Teaching your dog to pick things up for you


New Member
I have an incredibly intelligent Whippet/Jack Russel mix who is a VERY fast learner. The problem is I'm a horrible teacher! My goal is to teach her to pick up her toys and put them away in the basket, and I've broken this trick up into sections. She's a horrible fetcher (must be the whippet side). She will run after the toy, grab it, and dance around you with it. We've been working on fetch and shes getting the hang of it (she drops it at my feet usually). Keep in mind as she's fetching shes also dancing and jumping all the way back to me too.

Then I taught her to pick stuff up. Shes got that down pretty well, my only problem is I can't figure out how to get her to hold on to it! She will pick it up and fling it somewhere, or immediately drop it. I tried holding my hand out and trying to get her to put the toy in my hand, but it wasn't catching on and she was getting frustrated as to why i wasn't treating her when she was picking it up.

Any suggestions on what I can do to get her to hold onto the toy to put it in my hand? or even more important, hang on to it long enough to put it in the basket? (Oh yeah and she doesn't play tug either, it's really hard to get her to play with toys a lot too when I have treats in my pocket).

Everything I look up on how to teach this trick doesn't have any info on what to do if your dog just picks it up and drops it every time!


New Member
thankyou so much! Yeah my dog does the same thing, she just tosses it at you! I'll try your technique and see if it works for my pup. Thankyou so much!


New Member
i'm starting to get so frustrated with her, she's such a spaz and she doesn't focus. I even took her for a long walk but shes still bouncing off the walls every time i try to get her to pick something up. Now shes picking it up but purposely tossing it away from me (where i can't grab it before she drops it). Maybe she's just not cut out for this trick.


Honored Member
Staff member
Maybe you shouldn't start your training sessions with this trick. Start with other tricks, so she's focused by the time you get to this one. Be patient with her. She thinks the object of the game is to pick it up and toss it(whether it's at you or away from you). So what YOU have to do is just figure out how to get the desired behavior out of her. Since you're getting frustrated, maybe abandon this trick and come back to it later.

I did this with a few different tricks with Mud. If we were both having trouble with a trick, I'd just move on to something else. A couple months later, I might try it again. Mud did much better, and I was starting fresh--and usually, by then I had figured out new ways to get her to understand what I wanted her to do.

How often does she get walks? How long are your training sessions? How often do you have training sessions?


New Member
she gets walks about 3 to 4 times a week, and she runs with my husband every morning. I try to do a trick with her everyday for about 15 to 20 minutes (depending or not if shes interested or not). I've been working on her with it for 2 weeks now and there just has been no progress, so maybe you are right and I should take a little break with it and do something else that's easier for her.


Experienced Member
When I am working with a dog that is just not understanding retrieve I use a knotted sock with treats in it.
I would keep the dog on leash and after throwing the toy and they get it I would move away so that they have to carry the sock or they won’t be able to have it. Then I would encourage the dog to come to me as I reel in the leash and exchange it for a treat that is higher value then those in the sock.
Once the dog understands the game you can phase out the treats in the sock. Then put multiple socks out on the floor and after they bring you each one they get a treat. Then start using various toys.