For some dogs, fetching is natural. You’ll often see young Labs or Golden Retrievers eagerly chasing an object without being taught. Other dogs, however, aren’t so driven to retrieving. They might chase, but aren’t so eager to bring it back. For them, there doesn’t seem to be any point. Show your dog that there is a point by teaching him to fetch!
- Start with your dog’s favorite toy. Play a fun game, then toss the toy a few feet away (or less, depending on your dog’s want to chase). If your dog needs some encouragement to go to it, point excitedly at the object and act like it’s the coolest thing on earth. If your dog doesn’t react to this pressure, put a treat right on top of the toy. Your dog will soon get the point!
- Now that your dog has chased the object, see if he’ll pick it up. Most dogs are more than happy to mouth their toys, but others are leery. Put peanut butter on the toy to encourage him or use a bone instead of a toy. When your dog picks it up, give him a treat/praise. Repeat this several times a day for a few days.
- Now that your dog is eagerly going towards a toy to mouth it, you need to have him bring the toy to you. Some dogs will simply be overjoyed at the prospect, but others…well, they like to horde. Have a tasty treat, like a slice of carrot or a bacon-flavored dog treat, to lure your dog to you. It might take some work to get him to come with the toy in his mouth, but, with patience and time, your dog will catch on.
- When your dog is reliably retriever from a very short distance, increase it by a foot or so every day. If your dog starts to get distracted by something else and not fetch, go back a couple of feet. You threw it too far, and your dog doesn’t see the point. The point it, if he brings the toy to you, he gets a treat/praise!
Now that your dog will fetch his toy, you can turn this trick into something really useful. Start asking your dog to fetch household items such as books, remotes, etc. Some dog owners will even ask their dog to get them a drink from the fridge. They tie a towel to the handle of their fridge for the dog to pull and put a Coke or juice box on one of the lower shelves. There’s almost no limit to what your dog can fetch!
Sissy’s Tips and Techniques
- If you can, try to get your dog to fetch without the aid of a treat. If he can learn to do it by your praise alone, it will be easier. However, you can wean him off of treats. Do treat one fetch and praise the other, slowly getting to where you only give praise. Don’t discourage your dog by suddenly stopping the treats!
- Teach your dog Drop It for when he brings the ball to you. Some doggies just won’t let go of their beloved toys!
Does your dog love, love, love to fetch? Perhaps you should consider competing in a fun dog sport with him called Disc Dog. Check out SkyHoundz.com for more information on this fun sport!