Teaching The Take Hold and Give Commands

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Teaching The Take Hold and Give Commands

by Michael Russell

To train the dog to "take, hold and give" an article, prepare first of all a number of tasty treats. These treats should be something he finds extremely good, such as small chunks of cheddar cheese or nuked hot dogs, something that is a "special" treat that he doesn't often get. Next, have a number of articles ready that you will use for the dog to hold in his mouth. Depending on the dog, your choice of articles is important. If your dog loves "stuffies" then use bumper toys for the articles, these are soft and large and easy for him to hold onto and will be something he naturally wants to hold. If you dog is a tennis ball freak, then get ready a number of rubber balls. Caution: do not use tennis balls if he is truly a tennis ball freak and won't want to give them up. Basically try to pick an article that the dog will WANT to carry in his mouth.

Sit down with the dog in front of you and put him on a sit/stay. Put one of the items into his mouth as you say "take". If it is already an item that the dog will want to carry, this makes this task much easier. If he doesn't want to open his mouth and take the article, then encourage him to take the article into his mouth by "teasing" him with it. You can also have a pre treated article that has a food smell impregnated into the article, by rubbing it with the flavor first. You can, if necessary, open his mouth by pinching behind the incisors and physically put the article into his mouth, although this is seldom necessary. Once the article is in his mouth, gently hold his muzzle shut for a period of three to five seconds, telling him "hold". Praise him and pet him while he holds the article, saying "good hold" as he holds it in his mouth. Then, ask him to "give" and take the article back out from his mouth. If necessary, pinch behind the incisors again, this forces him to open his mouth. Pet him, give him a treat for a job well done and do this whole sequence again.

This exercise should be repeated at least 5-15 times the first day and every day thereafter or at least until you have done this at least 10-15 times on separate occasions. Once the dog will definitely "take" the item from your hand, then place the article on the floor or elsewhere and instruct him to "take" and then to "hold". The main idea is to continue to do this little training exercise frequently until you can say for certain that 90 per cent of the time your dog will eagerly take an article into his mouth, hold it for a minute or so and then give it up to you. When he begins to hold the item for a minute or so, you can stop holding his muzzle at all. And of course, when he begins to release the article to you on command, you will no longer need to pinch his mouth to make him give it up to you. Be patient. This is not something that can be taught over night and you may need to refresh the dog on this exercise every so often after he has learned it. As he learns the "hold" be sure to gradually stretch out the length of the hold over a longer period of time. Later on, this command will be very necessary if you want him to travel any distance while he is holding the article.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Dog Training

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