A great way to help keep your dog healthy and to get exercise is by playing fetch.
The problem is how to teach a dog to fetch that doesn’t naturally do this. Some dogs like Labradors seem to have a natural instinct for fetching.
Other dogs, on the other hand, seem to have no interest in it at all. By following a few steps, you might be surprised at how easy it is to teach a dog to fetch.
Since you are teaching your dog to fetch, we assume you might need some quick tips on potty training a puppy as well.
Steps For How To Teach A Dog To Fetch
In learning how to teach a dog to fetch, we’ll assume this is entirely new to your dog.
Maybe they have never fetched before, they are just a puppy or have never shown any interest in fetching.
Getting Your Dog To Come
The first concept that your dog will need to understand is how to come to you when called.
There some great tools available that can help in this area. A clicker is one such tool that you can use to help train your dog.
Otherwise, a marker word if no clicker is used can work in its place.
A clicker is a small device that makes a distinctive sound. The sound from the clicker helps let your dog know that they are doing it right.
You can use marker words like “Yes” if you don’t have a clicker to reassure your dog.
Regardless of the method that you choose, reward your dog with treats that they really enjoy.
By using positive reinforcement and following the next few steps, your dog will start understanding how to come to you when called.
Steps For Teaching A Dog To “Come”
- Make sure you have plenty of treats
- While crouching a few feet away from your dog hold out your hand and summon the dog.
- Encourage the dog to touch your hand.
- After any successful behavior, use your clicker or marker word to help reinforce the behavior with praise and a treat.
- Repeat this process as you move further and further away from the dog.
- After they understand the desired behavior, start using words like “come” and “over here” as the marker. Continue to praise and reward the dog for following the commands.
Picking The Right Toy To Fetch
The next step is finding a toy they like after they can successfully come when called.
Depending on the type of toy, you can try different methods and see what gets better results.
Some dogs will enjoy toys shaped like balls or a similar small sized toy. Other dogs might enjoy a stuffed toy, or bone or stick.
The main goal is finding a toy that your dog gets excited about. After finding a suitable toy you can try these methods.
Method #1 – Teach A Dog To Fetch With Tug-Of-War
Some dogs have a really hard time getting the basic concept of playing fetch. A great way to introduce this is by playing tug-of-war with your dog.
Using a rope, stick, or stuffed toy works well for this method. To try this method just follow these steps.
- Start by playing a short game of tug-of-war with your dog.
- Take the toy from the dog’s mouth and shake and tease the dog with the toy.
- Throw the toy a few inches away from the dog.
- If the dog goes after the toy immediately pick it up and start another game of tug-of-war.
- If the dog just stands and looks at the toy, then wiggle it around to until your dog becomes interested in the toy again and toss it a few more inches away.
- When your dog reliably goes after the toy, be sure to reward him with treats and start a new game of tug-of-war.
- You’ll repeat the process of playing tug-of-war, taking the toy out of your dog’s mouth, and incrementally tossing the toy further and further away.
- Soon your dog will reliably run to the toy when it’s thrown. You can encourage your dog to come back to you by reaching for the toy and engaging in a tug-of-war game.
Your dog will soon get the idea that bringing the toy back to you will lead to a tug-of-war game.
Overtime by practicing these steps and using treats to reward your dog you won’t have to play tug-of-war every time your dog comes back to you
Method #2 – Teach A Dog To Fetch With “Shaping”
To use the “shaping” method to teach a dog how to fetch, follow these steps.
- Place the toy on the ground and using your marker word, draw attention to the toy. Any interaction such as looking at or touching the toy earns a treat for your dog.
- After reliably interacting with the toy when calling the marker, encourage your dog to either touch or try to mouth the toy by rewarding them after successful interactions
- The next step is to place the toy on the ground in front of you and have your dog pick up the toy and place it in your hand. Reward your dog for any interaction that leads up to this behavior.
- Take a step back and repeat the process of asking your dog to place the toy on the ground in your hand, increasingly moving further and further away over time.
With both practice and using treats to help reaffirm positive behavior, eventually, your dog will pick up just about anything and place it in your hand when asked.
The main goal when trying to teach a dog how to fetch to show the dog how much fun it is to play with you and a toy.
Getting the dog excited to play with you is just as important as them getting excited about the toy.
By using treats and toys that your dog already likes, you’ll be surprised to find out just how easy it can be to teach a dog to fetch.
Even if they don’t naturally do so on their own, once it becomes a fun game, they will begin to grasp the concept and they’ll be fetching in no time.