There are three types of dogs in the world: dogs that do not care about fetch, dogs that chase but don’t fetch, and the really GOOD boys that fetch whatever you throw and bring it back to you.
If you are really lucky, your pooch plays fetch naturally.
For most, however, this usually turns into a game of chase or disappointments.
Some dogs will either sit or stare at you, wondering why you would throw away a perfectly good toy. Others are more interested in the hair between their toes than fetching toys you don’t want. Still, there are some that get excited about you throwing a squeaky little toy, too excited as a matter of fact, that they will try to run with it — far, far away from you.
Playing fetch is an awesome way to have fun with your lovable Fido and give him enough exercise at the same time.
Teaching your dog to learn to love fetching can be as simple as searching for a toy he really loves or as complicated as training the whole sequence of chasing, picking, and carrying the toy back to you.
Here’s how to teach your dog the game of fetch:
6 Steps to Teaching Your Dog the Game of Fetch
1. Choose The Right Toy
Dogs can be very picky about the toys that they will play fetch with or not. Some prefer a good, green tennis ball, others love the Frisbees. Still, some are happiest playing with a plain old stick from your backyard.
Experiment with different toys and see which toys or items excite your pooch the most. Avoid smooth or really small balls that your dog can accidentally swallow or something that’s really big that he can’t take it back to you.
In addition, avoid something edible such as rawhide. You might have a hard time taking it back with all the growling.
If you’re going with Frisbee, make sure to buy one that is made for dogs. Frisbees for humans are tough and can chip a dog’s teeth.
In case your pooch does not like to put toys in his mouth, try soaking it in chicken stock or stocking some treats inside it. This should entice your dog to put it in his mouth.
Reward him with his favorite treat. He will soon think that having the toy in his mouth greatly pleases you. From here on, you can begin teaching him the game of fetch.
2. Start With Sit
Before doing anything else, ensure that your pooch can follow the sit command. A good game of fetch always begins with you asking your Fido to sit and be disciplined.
Make sure that he is staining calmly next to you. This ensures that once your pooch understands the rules of the game, he will not jump up on you and get it before you have the chance to throw it.
3. Get Him To Chase After The Toy
Once you get your Fido to sit, next you will have to teach him to chase a thrown object.
Throw the toy and tell him “fetch”. And make sure to throw the toy just a short distance. While most dogs will instinctively chase after the toy and pick it up, some will just stare back at you with a confused expression.
If so, then you will need to work on training him how to play first. You can start with a simple encouragement for your dog to get it. Make sure to give him treats and lots of praises for chasing the toy. Gradually, extend that distance you throw the toy.
4. Play “Bait-and-Switch”
If your Fido is really the good boy he is and comes back to you after picking up the toy, then you can skip this step.
However, if you have one of the more mischievous doggos, then this is the next and most important step of the game fetch. If you can’t get your pooch to come back to you after picking the toy, then you are not playing fetch, you are playing his game of chase.
To teach him to come back to you, play the bait-and-switch game. Play fetch with two of his favorite toy. Throw his first toy. Once he starts running and picked the toy, throw his second toy in the opposite direction. He will probably drop his first toy and go chase the second toy.
When he went chasing for his second toy, run and pick his first toy, call him and repeat the process. You Fido might see this as a fun game of chase, but you are actually teaching him to turn back to you.
After doing for several times, throw the first toy again. Call him, but don’t throw the second one yet. When he comes closer to you with the first toy in his mouth, throw his second toy. Pick up the first toy he dropped and repeat the process.
Eventually, he should learn to bring his toy back to you after throwing it to him without a second toy.
5. Teach Him To Release The Toy
Now that he picks up his toy you throw away and even brings it back to you. You will need to teach him to release it willingly so you can throw it again.
One simple way to teach this is to hold out your palm under his chin as he has the toy in his mouth. Hold an aromatic meat treat near his nose. Mark it with a “yes” when she drops the toy in order to get the treat, then give him the treat with lots of praises.
Pick up the toy again and repeat the process. Once he drops the toy regularly, add in the cue “Give” or “Drop”.
6. Wait For The Throw
Although this is not necessarily required for the game of fetch, you can include it in the game since it makes your Fido concentrated and work for their reward of the game.
To teach it, when your pooch drops the toy, command him to “sit” and wait until the toy is thrown or releasing him from his “Sit” with a cue like “Fetch”.