How to Train a Dog to Fetch

Today I’m going to talk about how to train a dog to fetch. First it is important to understand that some breeds have an innate “fetching” behavior and will naturally bring back anything you throw. Other dogs will chase anything you throw and then drop it as soon as they pick it up. Heck, some breeds may not even chase, never mind fetch!

For example, the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever have always topped the list of dogs the can be trained to fetch without much training (emphasis on much), while my Boxer dog may run if I throw a ball but then stand there and wait till I chase him!

How to train a dog to fetch

Can small dogs be trained to fetch? I read this question a few times and would like to address it. Yes small dog’s can play fetch and the training methods I will show you can be used to train a dog to fetch, no matter what size. Here is what some people have to say from Yahoo! Answers…

“They might take a little longer to train to fetch or be a little bit more difficult to train but they would eventually get it with time and persistence.”

and another…

“Yeh I have a Daschund who really enjoys chasing sticks and balls etc, but only when she's in a playful mood! i didn’t teach her though, she probably figured it out from watching my Alsations do it!”

Okay one more…

“Of course! You just need a smaller fetch toy and A LOT of patience. They have a lot energy and usually won't sit still.”

How to Train a Dog to Fetch

Okay enough of that you came here to learn how to train a dog to fetch. Here is what you should do. The key to beginning to teach your dog to fetch is to find her favorite toy, something they care about. Many trainers find that toys that squeak and make noise make the best fetch toys while ropes any tug toys may be a secondary choice. The reason being is that if your throw a rope or tug toy, your dog may not willingly release the toy.

After you’ve decided on the best toy to train a dog to fetch you should put a long leash on your dog. If you don’t use a leash then there is no way you will be able to train a dog to bring the toy back, especially for those breeds that don’t have the innate fetching ability.

Just like any other training you need to use treats to reward your dog when learning how to train a dog to fetch. Here is the tricky part, you have to get your dog to focus on the toy, the treat, and you all at the same time.

Now that you have your dog’s attention and are ready to for the fetch training hold your dog on a tight leash. Wag your dog’s favorite toy in front of her and then throw it a few feet away (not too far). After throwing the toy, give the fetch command (most trainers use “fetch”… duh!) and let your dog run after the toy. Once your dog has picked up the toy, use the leash to bring your dog back to you. After getting your dog in arm’s length offer the treat (remember those!) and say “give” while taking the toy from your dog’s mouth.

Wile training a dog to fetch you need to be careful that you aren’t struggling to take the toy from your dog’s mouth. Your dog needs to be able to distinguish a game of fetch from a game of tug of war.

The final part of dog fetch training is praise. Once your dog released the toy give her the treat and lots of praise. Just like when you are learning how to train a dog to do anything. Treats and praise will tell your dog that she has done the right thing.

The last thing I want to touch on is that if you are training a puppy to fetch, you only want to practice the exercise a few times per session. Because puppies have a lower attention span they will lose interest pretty fast. By stopping the game while your dog is still eager to play, you can pick up where you left off the next time.

There you have it folks, learning how to train a dog to fetch is simple as following the steps above.



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    Elayne Taylor
    Dog Training Tips