The problem with marrying a really smart woman is they tend to get what they want most (aka all) of the time.
When my wife was trying to convince me that we should get a Border Collie she pulled out the ultimate trump card. “If we get a Border Collie,” she said one afternoon, “I’ll teach him to get you a beer from the fridge.” Of course we were going to get the puppy anyway but in offering this she gave me a graceful way to finally cave in to her wishes. Such is marriage. So, after a good amount of research and homework on the breed we picked up our new dog. I never really expected that I’d have a dog that got beers but it was a nice thought. How wrong I was…
The freaking Border Collie gets beer from the fridge on command. It’s awesome. My wife taught Ned how to do this in under and hour and a half. I’m not kidding. Now she had a training guide to go from which was invaluable but from start to finish it took her less than two hours. I’ll give you the basic break down. You’ll need a few things to teach this trick; an empty can, a full can, a can koozie, a towel, and lots of treats. What she did was teach the dog several small tricks and then combined them into the full deal. You’ll notice that we do things a bit out of order below. This was done because without a little variety in tricks our Border Collie got bored very fast as a puppy.
We learned this in detail from 101 Dog Tricks by Kyra Sundance who does an awesome job walking you through steps. First of all she put the koozie on the empty can and taught the dog to play fetch with it. The koozie is used to make the can more comfortable for the dog to pick up in its mouth. Toss the empty can and instead of “Fetch” use the term “Get a beer” or whatever you want the command to be.
Grab your towel and entice the dog to grab and pull on it. This step was harder than we thought but with well timed treats and some positive coaxing he got it pretty quickly. We used the simple command “Pull.”
Now get a full can with a koozie on it and place it on a low coffee table or bookshelf. Using the same command, “Get a beer” entice the dog to get the full can and bring it to you. There will be some initial hesitation due to the change in weight from the empty can but stick with it.
Next tie the towel to the fridge handle and encourage the dog to “pull” open the fridge door. This was probably the hardest point, not because the dog did not understand the command but when the door does open the first few times he got a bit skittish.
Now simply put the steps together. Let the dog see you put the can in the fridge and let him get it out of the open fridge first. To get him to close the door simply teach him to jump up on it to push it closed.
Not only is this a lot of fun but it also gives him a job (which is critical for Border Collies) when we have company. When guests arrive we casually ask the dog to go get our guests a can from the fridge. This is just one of the tricks we’ve learned to teach the dog from reading training books. There are tons of others out there and with the right instruction there is pretty much no end to the kinds of tricks they can learn, no matter the complexity!