Saturday, March 29, 2014

Picking Up Pennies

Several months ago, I spent a fair amount of time trying to teach Isaac to pick up small, flat objects like coins and credit cards from a hard, flat surface, like a tile or concrete floor.  He has no trouble picking them up from a carpeted floor or from the grass outdoors, but from my kitchen floor, for example, he just couldn't do it.  I talked with a couple dog trainers, got some suggestions, tried them, and still had no luck.  He would try and try but couldn't do it.  So I gave up.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I was doing laundry and someone had dropped a penny on the laundry room floor.  It's a hard tile floor, like my kitchen.  In the past, I would have picked it up.  Hey, pennies add up.  But it's too hard on my back to bend over to pick up pennies these days.  Had it been a dollar bill, maybe.  A $10 bill?  Yeah, that'd be worth it.  But a penny?  No.   Of course, I could ask Isaac to pick up a dollar bill for me.  But I didn't ask him to pick up the penny because I figured he would not be able to do it.

So, while I was putting clothes into the dryer,  Isaac, without being asked, picked up that penny.

I was surprised.  I praised him enthusiastically.  He attempted to deposit the penny in my hand, and between his enthusiasm and the large amount of dog slobber lubricating the penny, it landed on the floor again.

So he picked it up again.  And that time it made it into my hand.

He just amazes me sometimes.

Today we practiced picking up quarters from my kitchen floor.  He did great.

I think tomorrow we'll try a credit card (I actually use an old phone card for practicing that skill, I don't want him gnawing on my actual credit card unless necessary).


  1. I read that pennies are toxic if a dog swallows one they can get sick from the copper .

    1. Yeah, I think that's true. I think a dog the size of Isaac would have to swallow several in order for it to be a problem, but yeah, they are definitely not a good thing for dogs to swallow.

      Isaac doesn't swallow non-food items (except for cat poop, which he thinks is food, go figure). Many service dogs are trained to pick up small items like coins. I'm not sure how they train a dog not to swallow them. But in all the time I've had Isaac, he's never eaten anything other than food (and the aforementioned cat poop). He tears stuffed animals and other toys to shreds but never eats any of it. He always spits it out. If he ever swallowed a coin or similar item when retrieving it, I'd probably be afraid to ever ask him to pick up something like that again. And I'd be on the phone to his vet right away.