Training a dog to fetch is a great way to provide exercise and can be fun for both owner and dog. Read on for tips on how to train a dog to fetch.
Most dogs have a natural chase instinct so while it can be a challenge, training your dog to fetch is very achievable for most owners and dogs.
Some of the benefits of teaching your dog to fetch are:
- It is a good exercise for the dog, particularly if the owner is elderly or unable to walk long distances.
- The dog will learn to freely give the owner items it may pick up, rather than running away.
- It is entertaining and fun for both dog and owner.
- Owners can teach their dog to fetch the paper or their slippers.
Basically, teaching a dog to fetch is a benefit for all involved. The dog will learn the discipline of training and be happy when he has pleased his owner. If you want to know how to train your dog to fetch, first you must offer the dog the right motivation. While certain breeds love to fetch, others may need a bit more coaxing and training and the promise of a reward at the end. Praise and food work well but it is also important to choose the right ‘fetch toy’ to begin with.
How to Choose the Right Fetch Toy
When teaching your dog to fetch, choosing the right toy can make a difference. Owners should keep in mind their dog’s natural chase instinct and choose a toy that can move along the ground quickly as a small prey animal would. Likewise, for some dogs, a furry toy that looks like a prey animal will work well, however, for starters, a ball will usually suffice. It is up to the owner and the dog to pick the best toy for them. Fetch toy options include:
- Frisbee made especially for dogs
- Tennis Ball
- Rope Toy
- A Stick
- An Old Sock
- Plush Toy
- Kong® Toys
How to Train Your Dog to Fetch
If you want to learn how to train your dog to fetch and you have selected the right toy, something your dog shows an interest in, you can begin. Encourage him to ‘mouth’ the toy. This can be done by holding the toy above his head or dragging the toy along the ground encouraging the dog to chase it. When the dog grabs the toy in his mouth, lightly pull on the toy, thus beginning a tug-of-war game. After a few seconds, let go allowing your dog to keep the toy. Repeat this a few times.
Next repeat the exercise again, but when your dog ’wins’ the tug-of-war, run away encouraging your dog to chase you. When he reaches you, turn and grab the toy and start the tug-of-war game again. Repeat this several times and once your dog has the hang of this, you can move onto the next step. With your dog standing next to you, throw the toy approximately 5 meters, making sure it bounces a couple of times before landing. This makes it more exciting for the dog.
The second your dog runs after the toy, say “Fetch.” While he is running for it, place some treats in one hand (you should keep some in your pocket). When he picks up the toy, run away from him, encouraging him once again to chase you with the toy in his mouth. When your dog catches you, place the hand with the treats down near the dog’s mouth, and the other hand under the toy. Say “Give” as your dog releases the toy to take the treat. Repeat this several times but stop before your dog gets bored.
Practice this exercise for a short time, every day if possible to reinforce the training. Gradually increase the distance you throw the toy. As your dog becomes competent in this, give the treat intermittently so that eventually your dog will not expect a treat every time he fetches. Make the reward praise and making you happy by performing the exercise properly.