Teaching Your Dog To Fetch
Guest Writer: Lindsay Pevny, Little Dog Tips
Fetch keeps your dog’s body and mind sharp. It’s a great way to have one-on-one quality time with your dog while reinforcing good manners.
Only problem? Your dog can’t fetch for their life.
You throw the toy, and they’ll chase it, but you’re lucky if they make it halfway back to you with the toy. You might be wondering if your dog could ever learn to fetch.
Fetching isn’t just for retrievers. While some dogs naturally love to fetch, others have to be taught. Once they learn, though, playtime is much more fun. With lots of love, treats and encouragement, your dog can learn to fetch, too.
The Secret To Teaching Your Dog To Fetch
Most dogs have something called prey drive; they’ll run after a moving object, like a toy, when you throw it. You don’t need to teach your dog to run after a toy. That’s the easy part.
The hard part is getting your dog to bring the toy back to you. Sometimes, dogs would rather go off on their own, and play with their toy alone instead of bringing it back to you.
You need to show your dog that bringing a toy back to you is highly rewarding. You need to show them that playing fetch is more fun and exciting than keeping the toy to themselves.
Step 1: Teach Your Dog To “Give”
The command, “give!” is very important. You can use it to get your dog to give up a dangerous object (or something yucky they’re trying to eat.) Once your dog knows “give!” it’ll be easier to play fetch, and keep your dog from eating bad things.
When your dog is right in front of you, place a toy just in front of their mouth, and praise them when they grab it. Then, place your hand under their mouth, and praise them if the toy, by any coincidence, falls out her mouth and into your hand.
When you’re teaching “give” for the first time, your dog doesn’t necessarily have to give their toy to you – it just has to fall out of her mouth into your hand.
Do this several times. Say, “give!” as your dog releases the toy into your hand. If your dog refuses to give up the toy, you can tempt your dog into letting go by offering a treat.
Don’t scold your dog, or force them to give up their toys. This kind of negativity can make your dog anxious.
By keeping the lessons short, light and fun, your dog will learn to enjoy giving you anything she has in her mouth. It might take a few sessions.
Step 2: Add Distance To Your “Give!”
After a few sessions of practicing “give!” your dog will readily release her toy when you place your open hand under her chin.
Now, you’ll teach her how to pick up a toy from the floor, and then “give” it to you.
Just place or toss the toy a few inches away from your dog. Praise her as she picks up the toy. Then, place your open hand under her mouth, and say, “give!”
Your dog should drop the toy into your hand. At first, praise and treat whenever your dog drops her toy even close to your hand, even if it ends up on the floor. Then, only praise her when the toy lands perfectly in your hand.
Step 3: Play Fetch!
Now, you can throw the toy across the room, and say, “fetch!”
Your dog should run, pick up the toy, and give the toy back to you when you put your hand out. You can choose to keep saying the command, “give!” or you can phase it out.
If your dog doesn’t successfully fetch, don’t praise them, but don’t scold them, either. Don’t react at all. Try again in a few moments, going back to previous steps if you think your dog has gotten confused.
Fetch Should Always Be Fun!
Now that your clever dog has learned to fetch, make sure it’s always worth their while. Give them healthy treats and play tug-o-war between throws to keep your game of fetch interesting.
Fetch is a fun skill for ANY dog to learn. It’s not just for exercising your dog while you watch TV (though we all do it sometimes!) – it’s also a handy way to teach your dog other tricks, and to strengthen the bond and communication between you and your dog.
About The Author:
Lindsay Pevny is a freelance blogger for startups and dog-related businesses, and the writer of LittleDogTips.com – a modern dog training blog that combats the “spoiled little dog” stereotype by teaching chihuahua and small dog owners to raise a happy, healthy pup with good manners.
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