How to Teach a Dog to Fetch?

How to Teach a Dog to Fetch

Many dog owners are having issues getting their dogs to play fetch properly. Any time you play with your dog, he or she just sits on the ground and stares at you, or just runs off to do other things like sniffing around and never brings the toy back to you, right? You may be very frustrated and would like to solve this problem. Then how to teach your dog to play fetch? Actually it is not as difficult as it seems and this article will tell you how to do that in 4 steps.

how to teach a dog to play fetch

How to Train Your Dog to Fetch?

Step 1: Choose a Toy that Excites Your Dog

Find a toy that really excites your dog. It could be squeaky toys, soft plush toys, balls, rope toys, tug-of-war toys, dog frisbee, or some other dog fetch toys. Dogs are individuals, so you need to find out what works for your own pups.

Step 2: Teach Your Dog “Take it”

Firstly, you can introduce a toy to your dog and reward any behaviors that your puppy shows interest in it such as looking, sniffing or biting. Be generous with your reward criteria at this stage. Reward each behavior with your dog’s favorite treats at least 5 times before asking your dog to do more. Then you can introduce the verbal cue “Take it” to let your dog hold the toy. You can drop the toy on the floor and ask your dog to take it, and reward him only for putting the toy in his mouth. If your dog can consistently put the toy in his mouth, you can increase the amount of time that you ask him to hold on to it.

Step 3: Teach Your Dog “Give”

Then we can introduce the “Give” cue. Now your dog is holding the toy in his mouth, you can ask your dog to give the toy to you, encouraging him to let go of the toy and reward him for doing this with treats. At first, it is okay to reward him for dropping the toy on the floor, because we are just teaching the difference between holding the toy and letting go of the toy. This is something we can refine later on.

Step 4: Add Distance

When your dog is so familiar with “Take it” and “Give”, then it’s time to introduce some distance. First, you can start with a small step and put “Take it” and “Give” together. To be specific, you can use the “Take it” cue to ask the dog to hold the toy in his mouth, and then you run backwards a little and encourage your puppy to walk towards you with the toy and give it to you. Remember only reward your dog for placing the toy in your hand. After practicing several times, you can throw the toy a further distance and introduce the verbal cue “Fetch” and then practice the whole process several times again. Finally, your dog can do fetch very naturally and smoothly.

teach a dog to play fetch

Benefits of Playing Fetch (Why is Fetch Important?)

Teaching a dog to play fetch seems not that difficult, but it needs a lot of your patience and practice. Then why do people still want dogs to fetch?

Playing fetch lets you exercise your puppies more efficiently and keep them in good health. It’s really a good game to keep them busy and relieve their energy.

Training your dog to fetch also improves the relationship and build trust with your canine companion, because it is an interactive game and relies on your cooperation with your puppies.

It helps us to teach dogs to work for non-food reinforcers, because once the dog comes to see it a fun game, then we can use it as a currency in training.

Safety Tips of Playing Fetch

Although playing fetch has many benefits, there are some potential dangers that need to be mentioned.

Do not let your dog play fetch with a large branch or large sticks, because they can so easily get caught in their mouth.

If you choose a ball to teach a dog to fetch, please make sure it is not so small, or your dog may swallow it and get it caught in their throat.