I would like to teach Bella to put away her own toys, but I'm not certain how as it is a mult-step trick. First she needs to learn to get her toys (something she is working on), then she would need to learn to put them in her toy box (and hopefully not grab another two toys once that is done, but that is another lesson). Has anyone done this and if so, how did you go about it?
I'm not a big fan of clicker training (partly because I misplace just about everything and would probably have to buy 20 clickers a month) and prefer voice or hand signal commands. But I guess if I'm using the same word command it would work the same a the clicker training? I'll look into it.
I think my biggest problem will be getting Bella to leave her toys in her box. Right now she gets upset when she sees me picking up her toys and runs to the box to grab them back out. But the good thing is she will bring them back inside on command!
By the looks of your post your a bit confused on what clicker training is. A click is a conditioned predicator that something good is coming. it's not a command. If I hit a bell every time I gave you a dollar. Everytime you heard a bell you'd look around for a buck. So when we talk of dogs clicker training is not a different form of learning. There are only 2 forms. operant and classical conditioning. Clicker training is operant and classical conditioning combined. First the click is paried with something good (classical) and then the clicks are givin when the dog performs, these things are operant. So, What I do after my dogs know what the click means. I will do things like waiting from them to sit. when they sit, I will click (I do not use a clicker, I use the word okay, It's the means the same thing to the dog) The dog will start to offer sit more. I will then put the command sit to it.
The click is just a way to communicate to the dog, you did right, click, here is your treat. This prevents all sorts of problems. your timing just has to be good. If you ever notice that your dog will follow your hand into your pocket when go and get a treat. this is the same thing. The dog knows your hand going into the pocket is a predicator of a treat.
If you want to learn more. There is a book how dogs learn. Its all about the science of learning and teaching dogs. it's not biased to anyone method. it just describes the theories they are based on.
So to teach this dog to put toys away. I would teach it back wards. I would teach the dog to drop the toys in the basket first. This way. the last things the dog always does is drop the toy in the basket. I would start with the something the dog will spit out. like a wooden dowel. I would do this right over the basket. I would put the dowel in the dogs mouth. and they will spit it immediatly. Click and reward. Then I would start telling them to hold. somehow you have to get them to hold it. then tell them "out" or give and click and reward. then I would transfer that over to the toy. next I would start moving the toy from right over the basket, to maybe may hand just next to the basket. Then a little further away, then maybe on a chair. This is called chaining. If the dog messes up, say no no or ahaah. or to bad. these are non- reward markers. these communicate sorry, you did not earn a click.
I believe a dog's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment he holds dear, is when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle-with a ball in his mouth."
One quick note about clickers... you don't have to use an "official" clicker. Anything that clicks, even a click-top pen would work. My husband does this cool click sound with his mouth. It just needs to be something your dog recognizes as a click (or I imagine any "cue" sound would work). And it doesn't need to be loud - dogs have excellent hearing! Also, using a clicker doesn't eliminate the use of hand signals, etc. The nice thing about the clicker is that after they are clear on the meaning of the click, you don't have to constantly give out the treat. The click will signal that they have given you the behavior/action you were looking for - we use it even with our horses, and after some ground work where they are clear what the click is all about, we can use the click even under saddle (without the immediate treat). It's a terrific method and our dogs get all excited when they see us pull out the clicker and they give us 100% undivided attention:0)