Expert Trick: Fetch me a drink from the refrigerator

The Trick:

You tell your dog to “Bring me a drink.”

They head to the kitchen and come back with a cold one just for you.

Your dog will open the fridge, pick up a drink, hold the bottle, carry it, and deliver it to your hand.

Watch the step-by-step tutorial video tutorial here: Watch Now!

The Individual Skills Required:

  • Pull (a rope) to open the fridge
  • Push with nose or paw to close the door
  • Pick up and hold an object
  • Walk and hold the object
  • Retrieve to you and place in hand
  • Be able to do skills at a distance from the handler
  • (Possibly even with the handler out of sight)

Before you start this trick

Choose your setup. You may want to consider using a mini fridge, cooler or pantry door for this trick to prevent your dog from helping themselves to your main fridge.

Example of a mini frig with a handle: Click Here

Aim for something that is at an appropriate height for your breed of dog and easy to access.

This trick has many components, so remember to go slow, train each trick individually and be patient. Only progress onto the next step when you’re confident in your dog’s understanding.

Keep training sessions short and fun, with plenty of rewards.

Step 1: Open the Refrigerator Door

Bentley pulls a rope tied to the handle of the refrigerator to open the door

Criteria: Pull on a rope to open the door

First, we want our dogs to pull a rope or toy. 

Choose a soft toy long enough to tie onto the door eventually. If your dog already loves to play tug, this will be easy. 

Start by playing tug in the room near the fridge, really encouraging your dog to pull on the rope or toy.

Alternatively, if your dog doesn’t love to play tug, they may understand the cue “Pull,” which means hold an object in your mouth and pull backward.

Once your dog is happily tugging and pulling on the toy, you can attach it to the fridge handle. Encourage your dog to interact with the toy when it’s on the door. You may need to give the toy a little wiggle to get them to play when it isn’t directly in your hand.

Mark “Yes” (or click) and reward for any interaction with the toy initially when it’s on the door, then gradually build up to having them pull back on it.

Get lots of repetitions of any interaction of pulling on the toy or rope, even if the door doesn’t yet open.

Over time you can increase your criteria to get your dog to pull harder and then Mark “yes” (or click) when they have pulled hard enough to open the door.

Top Tip: Keep the rope at your dog’s height so they keep all paws on the floor and make it easier to tug.

Consider the flooring; you may want to put a mat in front of the fridge to get more grip as your dog pulls back on the toy to avoid slipping.

Step 2: Fetch the Drink (eventually from the refrigerator)

Bentley fetches a water bottle out of the refrigerator and drops into the hand.

Criteria: Pick up a toy or water bottle and bring to me

Starting in the room next to the fridge, in a separate training session from “pull a toy,” our next criteria is to encourage our dogs to pick up a toy or object and bring it to us.

If your dog understands how to pick up and hold any object, you’ll find this step easy.

Begin by throwing a toy or object, and if your dog already understands the cue “fetch” or “bring,” you can use that to indicate that you want them to pick up the item and bring it to you.

If your dog doesn’t understand yet, you can check out the “fetch” tutorial video to teach your dog to pick up objects and bring them to you (also known as retrieving): Watch the Step-by-step Video.

When your dog is confident in picking up objects, you may want to try different items, like an empty water bottle. This can be tricky for some dogs because plastic bottles are crunchy and crinkly, which can be fun for dogs to chew down on. To make it easy for your dog, you could wrap some fabric or a soft foam cup holder to make it easier to hold.

Mark “yes” (or click) whenever your dog picks up and holds the bottle. Call them and praise them to encourage them to bring it to you. Don’t worry too much if they don’t deliver the bottle straight to your hand. Mark and reward for any attempt towards the end goal.

Once your dog picks up the bottle and brings it to you, place the bottle in the fridge and encourage your dog to “fetch” it to you. 

Top tip 1: make sure the rest of the fridge is empty so there are no other distractions and position yourself nearby to make it easy for them to get the trick right.

Start off by asking your dog to pick up the bottle from the door and pass it straight to you by staying close.

Over several training sessions, you can increase the difficulty by building up the distance between yourself and the fridge.

Do you find your dog enjoys retrieving more when the object is thrown and moving so they get to chase it? 

Some dogs can find retrieving more challenging when the object is stationary because they know to chase the toy and stop it from moving by grabbing it. If this sounds familiar, check out our video tutorial to teach your dog to “fetch”: Download Fetch Step by Step Handout.

Top tip 2: If your dog struggles with plastic bottles, it’s perhaps because they find the noise or texture a little weird, or they enjoy the chomping and crinkling. One suggestion is to try other toys and objects first to be picked up from the fridge and train the “hold a plastic bottle” separately away from this exercise to avoid confusion.

Step 3: Combining the Skills

Criteria: Open the fridge, pick up the drink and bring it to me

When your dog has a thorough understanding of the individual components, 

1. Open the fridge door 

2. Pick up the bottle and bring it to me

Most dogs are quick to chain these skills together.

Set up your training space before you bring the dog into the room or have them in a crate whilst you get ready. 

Place your bottle in the fridge and close the door, then make sure you have the rope or toy attached to the door that your dog has previously practiced with.

When your dog comes into the space, use a physical cue such as motioning your hand towards the fridge to indicate to them you want them to open the door.

Once your dog has opened the door, wait and see if they automatically go to pick up the drink too. Your dog may be awaiting the click and reward for opening the door. 

If this happens, you could gesture towards the bottle to indicate the second component, “pick up the bottle and bring it to me.”

Reward any attempts that your dog makes.

Don’t worry if they get it wrong, and maybe the bottle doesn’t come to your hand initially. Remember that you’ve increased your criteria here by asking for two behaviors, and when we increase the criteria it becomes harder for the dog so it’s ok to reward for lower expectations.

Make sure they’re getting loads of feedback with marking and rewarding their attempts before expecting the chain to be perfect.

Top tip: position yourself near the fridge door to make the retrieve part of the trick easier and set your dog up for success.

Top tip 2: If your dog doesn’t automatically go to look for the bottle in the fridge after they have opened the door, you could try marking them for opening the door and rewarding them by placing the treats in the fridge. That way, they learn that once the door is open, to put their head in the fridge because that is where the reward has come from previously.
Top tip 3: After you’ve marked or clicked for the successful chained behavior, reward by throwing the treat away from the fridge. Whilst your dog is away getting the food you can pop the bottle back in the fridge and close the door to set up for the next rep.

Step 4: Add your New Cue, “Bring (or fetch) me a Drink”

Criteria: Hear the cue, open the fridge, pick up the drink and bring it to me

Now that your dog is successfully opening the fridge door, picking up the drink and bringing it to you we want to add in our New Cue “Bring me a drink” to the chained behaviors.

Only add in your new cue once your dog has had lots of successful repetitions of the chained behaviors outlined in step 1-3.

To add a new cue, you will say the phrase that will trigger the behaviors, followed by the previous cue you had been using to indicate to the dog to pull on the rope and start the chain.

Your existing cue may be to gesture towards the fridge door to indicate to the dog to pull the rope, or whilst your dog goes through multiple repetitions, as they move towards the first step, you can say your new verbal cue.

Over time with each repetition, your dog will learn to associate hearing the phrase “bring me a drink” to indicate to them to start the chain of behaviors.

Top tip: Once your dog is consistently following the cue, opening the door, picking up the drink, and bringing it to you, now you can increase your criteria.

This may be that you start to move further away from the fridge to add in the distance between yourself, the dog, and where the tricks take place.

With each repetition, you could move a step further away or make it more challenging by turning your back to the fridge or sitting in a chair.

Then you can move the chair further away or build up to being out of sight entirely whilst your dog performs the trick.

Step 5: Close the Door

Bentley targets his paw to the refrigerator to close the door

Criteria: Use your nose or paw to close the fridge door

If your dog already understands to target with their nose or paw, you’ll progress through this step quickly.

You could use a magnet or sticky Post-it note to indicate to the dog where you want them to paw.

Starting with the fridge door closed, place your sticky note on the fridge and cue your dog to “paw” the target area.

Mark “yes” (or click) everytime they touch the target area with their paw.

Keep the target area at an easy height for your breed of dog.

After several repetitions with the door closed, open it slightly and again cue your dog to target the sticky note with their paw so that now they will close the door.

With each successful repetition, you may want to open the door wider to encourage your dog to move around with the door and paw enough times or hard enough to close the door.

Once your dog is successfully pawing at the door to close it, you can add in your new cue, “close the door,” with each repetition.

The new cue is “close the door,” old cue is “paw”.

As with the above training, you can then increase the difficulty of the trick by moving yourself further away from the fridge so your dog learns to independently head back to the fridge and close the door when they hear the cue “close the door” after they have brought you a drink.

Top tip 1: If your dog is new to targeting a magnet or sticky note but they are confident giving you a paw to hand, you can start by having the target object in your hand and ask for a paw. Then you may move your hand with the object to new places, such as the floor in front of you, and gradually move nearer to the fridge. 

Eventually, you can place the back of your hand on the fridge door and again go for several repetitions of asking for a paw still to hand with the magnet or note inside.

Over time you’ll be able to place the object your dog is targeting on to the fridge and remove your hand. 

Top tip 2: If you’re using a sticky note, you can make it smaller and smaller, so once your dog is confident with the new cue, they eventually won’t need the target object. Instead, they will understand that the new cue “close the door” means the action of closing the fridge door and not searching for the target object.

Need a little help?

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