Megan Brooks CDT, CGC Evaluator
One of the commands I like to teach service dogs is “Take it”. “Take it” means to pick up whatever item I specify and hold it or carry it in their mouth. Usually I have them “Bring it” and then “Give it”.
Keep in mind it will be much easier to teach some dogs than others and much of that depends on the breed of dog. A retriever may be eager to pick up new items, whereas a Pekingese may be more reluctant.
Some dogs will take an object held in front of them but most will need you to get them excited about the object. Pretend it is a toy and wave it around. Say “Are you ready?” and throw them item. Look for that split second he puts his mouth on it and click!, praise and reward. If your dog won’t even put his mouth on it, don’t worry! Use the clicker and reward any interest he shows in the object. Gradually you can hold out and ask him for a more precise “Take-it”.
Method 2 is for dogs who play ball and for dogs who have mastered “Take-it”. It can be used in combination with method 1 or alone. Throw the ball and as your dog picks it up say “Take-it” to label the behavior. When he brings it back say “Drop it” or “Give it” as he is doing it. Do not make the mistake of chanting “Take it” “Take it “ as your dog isn’t taking it. Doing so would label the wrong behavior. Right now as they arte learning, we want to label “Take it” only as the dog is doing it. Later when she knows “Take it” you can command her to do so.
Make it easy for your dog. Set them up for success. Reward very small increments, especially with dogs who don’t readily pick up items in their mouths. Most dogs don’t like metal in their mouths so consider putting a leather key fob on your keys if you are using them.
Last Updated: Monday, February 08, 2010