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How to teach your dog to find your keys in 8 simple steps

It turns out playing tug isn’t just an awful lot of fun - it can be used as a foundation to teach dogs to do many other meaningful tasks.

Check out this video of an adorable young assistance dog learning to help their human with opening doors, removing socks, and other items of clothing. 

Assistance dogs are taught to do lots of helpful tasks to assist their humans in day to day life. But did you know you can teach your dog to help you out too? 

Tug-E-Nuff partners Gemma and Jamie Pound of UK Sniffer Dogs have shared with us an ace training tutorial to help you teach your dog to find your keys. 


How to teach your dog to find your keys 

Here’s a step by step training plan from Gemma and Jamie, on how to teach your dog to find your keys using the Tug-E-Nuff keyring. 

Step 1: Add the Tug-E-Nuff keyring to your keys 

Step 2: Initiate play (tug) with your dog with the keyring or a Bright Fauxtastic tuggy. Let your dog win the game and then encourage them to engage with a second keyring/Bright Fauxtastic tuggy. Repeat the game and let your dog win before switching play from one keyring/toy to another. 

Step 3: Throw the keys out and let your dog chase after them. When your dog picks up the keys, encourage them back to you verbally and physically by moving backwards and away from them. 

When your dog comes back to you, encourage them to drop the keys by initiating play with your Bright Fauxtastic tuggy. Reward with play or a treat depending on what works best for your dog. 

Step 4: Hold your dog by their collar or harness, throw the keys out and let them land. 

Once your keys have landed, send your dog to retrieve the keys. When your dog picks them up encourage them back to you and encourage them to drop by initiating play with the your Bright Fauxtastic tuggy. 

Step 5: Repeat steps 2-4 in different environments Start at home where it’s easy for your dog to succeed, progress to your garden and then to different places out on walks. 

Please take safety precautions for your dog in new places. You can use a longline in more distracting environments for your dog to maintain safety if recall is hit and miss. 

Step 6: Pretend to lose your keys and pop them on the ground somewhere in your chosen environment. Start at a short distance away from the keys such as 5 metres so you’re making it easy for your dog to succeed. 

Send your dog to search for the keys and watch them work using their nose and sight to locate the keys. As before, encourage your dog back to you once they find your keys and reward them with either a game of tuggy or treats. 

Step 7: Repeat Step 6 increasing the distance in which you send your dog to search from the location of the keys. 

Step 8: Repeat step 6 and 7 in different locations. When moving to a new environment, it’s recommended that you go back to a few repetitions of step 3 and 4 so your dog doesn’t find it too difficult to complete the task! 

Safety advice

Please note: Our Tug-E-Nuff keyrings are not designed to be used as tug toys which is why we recommend using a Bright Fauxtastic to reward your dog and exchange for the keyring. 

The Bright Fauxtastic features exactly the same materials as the fluffy keyring, but it’s been designed especially for tug - making it safe and durable for your dog to tug on with all their might! 

A big thank you to Gemma and Jamie for sharing this fabulous training tutorial with us. If you liked this, you might like to read their beginner’s guide to scent training here. 

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