trick advice


Experienced Member
Hi guys,
Looking for an alternative method to a new trick that I am trying to teach my young 2yo border. Basically ,I'm trying to get him to take and hold an object in his mouth and hold it till I say "give" . We are using an old remote control ( as per jan. challenge), clicking with high quality treats. After more than a week, practising everyday, he has progressed to a quick bite, all teeth over the remote, but will not give me more than 1/2 second of holding it. If I throw it away from him, he will gladly fetch it, bring it back and drop at my feet.
He is a very smart dog, and learns very quickly, but will not get this one.
Any advice ?


New Member
Maybe the remote tastes bad and he doesn't want to hold it?

No seriously: I'd try a different object if I were you and start over again.


Experienced Member
My dog did the same thing, and I don't know why she suddenly started to lift the object.
My dog doesn't like to carry stuff in her mouth, so we started out from zero.
So it was the same thing, she only bit it for a half second, then stepped away from it.

If your dog doesn't want to hold the remote in his mouth, maybe you could try to hold the remote in your hand, and reward for touching it there. Then only for biting, or touching with an open mouth. If he understands that holding the remote in his mouth is good, I bet he will try lifting it. At least this is what I did with my dog, before actually starting to teach retrieving.
Then i started to teach the real trick:

As I remember, I clicked for looking at the object first, then moving towards it, then touching it (until this point, she understood what I want from her very fast), then opening her mouth and touching it, and then she suddenly lifted it a littlebit. Jackpot, end session.
Then I didn't take out this trick for about 4-5 sessions, then started again. This time the same thing happened as in the first sessions, but much more faster. Looking, moving towards it, touching, biting, lifting. This time she got a big reward, just like in the other session, but I didn't end the training. Now she had to lift it higher.
If she did, and moved a littlebit with the object in her mouth, jackpot, end session.
In the next trainig, we continued from where we stopped, moving with the object in her mouth. If this was going good, I raised the criteria. She had to move towards me. And closer, and closer, until she dropped the object in front of me. From then on, I put my hand under her chin, so if she would drop it, the object would fall in my hand. From then on, she would only get a reward for dropping the object in my hand.

Well, I wrote down how I thought the whole trick, I hope it wasn't too confusing...:dogwub:

I hope this helps...:dogblush:
Good luck!


Experienced Member
I think this is one of those things that would be easier to help with, if we could actually see the issue that you're having. In the most simplest terms, the dog will release the object early if it is still getting rewarded for doing so.

So then comes the age-old question of how fast should/can you progress. The answer, of course, is that it depends on the dog. Is it possible to make a video of the problem at all, so we can see exactly what's happening?


New Member
I agree with CollieMan - I wouldn't reward the dropping of the object. I also agree you should try with another object. Xsara, for example, didn't like to hold the metal bowl in her mouth, but would hold the plastic one. So I put the plastic bowl in the metal one and clicked when she grabbed both. So I would definitely start teaching this with another object and then switch to the remote. I also taught maybe you could teach him to put the remote in a box or something similar, and then move the box a little so that he wouldn't just be able to drop it in and would have to hold the remote in his mouth for a while. And once he keeps it in his mouth for 3 seconds, don't reward 2 seconds again, only 3+ is good enough.


i think you should change to another item instead of using the remote before your dog learn the 'hold' command...

my dog had the habit of dropping the item at my feet too, because this is what she learn since she starts playing with balls..

so i taught her the 'hold' command 1st.... i put the item in her mouth, hold her muzzle close... then at later stage, i will redraw my hand from her muzzle and make her 'hold' for few seconds and then progress further..

only until she got reliable with the 'hold' command, then only i will combine it with the retrieve exercise....

when she is retrieving back the item, just before she decide to dump it at my feet again, i will command 'hold'....


Experienced Member
Thanks for the advice everybody, it's been valuable.
I have made progress, gave up on the remote and started with a ball, he is starting to hold for 2-3 seconds. Which I beleive is slow progress for the amount of time we've been training this exercise. He seems to 'intellectually' get the idea, if i say "hold" , ball directly in front of his mouth, he takes it, then I hold his muzzle with my hand , then let go, saying " give". He hates me using my hand to hold his mouth shut, which may be making it worse.
I'm trying to video tape it and send it in, as collieman suggested, so you can see exactly what is happening.
This is one of the hardest things I've ever had to teach a dog. !!!!:dogwacko:

I really want him to learn the remote, as this will come in handy seeing I watch a lot of tv !!LOL :msnwink:


my dog hates when i 'hold' her muzzle too... she will try to move away....
but after some time, she had get used to it and now she will rather 'hold' it herself....

after your dog master the technique already, u can progress the training with the remote.... with this you can prevent your remote from suffering abuse, coz with constant dropping, i don't think it can function well later... :D


Experienced Member
It was a while coming, but I finally have some video of my boy Talin, learning to hold the remote.
First bit is testing him with other things, like one of his favourite toys. The following was very recent, to show how he has progressed.
This is after 3 weeks training, I admit missed the odd day or two, but was mostly each day for approx. 2-10 mins. It varied depending on his mood ( distractable) or mine :doghuh:

Feel free to give you advice , criticisms, and opinions.



Experienced Member
Looked good to me, though a little dark on my LCD monitor. :)

Well done for persevering. Just watch your timing with that clicker though. (Something I frequently need to remind myself of.) There seemed to be a few times where you were clicking at the point where the dog was just releasing the remote. What you don't want to end up doing is teaching the dog that it gets rewarded for dropping the object. It's a tough call, you want to see how long the dog will hold the object, and encourage it to hold it for longer and longer periods, but you don't then want to leave it so long that you end up clicking the drop part.

Though that certainly doesn't take away from the great effort that you've obviously put in. It's really paying off for you. Great work.