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Teach Your Dog to Bring a Bucket

Filed in - Training Tips - Training - Dogs

Want to teach your dog to bring his bucket? It’s just another retrieve. Back-chaining is the key to making it simple.

  1. Before you begin, make sure your dog can carry his bucket or bowl. Size and shape do matter! My dogs will carry their buckets holding on to the side, as in the photo, or, occasionally, by the handle.
  2. Teach your dog to bring a bucket
  3. Start with the last part, the dog releasing the object to you. Do this in the location where you prepare his meal. Trading for food is a really, really easy way to get this behavior. Since in the end you’ll be rewarding the bucket-bring by filling it, it also makes sense!
  4. What if your dog does not take the object to start? Shape for interaction with the bucket until you get mouthing, and build from there. Note that some dogs have an aversion to metal. Laev never had this handicap; I have photos of her tiny littermates playing tug with pinch collars and handcuffs. However, Shakespeare learned to overcome the aversion with judicious application of tasty reinforcers.
  5. Move your hand away a smidge (that’s a technical term). and click for the dog moving the bucket toward it. The dog will release the bucket to take his treat; that’s fine.
  6. Lower the bucket to the floor, in increments, and let the dog take the bucket from you and push it toward you.
  7. Have the dog lift the bucket from the floor to your hand.
  8. Put the bucket a step away from you, so the dog must lift the bucket, step forward, and deliver.
  9. Extend the distance, until the dog is picking up the bucket and bringing it to wherever you prepare his meal.

That is probably the world’s briefest training plan! As with all shaping, remember to achieve 80% success at each step before moving to the next. Next you can attach a cue to the finished behavior.

Bonus: Let your dog bring this bucket full of candy to your Trick or Treaters. Yours will be the coolest house on the block, hands down!

About the author
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Laura VanArendonk Baugh, CPDT, KPACTP, started playing with animals at an early age and never grew out of it. She owns Canines In Action, Inc. in Indianapolis, where she lives with her tolerant husband and her dobermans. Laura is also a Karen Pryor Academy faculty member.