Teaching Your Dog To Play Fetch

One of the neatest tricks you can teach your dog is to fetch a toy or ball and drop it at your feet. This is a great way to give your dog some exercise without becoming completely worn out yourself. Plus, it gives your dog a chance to let out a bit of excess energy.

You will need to train your dog carefully so he understands not just the fetching behavior but also that he’s supposed to drop the item on command. Here are a few tips to help you get started. Then you can move on to some fun games that will help be stimulating for your dog’s mind.

*Fetch is not the same as Keep Away:

From reading this you might get the idea that your dog already knows how to fetch but that’s not the case. Some dogs chase after a ball, bring it back to you and then they try to keep it for themselves. That is not fetch. That’s keep away and most dogs can already do that. That’s not what you’re aiming for.

Unhappily, that’s a behavior that can be very frustrating. It can cut short your play sessions with your dog and lead to a lot of chewed up tennis balls. Before you do anything else you need to teach your dog to “drop it.”

*Drop It:

There are a couple of options when you teach your dog to “drop it.” You can teach your dog to drop it by using a treat or a toy for a reward. You’ll need one of your dog’s favorite toys and some time to work with your dog.

To teach “drop it” you should wait for your dog to pick up his favorite toy and then ask him to drop it. Give your dog the command to drop the toy. When your dog does drop the toy, give your dog a reward. It may take some time for this to work because your dog may not make the connections between the two actions immediately.

You can also teach your dog to “drop it” by having two tennis balls and sort of tricking him into dropping one. Throw the first tennis ball and send your dog to retrieve it. Most dogs are already good at this part of the game.

If your dog won’t drop the tennis ball when he comes back to you, pull out the second tennis ball and start ignoring your dog. Play with the second tennis ball and act like you’re having a great time. It usually only takes a few seconds to get your dog’s attention. As soon as your dog is paying attention, throw the second ball and send them to fetch it.

Very quickly your dog will start to realize that when you say “drop it” you’re going to throw another tennis ball. It won’t be long before you’ll be able to use the same ball each time.

*Don’t Bore Your Dog:

Some dogs love to play fetch so much that they can play for hours and never get bored. Other dogs can retrieve the ball three or four times and they’re ready to take a nap (like a Labrador retriever). You’ll need to try to figure out how soon your dog gets bored with playing fetch and stop playing before your dog decides he wants to stop.

If you can always manage to end the game while your dog is still interested in play, you’ll keep your dog interested in playing fetch the next time you pull out the tennis ball. That will make the game a lot more fun for both of you.

*Keeping Control:

More than anything else, you need to make sure that you stay in control of the game. If your dog refuses to drop the ball, don’t spend time trying to take it away form him. Just wait until your dog drops the ball. Don’t let your dog feel like he can control the situation or decide what will happen in the game.

Fetch is a great game that is lots of fun for both you and your dog. If you take just a small amount of time to teach your dog to “drop it” and then confirm your commands each time you throw the ball, you’ll both have a lot of fun when you go outside to play.

Mark Mansfield

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