Teach your lab how to get beer
Duke get me a beer!
Dog. Man’s best friend, but if you can teach your friendly Fido to fetch you a cold beverage from the refrigerator, he becomes much more that just a best friend. Ask your wife (or husband) to bring you a cold beer while you are sitting in the Lazy Boy watching the game. What kind of reaction did you get? A DOG wants nothing more than to please his master.
So how can Rover add this handy little trick to his collection of skills? It’s all about breaking it down into separate little steps, repetition, reward, and then linking it all together.
First of all, it is helpful if you have a dog that likes to carry things in its mouth. Any dog will do that, within limits, but some may take a little more coaxing. Any Labrador or retriever or hunting dog with a soft mouth (grip) can learn this trick. Mine was a black Lab.
This is step one, playing fetch. Use a tennis ball or his favorite toy and make sure your dog will pick it up in his mouth. If it won’t, place it in his mouth and then reward him with a snack. Repeat until you can set the object on the ground and Spot will pick it up. It then thinks “hey, if I pick this up I get a snack”. Replace the object with an empty beer (or you favorite beverage) can. Keep working at it, introducing the can only occasionally at first until he gets the idea, then use only the can. Don’t give the reward immediately, but make sure he will hold the can long enough to bring it too you from some distance away. A good distance would be ….say, the distance from your couch to your refrigerator. Here is the test. Place a can on the floor, bottom side up (unless you don’t have issues with dog slobber in your beer), next to your refrigerator. Sit on the couch with Goldy nearby awaiting your command. Point to the can and tell him “get me a beer”. If you and your new soul mate are successful move on to the next step. A retriever should have no problem with this step but it could take several days with a different type of dog.
Ok, so now Duke will fetch a can of beer, but how do you get him to open the refrigerator door. Start with a rope. Get him to tug on it. When you have that, tie the rope to the fridge door handle and while still holding it in your hand get him to tug again. Once the door opens give him a snack. Clear of the bottom shelf in the fridge door, you won’t want any beef roasts or left over lasagna there for what comes next. Place the snack on the bottom door shelf and close the door. Get him to open the door, and point out the snack. Once he finds the snack and eats it, repeat this process until he has it down. You are almost there! But don't forget to leave the rope tied to the door.
Replace the snack in the door with the beer can and repeat the process. You may have to encourage Maxy boy to grab the can, because he will be looking for the snack when he gets the door open, so have a snack hidden in your hand ready to feed once he does grab the can. Now repeat and repeat all the steps linked together until he has it.
Gradually move away from the fridge so that when he gets the can he will bring it to you. Keep stepping back until you are seated on your throne in front of the television. You may need to walk with him to guide him though the steps again when you issue the “get me a beer” command the first several times. Soon your dog Skippy will be bringing you your favorite beverage.
But wait! Ringo left the fridge door open when he brought your beverage. Just tell him to “close the door”. To teach that, just place a little snack on the floor, between the fridge and the open door, be sure it is not open too widely at first. Put him on the other side of the door and point out the treat. He will nudge the door to get the snack and it will close. Repeat, repeat, repeat, then add it to the end of the routine and repeat the whole thing.
Enjoy, drink in moderation, and only water for Mr. Blackie please!