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October 12, 2009

So, we continue to chip away at our new trick CLEAN UP, where Lilly is learning to put away her toys. After just 3-4 short clicker training sessions over the last week or so, we’re making good progress. She will now pick up and put away up to four toys in succession. BUT, I’m stuck at soft toys only at this point, including plush babies, ropes, soft frisbees. I cannot get her to generalize the behavior to any rubber, chew, or food-delivery toy (like a ball, Kong, Canine Genius, or Busy Buddy Waggle).

I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. Thoughts? Advice?

I can get her to bring the toys from two different rooms over to the toy basket. I can get her to bring the various kinds of soft toys we have in the house. She understands, as I mentioned earlier, that it doesn’t count if the toy flies into the basket with such abandon that it pops out.

But, she doesn’t yet get that the food-related toys fit in the same behavior category. If it were only the food toys, I’d guess the problem stems from those being primarily solo-play toys, where she engages with the toy instead of with me. Typically, at our house, softer toys equal engaged play together, like fetch, tug, or keep-away.

We’ll keep working at it, and I promise video eventually, but I wanted to share our progress and struggles.

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. I was thinking the same thing as Samantha – perhaps you need to start from scratch with the food toys (with no soft toys present). So, you train that all by itself before trying to have Lilly ‘generalize’ by dealing with both types of toys at once.

  2. I have the same problem with Marge – she won’t put away any treat dispensing toys, Kongs, etc. I haven’t done much work in this area lately, but I’m thinking maybe you should start with shaping the behavior of her picking it up? Train it separately, so to speak, and then integrate it all later.

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