ball before we get to the crosswalk...however I wish it was as easy as saying "drop it" and she would give it to us. it takes a lot of "trade" commands and sticking treats up to her nose to get her to let go of her ball!