Tricks for Treats: Step-by-Step

In honor of Halloween, here are instructions for training your dog to carry your trick-or-treat bag (or purse). In order to learn this “trick”, your dog must already know the “take it” command. A local trainer can help you with this and many other rudimentary training exercises. – Ed.

Our office neighbors no longer do double-takes when Chalcy and I arrive at work, me with my backpack and Chalcy carrying my purse. It’s one of the many ways each day in which she proves herself a “good girl” and earns my praise or other reward. Trick training does more than teach cute party tricks to entertain your friends – it helps you and your dog understand each other better. The trust and cooperative spirit developed in the process will last a lifetime. Whether your dog is young or old, athletic or lazy, quick-witted or rather slow – his success need only be measured in your eyes. I hope the following inspires you not only to teach tricks, but to “Do More With Your Dog!®”

– Kyra Sundance & Chalcy

 

Teach It

Your little helper will carry your purse or bag (including the trick-or-treat kind) as you walk.

Knot the straps of your purse or bag, so your dog won’t become entangled. Put a handful of treats inside and close it.

 

Hand your purse to your dog and have him take it.

Walk a few steps while telling him to “carry” and patting your leg to indicate he should come with you. If he drops the purse, do not pick it up but rather point to it and instruct him again to “take it.” Your dog should only be allowed to release the purse to your hand and should not merely drop it on the floor.

Praise your dog as you take the purse and give him a treat from inside. When he realizes treats are inside the purse, he will be less likely to abandon it if he gets bored.

What to expect: Retrieving breeds naturally enjoy walking around with things in their mouths and will likely be carrying your purse within a week.

 

Troubleshooting

My dog won’t take the purse or he immediately drops it,

If your dog is willing to take other objects, the issue may be with this particular purse. Dogs resist some textures, such as metal or embellishments, and smells, including perfumes and cigarettes. Leather purses are a favorite. 

 

My dog sometimes drops the purse as we walk.

Once your dog has been charged with carrying your purse, he is responsible for it until you accept it back. Sometimes, your dog will put it down for a minute to swallow or scratch – do not judge too harshly, but insist that he pick it back up.

 

My dog chews the purse.

Hunting breeds are bred for soft mouths, while other breeds may be more prone to chewing. With any dog, you’re probably going to get some teeth marks on your purse eventually. Try to think of them as “character marks”!

 

My dog tries to get the treats out of my purse himself.

The treats need to be inaccessible. Try a zippered pouch.

Excerpted from 101 Dog Tricks by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy, with photography by Nick Saglimbeni. Copyright © Quarry Books 2007. For more information about Kyra and Chalcy, visit www.chalcy.com.