Dogs have a lot of energy, which means they need to be kept active. One way to keep your dog active is by teaching it how to fetch so that it can get exercise while playing with you. While some dogs learn how to fetch naturally, others don’t pick up on the trick as quickly. If your dog doesn’t bring back toys or balls that you throw, here are some steps you can take to teach it this useful skill:
Do you have a dog who won’t fetch? With some patience, you can get your dog to learn how to fetch.
If you have a dog who won’t fetch, don’t worry. Dogs can be trained to do just about anything, and fetching is no exception. It’s true that dogs are smart animals—they’re probably smarter than you! But like all animals, they need training in order to learn new behaviors.
If you have tried everything else and still can’t get your dog to fetch for you or anyone else, it may be time for some professional guidance (like how we train our own dogs!). If your dog has already been taught how to play fetch but refuses every single time someone tries it with her, then there may be something else going on here—for instance, maybe she is afraid of the ball itself? It could also mean that she doesn’t know how great it feels when another person gives them treats after playing fetch; so try giving her lots of treats while playing ball together!
Start off indoors with a favorite toy.
Start by training inside with a favorite toy. Choose one that is easy to catch, carry, hold, and chew. Use treats as rewards for your dog’s efforts.
Once your pooch has learned how to fetch the toy indoors through positive reinforcement (i.e., “good boy/girl!”), it’s time for him or her to try out these skills in real-world settings—but only when there are no distractions around them!
Toss the toy a short distance away.
To begin, toss the toy a short distance away. The main thing to remember is that you should say “fetch” at this point, as well as every time you throw something in future. If your dog doesn’t pick up the toy after 10 seconds or so, gently toss it near the toy and say “fetch” again. Keep doing this until your dog picks up the object without fail each time.
Say the command “fetch.”
The key to training your dog to fetch is to make sure your dog knows the command “fetch.” While most dogs will know what this means instinctively, it’s important that you say the command in various ways and locations so that your dog learns which words mean what.
To train your dog “fetch,” start by simply saying the word “fetch” in a happy tone of voice while pointing at some object on the ground (like a ball). Then, hold up another object and say “fetch!” again while pointing at it. When you do this with several balls or other objects, your dog will begin associating these words with retrieving objects from around the house—and eventually outside as well!
If the dog doesn’t pick up the toy after 10 seconds or so, gently toss it near the toy and say “fetch” again.
If your dog doesn’t pick up the toy, try again. If it still doesn’t work, try another technique. If you’re having trouble getting your dog to fetch, consider changing your tone of voice or body language when you say “fetch” to be more encouraging and energetic.
Once your dog learns to pick up the toy, start praising him and then give him a treat.
Once your dog has learned to pick up the toy and bring it back to you, start praising him as soon as he does so. The praise should be given consistently throughout this stage—whenever the dog brings the ball back, praise him and give him a treat. Make sure that these treats are small enough so that they don’t slow down his progress with fetching, but large enough so that they still feel rewarding to the puppy.
When first beginning this process, make sure not to give the treat until after your dog has brought its toy back to you and stopped chewing on it (otherwise, it will be distracted by eating instead of playing). After taking away the ball from your puppy’s mouth and putting it in front of it again (so he/she can see), say “drop!” or “give me!” while tapping gently on top of its head with one hand while holding out another empty palm toward him or her with the other hand. Once he gets into position where he places his nose near your palm (you’ll know when) reward him immediately by giving lots of praise and treating both with some tasty morsel such as bacon bits!
Practice this several times every day for two weeks or so.
- Practice this several times every day for two weeks or so.
- Don’t give up! Remember, practice makes perfect.
- Don’t expect overnight results, because they rarely happen that way with dogs—or people, for that matter! If you do have a breakthrough in your training efforts one day, celebrate a little bit! But then keep at it until your dog has learned the behavior well enough that he can do it without fail when asked. When that happens, give him lots of praise and treats (and maybe even a high-five) for such an impressive accomplishment!
Move outside eventually. If your dog seems at all confused about what it’s doing inside, go back inside for a few more training sessions.
Once your dog is comfortable with the new environment, it’s time to move outside. If your dog seems at all confused about what it’s doing inside, go back inside for a few more training sessions.
You might be surprised if you’re not used to seeing dogs fetch balls or sticks on their own—they can go really far! As long as they have enough space in which to run and are able to see you clearly (with some cover from trees or bushes), there’s no reason why your dog won’t fetch all over the neighborhood. Just make sure that there aren’t any busy streets nearby, so that both you and your pup stay safe.
Hopefully, the tips above will get you started teaching your dog to fetch. This can be a frustrating training task at times, but be patient and stick with it. Remember that rewards and praise are important! But don’t overdo it or your dog will not know when to stop bringing back the ball or toy. So when you don’t want him fetching anymore, make sure he knows by saying “enough” or “stop.”