Garbageman? Try Garbagedog! An environmentally-responsible dog owner in the UK trained his dog, Lucky, to collect trash in their local parks. If he locates glass, though, instead of trying to pick up potentially dangerous shards, Lucky barks twice to alert his owner. Not only does Lucky pick up the garbage he finds, he also tosses it in the nearest trash can.
Lucky’s owner William Keating said in an online interview, “I don’t understand why people throw litter away because if a dog can put it into a bin then so can they.”
Click here for a gallery of photos showing Lucky on the job in a local park.
Try it with your dog! Teach your dog “take it” or “pick up” with his favorite toy.
- Offer him the toy while you say “take it.”
- When he mouths the toy, immediately praise him (or click if your dog is clicker-trained) and give him a treat. Repeat for a few minutes.
- After a handful of successful repetitions, place the toy on the floor in front of your dog. Point at the toy and repeat the “take it” command. If he picks it up, immediately praise (or click) and give him a treat.
- When he’s successfully picking up his favorite toy, try increasing the distance between your dog and his toy – or, maintain a short distance, but replace the toy with a less desirable object.
- Practice a little bit each day, slowly increasing the distance and the variety of objects. However, during each session only increase the difficulty by one notch – for example, move his favorite toy a foot away from your dog, or switch the toy for a less-interesting one, but keep it right in front of him.
- Training tip: Only train for three to five minutes at a time and no more than three times per day. Otherwise your dog may get bored or frustrated.
Once he’s mastered “take it,” incorporate the “drop it” command by exchanging the toy for a treat. Just like teaching “take it,” increase the distance incrementally, and slowly work toward your dog dropping the object into a trash can. And remember: Just because he’ll put his favorite toy in a can at home, doesn’t mean he’ll go straight to the park and perform the same behaviors. Work up to that slowly with a lot of patience.