How to Train Your Dog to Play Fetch

Three Parts:Starting EarlyTeaching The Drop CommandTeaching Retrieval

Training a dog to play catch isn't that difficult if you've got just a little time and a lot of patience. Dogs live to please their people, and this is a great way to help them achieve this.

Part 1
Starting Early

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    If possible, train the puppy as early as possible. Training puppies is easier, as they are more responsive to new commands and will learn quicker. That said, you can teach older dogs provided you're patient and keep persevering with consistent training and plenty of treats.

Part 2
Teaching The Drop Command

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    Teach your dog to "drop it". This is an important skill to learn first because the dog needs to know when to let go of any object she is asked to pick up.
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    Hold a small object such as a ball out to your dog. Encourage her to take the object. Give her a treat as a reward for obeying on your command.
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    Ask her to drop it. Motion downwards and touch your hand on the ground. When she drops the ball, reward her with a treat.
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    Repeat until your dog understands "drop it" on command.

Part 3
Teaching Retrieval

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    Choose an object small enough to fit into your dog's mouth but too big to swallow. Favorite toys are a good object to begin with as she'll be naturally attracted to it; it is recommended that you begin with a familiar object first.
    • Squeaky toys work well to capture the dog's attention.
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    Roll or toss the toy near her, just a few feet away. She may want to mouth the toy, just to establish what it is. (We feel with our fingertips; dogs use their mouth.)
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    When pup finally picks the toy up, do whatever you normally do to get pup's attention with the intent of calling her to you. Praise her for picking it up.
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    Toss the toy away from you now. The goal here is to get the dog to come to you and bring the tossed toy with her. Say "Fetch" and encourage her to go after the tossed toy.
    • Always accompany the training with the word "Fetch!", as ultimately this is the only thing you want her to understand for the entire process.
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    When she picks up the toy, say "Good dog!". Then call her back with "Come!".
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    Tell her to "drop it", as she has learned to do earlier. Reward her when she brings the toy back to you and drops it.
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    Repeat 10-15 times each training session. Practice several times each day. It won't take long for her to know what to do. As she gets more familiar with the Fetch routine, switch out familiar objects for unfamiliar ones, such as a Frisbee, a ball, a paper plane, whatever. Reward her with praise and a treat each time.
    • Always choose safe items for Fetch.
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    Use Fetch as a form of regular exercise. Soon your dog will be fetching from long distances; this provides copious amounts of exercise for you both!

Tips

  • Keep the practice sessions short at the beginning, on the order of five minutes. You may need to go even shorter with some breeds. Puppies have proportionally short attention spans just like human children. Don't turn "fetch" into a drudgery.

Warnings

  • Whatever routine you decide to practice, stick with it until it becomes a conditioned behavior (see: Pavlov). Asking the dog to do different things on subsequent throws will only confuse it during the early phases of its development.

Article Info

Categories: Dog Tricks