“Hey, Rover, fetch me a beer.” – Part One

Sadie brings the beer.
Sadie brings the beer.

Isn’t it time your four-legged friend earned his keep? On Game Day, let that roving carpet called a dog fetch you a cold one from the fridge while you remain comfortably enthroned in your vinyl recliner in full blast-off position. It’s the next best thing to having a built in cooler in the armrest.

How to teach your dog to fetch you a beer.

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Typical box clicker

This week we’ll start by charging the training clicker. You can find a training clicker at most pet stores. It’s a little plastic box the size of your thumb with a metal tab inside that when pressed makes a sharp clicking sound.

You’ll need treats too. You’ll want them small so they can be gobbled fast, and you don’t want them creating a lot of crumbs when eaten. You want Rover focused on you when learning to fetch beer, not vacuuming the floor like a wet-vac with his tongue.

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RedBarn meat rolls

I use Redbarn Meat Rolls. It’s a soft dog food that comes in three flavors, lamb, chicken, and beef. All three work well. It has a strong smell most dogs like that is similar to beef jerky. It looks like a big salami and I cut it up into little cubes. The benefits of using an actual food over a bag of treats are that it’s more economical and has a higher nutritional value.

Charging the Clicker

Click the clicker.

Give Rover the small treat that leaves no crumbs that he can eat fast.

Repeat this about fifteen times for the next few days, or until Rover gets that look in his eyes that tells you he’s expecting a treat when he hears the click.

That’s it.

Things to consider when charging the clicker and its use in general.

Karen Pryor clicker
Karen Pryor clicker

If Rover is easily startled by sounds, be sure not to click the clicker near his face, hold it behind your back instead. If he’s really sensitive to sounds, you can soften the sound of the click by putting the clicker in your pocket or inside a sock. Karen Pryor offers a button clicker that is quieter than the box clickers and is easily clicked while in your pocket or a sock.

While charging the clicker, don’t ask Rover to do anything. Don’t ask him to sit or lie down in order to get the treat. Just click and give him the treat. But be sure to position yourself and the treat so that Rover isn’t jumping on you or doing something obnoxious to get to the treat.

Once Rover understands that the sound of the clicker means a treat is on its way, he’ll figure out that he’s causing the clicks by what he’s doing and he’ll do more of it. So avoid clicking to get his attention because whatever he’s doing when you click is what you’re asking him to do more of.

Lastly, always follow the click with a treat. Clicking without treating drains the charge.

Kids love the clicker. They like to run around the house clicking it repeatedly. This completely depletes the charge. Hide it from your kids.

Next, we’ll teach Rover “Touch,” and apply it to closing the fridge door because closing the fridge is equally important to opening it, otherwise it’s, “Warm beer, anyone?”

Link to Part Two

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