Training a Dog to Open a Dresser and Fetch Socks Without Using Food Lures, AKA Bribes

By Gaby Dufresne-Cyr, CBT-FLE

Broholmer dog breed holding socks

Training a dog to open a dresser and fetch socks without using food lures requires patience, consistency, and excellent shaping skills. Understanding learning theories such as behaviourism and social cognitive learning is fundamental to the process. The following steps are general guidelines; each successive approximation might require you to break down the behaviours into smaller steps.

Step-by-step Procedure to Train Your Dog to Fetch Shocks From a Dresser.

1. Choose the Right Dog and Socks: Ensure your dog has basic obedience skills and is comfortable with training sessions. Select socks that are safe for your dog to handle and are distinguishable from other items.

2. Familiarize Your Dog with the Socks: Introduce the socks to your dog in a positive manner. Let them sniff and investigate the socks to create a positive association. Reinforce any interaction with the socks with a food reward (R+) or mini-play session.

3. Teach Basic Commands: Ensure your dog understands basic commands like sit, stay, and fetch before proceeding. Use positive reinforcement techniques such as food, praise, toys, or playtime as rewards.

4. Introduce the Dresser: Place the dresser in an area where your dog is comfortable and can easily access it. Allow your dog to explore the dresser under supervision and R+ for positive interactions.

5. Associate the Dresser with Socks: Place the socks in an open drawer or on top of the dresser. Encourage your dog to approach the dresser and interact with the socks. R+ positive interaction with food, praise, or play.

6. Teach the Open Command: Train your dog to open the dresser drawer by associating the action with a verbal cue, such as open. Start by gently guiding your dog's paw or nose to pull the drawer open. R+ for any attempts to open the drawer.

7. Reinforce the Behaviour: Repeat the open command and encourage your dog to open the drawer independently. Gradually reduce your assistance until your dog can open the drawer reliably on command.

8. Add the Fetch Command: Once your dog is comfortable opening the dresser drawer, introduce the fetch command. Place the socks inside the drawer and instruct your dog to fetch them. R+ successful retrievals with treats, praise, or play.

9. Practice Regularly: Consistent practice is essential for reinforcing the desired behaviour. Incorporate short training sessions into your daily routine to keep your dog engaged and motivated during training.

10. Generalize the Skill: Gradually generalize the behaviour by practicing in different locations and with different types of socks. This helps your dog understand that the command applies in various situations.

11. Troubleshoot Challenges: If your dog struggles with any step, break the task into smaller, more manageable parts. Use positive reinforcement to encourage progress and address any obstacles calmly.

12. Patience and Persistence: Remember that every dog learns at their own pace. Stay patient and consistent throughout the training process, and celebrate each small success along the way.

By following these steps and using positive reinforcement techniques, you can train your dog to open a dresser and fetch socks without relying on food lures. 

Have Fun!

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