How to teach a dog to fetch?

April 13, 2012

Dogs are highly energetic animals. Some breeds even retain their puppy-like playfulness through out their life. Dogs love to play… to run, to jump around. This playful trait would be a big help in teaching a dog to fetch as the training will be considered as a game by the pet. What would be tricky is making the dog understand the rules of the game. However, with consistent training and with the use of positive reinforcement you can have a dog that follows your “Fetch!” command.

Select a location that is relatively free from distraction. This can be your own yard or a deserted beach. Parks would not be a good idea as you would need to vie with other people and animals to gain the attention of your dog. Start the training by arming yourself with two identical toys. This training is commonly called the two-toy fetch method. It would be better if you can use the favorite toy of the dog. Some people would use sticks but Frisbees, balls and dog chew toys are more preferable. Aside from the fact that sticks may have toxic substances, sticks may not be kind to the teeth of the dog. Begin the training by hiding one toy and playing with the other. Toss and catch the toy in front of the dog. This will entice the dog to join in the fun. When you have the dog’s attention throw the toy a little distance from you and give the command Fetch! Some dogs would easily catch on and run to the toy. Others would not budge and would look at you as if you are out of your mind. You are throwing a toy after all. Praise the dog if it runs and picks up the toy. Now comes the second part of the training… show the dog the other toy. The dog will be puzzled but the objective here is for the dog to drop the first toy and come to you because of the toy you are holding. Pick the first toy and do the same process again… and again.

Level up… Once the dog has picked up the toy call the pet to come to you. This time do not show the other toy. The goal is to command the dog come to you with the toy on its mouth. Praise and reward the dog if it comes to you with the toy. Repeat the exercise several times but do not overdo it. Dogs are energetic. They don’t tire easily but they do have short attention span. Teaching the dog to fetch is a good bonding time for owner and pet. Moreover fetching would be an opportunity for the dog to get good exercise.

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