This might seem like a trick you’d see Lassie or some other ridiculously well trained movie star dog do, but fetching a beer from the fridge is actually very achievable for most dogs.
Humans have been developing the retrieving skills of dogs for a long time. They have been retrieving downed fowl, nets, and toys for us for as long as we’ve called them best friends.
This means there is no reason our four-legged buddies can’t bring us goodies from the fridge!
And while you might start with a soda or beer, you can teach a retrieve (or as we call it in the industry, a “service dog retrieve”) with any safe object. So while you might not personally like soda or beer, you could teach this with snacks or sweet tea, y’all.
We’ll provide you with a step by step guide on how to teach your dog to retrieve items from the fridge below.
Teaching Your Dog to Fetch a Beer: Key Takeaways
- Teaching a dog to fetch a beer or soda is essentially the same as teaching him to fetch anything else. However, because this specific task requires your dog to do several different things, you’ll have to break your lessons down into multiple smaller steps.
- Before you get started, you’ll want to make sure your dog is a good candidate for learning this skill. For example, you’ll need to determine if your doggo is big enough to carry a beer, and you’ll also want to think about your dog’s tendency to get into mischief.
- Teaching your dog to fetch a beer is actually pretty beneficial. Obviously, the actual beer-fetching part is just a novelty, but by using positive reinforcement during the training, you’ll help improve the bond between you and your pooch.
Questions to Consider: Should You Teach Your Dog to Fetch from the Fridge?
Before we dive explain how to teach your dog to fetch a beer from the fridge, you do need to ask yourself a few questions about whether this is a good skill for your dog to know:
Is my dog large enough?
This is just simple physics; your dog has to be large enough to open the fridge and bring a beer (or something else) to you.
I love my chihuahua, but he could never get enough leverage to get the fridge open. Most dogs need to be about 40 pounds or so to be able to get a fridge door open.
Keep the weight of the can in mind too! My Yorkie mix is only 3.6 pounds. A 12-ounce can of any liquid will weigh about ¾ of a pound, so this is probably a bit much for my pooch!
In these cases, just accommodate your pooch by training him to grab a bag of chips or something equally light.
Is my dog’s breed a problem?
Along with the size factor, there is the breed predisposition factor to consider too. Dogs with the word “retriever” at the end of their name are genetically more inclined to pick things up and hand them to us.
However, I’m a big believer in seeing the individual, not the breed. After all, a breed is just a label. Humans have inaccurate labels too. I’m blonde and I’m no fun at all!
So, consider your dog’s breed to get an idea of how easy it’ll be for him to learn this skill, but don’t let the fact that your French bulldog is not a “French retriever” stop you.
Does my dog tend to get into stuff already?
Remember, once you teach your dog a skill, he may use it whether or not you ask.
Are you okay with a dog who now knows how to get into the fridge? Or are you willing to always take the tug rope off of the fridge and only put it on when you actively want him to present this skill?
Bottom line: This may not be the best skill to teach mischievous mutts.
If you’ve considered these factors and have given yourself the green light for training, read on!
Teaching Your Dog to Fetch a Beer from the Fridge: Things You’ll Need
Now that you know your dog is a good canine candidate for learning to fetch things from the fridge, you’ll need to gather a few items before you get started.
- The item you want your dog to fetch, in this case a soda or beer (note that cans will be safer than glass bottles).
- A handle to attach to the fridge. Ideally, this should be something easy for him to grab with his mouth, like a rope or cloth.
- Training treats
- Plenty of patience and dedication
Got these things ready? Awesome! Let’s get started.
Teaching Your Dog to Fetch a Beer: The Training Process
Let’s begin by breaking this skill down for a moment.
Retrieving something from the fridge is a multi-step process. Your dog has to know how to open the fridge, how to grab the item, how to close the fridge, and how to give you the item.
It seems simple in theory, but each of those steps is a skill in and of itself.
You will need to train your doggo to perform each skill individually, then tie them together into one larger task.
It’s a big goal, but once you’ve trained it your guests will be so impressed!
Plus, you could get a cute butler outfit for your dog to wear and ask him to bring your things.
Step One: Pick Up The Item
Start by desensitizing your dog to the item you want him to grab. For some dogs this will be a quick process, and for others you will need to spend time on this.
Specifically for soda or beer cans, since they are made out of a slick surface and a lot of dogs don’t like to put that in their mouths, you will either have to slowly acclimate him to that, or accommodate him by making it easier for him to mouth.
You can do this by leaving the soda or beer on those plastic holder things they come in. Many dogs prefer to grab these rather than the actual cans or bottles. Either way, you will need to spend time teaching your dog to pick up the item, and hold it in his mouth.
Do this by giving your pooch treats every time he voluntarily touches the object with his mouth.
Soon, you can start tightening the criteria and waiting to reward him until he actually picks up the item.
Once he masters this, start requiring him to hold it for a few seconds before providing him with positive reinforcement.
Once your dog is happy and confident carrying the item around, you know he’s desensitized.
Step Two: Bring Me the Item
The next step is teaching your dog to retrieve the item and put it in your hand. This is also known as a “service dog retrieve.”
Ideally, your dog should already have some experience retrieving items via games of fetch. If your dog hasn’t mastered the game of fetch yet, start there while also establishing a solid “drop it” command.
If your dog is already really pretty great at giving you items, this should be a fast training session. You’ll just want to connect it to a verbal command or hand signal.
If your dog needs a little help understanding that you want him to put the item all the way in your hand, rather than dropping it at your feet or playing keep away, then take it slow.
Teaching Your Dog to Retrieve the Can
- Put the can near you on the floor and ask him to grab it or take it. When he does, praise him, and hold out your hand. If he brings the can anywhere remotely near your hand, reinforce him with a treat.
- Slowly but surely, you’ll be able to get more specific until he is able to put the can in your hand every time.
- Once he can reliably drop the can in your hand, start increasing the distance between you and the can.
Traditionally my goal is to set the object (a can in this case) at least 12 feet away from me, and have my dog travel that entire distance to give me the object.
When your dog can reliably grab the can, carry it a significant distance back to you, and then hand you the can, you can consider this part of the skill trained.
Don’t work on the next part until this looks rock solid.
Step Three: Take The Item Off the Shelf
Start by clearing off one of the shelves in your fridge so the options are easy for your dog. Then put the can on the shelf.
Teaching Your Dog to Get the Can From the Fridge
- Show him the can. Open the fridge door for your dog and point out to him that the can you’ve been working with is in there.
- Ask him to hand it to you, in whatever fashion you’ve been doing previously. In other words, say “Get it” or “Take it” or maybe “Get me a beer!”.
- If he tries at all — even if he just looks at the can — reinforce his effort with praise and treats. He’ll eventually get the idea that you want the can and try to grab it. Most dogs have a learning curve with this, so just be patient.
- Keep practicing this way until your dog is happy and confident grabbing the can off the shelf, and handing it to you.
Step Four: Open the Fridge
You’ll want to make it easy for your dog to open the fridge.
So, find a rope or cloth your dog likes putting in his mouth, which is long enough that he can reach it when it’s tied to the fridge door.
But before you tie it to the fridge, you need to teach him to grab the “tug object” and pull on it quite hard.
It is usually easiest to teach this by starting off with a tug of war session with you.
Teaching the Open-The-Fridge Action
- Hold out the tug item and praise him once he bites on to it. Play some tug-tug-tug with him and then ask him to release it or drop it. As always, reinforce him with a treat once he completes the task.
- Add the verbal cue. When your dog is really into it, tie a verbal cue onto the action of pulling hard. Personally, I like to say “Pull! Pull! Pull!” So, when I’ve brought out the tug object and my dog is amped up and ready to get to tuggin’, I’ll say “PULL! PULL!” while we’re tugging. Then, tell him to “Drop it”, and reward him with a treat and scritches.
- Tie the toy to the fridge. When your dog can reliably yank on the tug object when you say “Pull!” you are ready to tie it to the fridge door.
As you first start teaching your doggo to pull while the object is tied to the fridge door, start with the fridge door already slightly open — this will make it easier and help build his confidence.
You will need to build up to your dog pulling it when it is magnetized shut, which requires a lot of umph.
So the rope is tied, the door is slightly ajar, and you ask your dog to “Pull!” If he grabs, noses, or even looks at the rope/tug object at all, reinforce his attempt with the good stuff (treats, pets, and praise).
This is all really new so he might be baffled. As he starts realizing that you want him to pull on the rope with it tied to the fridge, he’ll get more enthusiastic.
For each pulling session reinforce with treats. Slowly let the fridge door become more and more shut. Eventually building to the point where he can open it from being totally shut.
Step Five: Close the Fridge Door
The next step is to teach your dog to push the fridge door closed. I use “Push” as the cue.
It’s the opposite of the pull skill, and the second to last step in the chain of events. It’s the last thing we have to train though, since we’ve already done all the foundation work.
Train your dog to close the fridge by using a nose target, such as a piece of duct tape or Post-It note.
Basically, you teach your dog to push his nose against a specific target, and he’ll get a treat. Then you transfer the target to the door of the fridge.
Teaching the “Push” Action to Close the Fridge
- Start by working with a target. To start out, you hold the target (be it a post-it note or a piece of tape) in your non-dominant hand. If your dog even looks at the target, reinforce him with a treat.
- Ask him to touch the target. After your dog looks at the target successfully a few times, ramp up your expectations and require him to touch the target with his nose before he gets the treat. Then, increase the amount of pressure he must apply before getting a treat.
- Move the target into the fridge door. Once your dog understands the target concept, you simply move the target to whatever it is you’re wanting him to close — the fridge door in this case. Apply the target to the fridge door, bring him over, and wait for him to touch it. Reinforce with praise and a treat once he does.
- Add your cue word. As he gets faster at this, start using the word “Push!”
- Begin working with an open fridge. All of this has been happening with the fridge door already closed. When your dog is fast and confident, and he is touching the fridge every time you ask, open the door slightly and let him try again.
Get him closing the fridge door from being open a few inches, a quarter of the way, half way, so on and so forth until he can close the door via pushing from all the way open.
Putting All The Steps Together
Now that he knows all the individual steps necessary for fetching you a beer, he should be ready to put it all together into one chain of skills.
Just put one skill after another, and give the following sequence of cues:
- “Pull” — Ask your dog to pull to open the fridge. You should be right there with him in the beginning, next to the fridge.
- “Grab it,” “Take it,” or “Get it” — Give your pooch whatever phrase you’ve used to have him pick up the can (point towards the can you want while doing so).
- “Hand it to me” (or whatever command phrase you chose) — Encourage him to hand you the beer, just like you’ve practiced all those times.
- “Push” — Ask him to close the fridge door behind himself after he’s handed you the can.
At this point, you’ll want to reward your floof while enjoying your own reward for your efforts!
Polishing Your Pupper’s Skills
As your dog gets better at all of the steps, you can start increasing your distance from the fridge. Keep your dog close to the fridge while you back up a few feet at a time.
Do this until you can get him to do the sequence without you needing to be right there.
When your dog can do the whole sequence starting by the fridge while you’re standing a good 10 feet away, you can start building his initial distance from the fridge as well.
I do this by going close to the fridge again. Keep your pooch close, but not quite as close as before — say 3 or so feet away.
Ask your dog to pull, grab it, hand it to me, and push the door closed. As he starts traveling that extra few feet, he’ll start generalizing quickly, and you should be able to sit on the sofa and get your drink brought to you by Fido in no time!
Don’t name the entire skill until it looks 100% what you want it to look like. In other words, you don’t want to start cuing “Get me a beer!” until he can run to the fridge, open it, grab the can off the shelf, bring you the can, put it in your hand, and run back to close the fridge door reliably.
When he can do that when you only gesture towards the fridge and start with “Pull,” then tie a new cue to the routine. Say: “Get me a beer,” followed by “Pull!”
Voila! Skill taught, doggo happy, and you are ready to enjoy a cold beverage!
Benefits to Teaching Your Dog How to Fetch a Beer or Soda
Honestly, there aren’t many benefits to teaching your dog to fetch a beer, but there are massive benefits to teaching your dog to perform a service dog retrieve. Really, all positive reinforcement based training has benefits.
First and foremost, the service dog retrieve is a complex skill that takes time and dedication to instill. This means you’ll have to work closely with your doggo for an extended period of time.
Working together with your dog this way can be highly rewarding for both of you. It also gives you a lot of bonding time.
Positive training of any sort is mentally enriching for dogs, and the concept of “sharing” (AKA handing us things) can be very valuable.
I train this skill to any dog who has resource guarding issues, as it builds a level of trust that I will always give something in return for something they give me.
It means I’m not a “taker” and therefore helps with resource stress a dog might have.
The service dog retrieve specifically can be really helpful, and applied to other areas of our lives. My grandmother’s mobility is low at this point, and I regularly will have my dogs get things for her so she doesn’t have to struggle to bend over or get up.
It also lightens her day to see my dog bringing her a snack, her slippers, or a tissue.
I understand why too! It’s cute looking, and endearing — not to mention impressive.
Just make sure you don’t share with your pup — although they can enjoy their own non-alcoholic dog beer alongside your adult beverage!
Teaching Your Dog to Fetch a Beer: FAQs
“Get me a beer,” “Fetch,” and basic service dog retrieves tend to bring up a lot of training questions. We’ll try to answer some of them here, but if you have any questions that we didn’t answer, let us know in the comments!
When can dogs learn to retrieve?
You can start teaching a dog to retrieve as early as 8 weeks of age, as long as you are using positive reinforcement methods.
Of course the specific skill of carrying a soda or beer can, or opening the fridge door? But I’d wait until my pup was well out of adolescence to teach him to specifically carry a beer or open the fridge door.
It’s a big responsibility, and a physically challenging task. But you can train it with lighter and easier items right away!
Can all dogs learn to retrieve?
Yes! Absolutely all dogs can learn to retrieve! Some dogs might be naturally better at it, but any dog with enough support, positive reinforcement, and patience from his handler can learn to retrieve.
Is fetching a beer hard to teach a dog?:
I don’t think teaching a dog to fetch a beer is hard, per se. More like time-consuming and requires a good deal of dedication.
It’s a multistep process and is a relatively “big” concept for a dog. But with enough treats and giddy up you can get it done.
Is it OK to teach your dog to fetch a beer?
Yes! It is OK to teach your dog to fetch a beer. Just be sure to carefully consider whether he should have access to the fridge all the time.
Teaching your dog to fetch an item out of the fridge can be a really fun process. Not to mention so rewarding when the skill is complete.
Have you tried to teach your dog to fetch a beer? Tell us about your successes or speed bumps along the way in the comments below! Or better yet! Tag us in a video posted to social media!