A mainstay of most service dogs, the ability to assist the handler by picking up dropped items is always handy. Additionally, it can be used as a precursor to a retreive for those dogs who don't take to retreiving natually.
Things You'll Need
- A soft article (something interesting like a sock or toy)
- Lots of treats
- Lots of patience
Place the object on the floor and instruct the dog to "get it". Keep directing the dog's attention to the object until he/she looks at it. Once they have looked at the object, reward with praise and/or treat.
Repeat step 1 until the dog is regularly looking at the object when you point and use the command.
Now the current behaviour is molded into the desired behavior. Start by requiring more and more involvement prior to rewarding/treating the dog. First, make them move their head in that direction prior to rewarding. Then wait until they actually touch the object. Then wait until the pick up the object a few inches off the ground. Finally, wait to reward them until they place the object in your hand.
Now switch objects. One very usable object that you should always have with you is the end if the dog's leash. This way, if you ever drop the leash while carrying something, you can have the dog hand it to you without having to put down what you are carrying.