Okay, in case you need a little help with training this one – here’s the shaping steps I am using. Dan is pretty good at grabbing things when asked because we’ve practice that in the past so we are focusing on the last few steps involving the build up of duration.
Target Behavior: When I hold an item out and say “Hold it”, Dan will grab it with his mouth and hold on until released.
- Choose one item to begin the training with. Ideally it will be something that is easy for your dog to hold in his mouth, perhaps even a toy that he is used to picking up.
- Hold the item out and if your dog moves towards it click/treat.
- Next wait for an open mouth reach towards the item before you click/treat OR a sniff, lick, nudge if you can’t get the open mouth right away. The idea is that he needs to interact with the item at least a little. (No more than 3-4 interactions that aren’t closely related to grabbing with his mouth.)
- You should easily be able to move from open-mouth reach to actually closing his mouth on the object. Click/treat for mouth closing.
- Now you’ve got the grabbing part! Next build duration. Wait to click until he has held onto the object for a second or two.
- Slowly build up duration a few seconds at a time until you reach your goal. As you build the duration, it can help to sometimes go back and do a shorter duration so that it isn’t too predictable for your dog.
- Now add the cue “Hold it. Begin by saying the cue when you present the object. Click/treat for a hold behavior (at least a few seconds)
- Finally – repeat with lots of different objects! Sometimes you might have to go all the way back to step one, but other times you might be able to jump right to step 7. It depends on your dog’s history with holding things and the type/texture of object (among many other variables).