How To Teach Picking Up An Object
Get Your Bone
This exercise teaches your dog to search for a special chew toy, find it, and lie down and chew on it for a length of time. "Get your bone" can help prevent or minimize destructive chewing, digging, excessive barking, licking, and/or pestering people for attention. The result of this exercise is appropriate chewing, and an outlet for stress or anxiety rather than engaging in destructive behaviors. The dog learns what you want it to chew and earns the reward associated with your presence and praise.
Chewing is a normal, natural canine behavior. It is an enjoyable pastime for many dogs. Dogs chew because they are bored, they have lots of energy or they’re curious. Dogs don’t instinctively choose chew toys over rugs, furniture, shoes or other household items. They need to be taught what is okay to chew on and what is not.
How to teach "get your bone":
Start by searching with the dog while you excitedly command "get your bone!" Once found, if the dog doesn’t readily pick up the chew toy, gently offer it and encourage the dog to take it in its mouth. Praise the dog excitedly for taking it. Praise the dog excitedly and repeat the command while the dog holds the toy in its mouth: "Good dog! Get your bone! Good dog!". For the next two weeks, the "bone" becomes the dog’s reward for your attention. If the dog drops the toy, walk away and ignore the dog for a few minutes. Then repeat steps A and B. Praise the dog when you practice "get your bone" and if it has the chew toy in its mouth. Otherwise, ignore it.
Play games to excite your dog’s interest in the chew toy. Toss the toy and praise the dog for approaching it. Try calmly holding one end of the toy while the dog chews on the other end. (Avoid playing tug-of-war.) Excitedly point at the toy from a distance and run to the bone with your dog, excitedly commanding "Get your bone!"
Once your dog reliably gets the toy on command, use it to earn your praise and attention. Ask your dog to "get your bone" before being petted, being allowed to come indoors, being fed, being allowed on your lap, etc. If your dog is pestering you or your guests for attention, command your dog to "get your bone" and praise while he lies down and chews on the toy.
Eventually, direct your dog to "get your bone" a few minutes before you leave the house and insist the dog "get your bone" to earn your greeting when you return home. It is then likely that your dog will chew on the toy rather than your furniture or other household items when it gets the urge to chew in your absence. For added fun, make a hide-and-seek game out of "get your bone". Command the dog to stay. You hide the chew toy. Then tell the dog, "okay, get your bone". Praise your dog for finding it.