Teach Your Dog to Fetch
Want to teach your dog to fetch? Some dogs naturally have more prey drive or an instinct to bring you things, found in breeds like retrievers. There are dogs that will chase the ball, but not bring it back or even the dogs that are not interested in your silly human games at all. Learning how to teach your dog to fetch is a great way to exercise your pup and simultaneously teach them the importance of releasing an item to you.
Let’s start with the first half of how to teach your dog to fetch, teaching your dog to chase. Puppies do not see as well as adult dogs so make sure they see the ball rolling otherwise they will miss that it was thrown. An easy way to do this is to have one person hold the puppy while another person stands out in the yard, gets puppy’s attention and rolls the ball across their field of vision while the puppy is released to chase the ball. To build drive in a dog that does not have much interest in chasing the ball you can “tease” them with the ball, a practice often used with hunting dogs. This is not to be mean, but to make them want the ball. You can get on the floor with your dog and play with the ball, but not let them have it. When your dog is at his most excited, put the ball away.
Part two of how to teach your dog to fetch is the part most people have the hardest time with and usually ends up turning into a game of “human fetch” or “chase” instead. Keep in mind that motion towards a dog pushes them away from you and motion away from a dog pulls them towards you. The simplest way to put this theory to use is to throw the ball, then chase your dog out. As soon as they get the ball the game should turn to a game of chasing you. Running away from your dog, you can move backwards and clap your hands, while calling them excitedly. Instead of reaching straight for the ball or your dog’s collar, catching them against your side can be less intimidating. Now here’s the important part: Do not take the ball from your dog. Make sure your dog releases the ball to you. Whether they drop it at your feet or release it into your hand is up to you, but you need to “own” the ball and not get into a power struggle with them.
For advanced exercise, teach your dog to fetch with structure. This is a great way to challenge them mentally.
-Work on your dog’s coordination by teaching them to catch the ball.
-Asking your dog to stay, throwing the ball and then releasing them to fetch teaches impulse control.
-Really impress your neighbors by calling your dog into a down or sit while they are in the middle of running after the ball.
Playing fetch is not a replacement for mental and physical exercise. Endless games of fetch can cause a dog to be ball obsessed. When you teach your dog to fetch less is more. You may only throw the ball a couple times before ending the game and that’s ok. Taking the time to teach your dog to fetch can be more than just throwing a ball; it can strengthen your relationship and be a great way to work on your dog’s training in a fun way.