How To Teach A Dog To Play Fetch (7 Steps)

Playing fetch seems easy on TV or when others do, but you have no hope with your dog? Don’t worry; this post will show you how to.

It’s gonna be a blast, but…

You must have seen people playing fetch before, at least twice or three times. Most of the cases, we see it on TV, when people just casually grab a piece of wood, swing it away, and the loyal hound will run to the direction and come back with it. It intrigues you, but when you try the trick, turn out your dog has no interest in the game. Or it was interested, went after the thrown toy, but didn’t bring it back as you had expected.

Don’t worry; the problem is not you or your dog. It’s how the TV show just omits the training and goes straight to performing. Your dog can do the task too unless it’s handicapped, but you have to take time teaching and showing it patience. Most dogs don’t have the fetching instinct. So, unless you happen to own a Labrador, you have to learn some before starting to train your pup.

The benefits of teaching your dog to fetch

Fetch is a great game to let your dog have fun and exercise at the same time. In turn, it reduces the chance your dog getting obesity or joint issues.

Lacking exercising leads to many harmful outcomes for dogs. Some just have degraded healthy. Other, could form destructive behaviors. We have seen many dogs throwing a tantrum and couldn’t get to sleep even when they need it.

Thus, teaching your dear doggo to play fetch gives it a chance to dump the stress, get its brain and muscles stimulated, and enjoy the outdoor behavior. It’s also an opportunity to strengthen the bond between you. Not to mention, going out often for a small game is significantly beneficial for us owners.

How To Teach A Dog To Play Fetch – The Complete Guide

Step 1: Get started by teaching your dog how to “come.”

If your dog has not experienced any training, you have to start from scratch. Telling the hound to come near you could be challenging for some defiant dog, no matter how simple it seems. To get started, get a handful of treats and a training clicker. When the dog performs correctly like you expect, clicking the tool could “mark” the success, letting it know why exactly it gains the treat.

Hold a piece of treat in one hand. Step a few feet back to create a distance between you and your dog. Bend over, and hold out your empty hand. Wave your hand lightly to encourage the hound to touch your hand with its head. If it does precisely and fast, praise the recent behavior by giving it the treat, you are holding. Some verbal pampering like “good boy,” “good girl” could enhance the effect.

Repeat the steps until your dog gets familiar with the new action. Then, retreat further and further away to lengthen the distance between you two. Once it gets the grip, start using a verbal cue like “over here,” or “come,” so your dog will run to you after hearing the command later.

However, no matter how skillful it looks, your dog could still be distracted by more attractive things. So, when training, put some distractions like people, toys, etc. around to test its focusing ability. After it learns to come when called, you could start with the true fetch.

Step 2: Introduce your dog to the fetch toy.

At first, you should find an exciting toy to catch your dog’s attention right away. Hold the toy in your hand, act as it’s the most intriguing thing you have ever seen. It will drive the dog into excitement and encourage it to play with you.

Use the “come” command to get your pup closer, then introduce the toy to it. When the dog gets close, and ideally, touch the toy with its nose, continue the process of click, praise, and give a treat. Repeat the actions until your dog is genuinely fond of the toy.

Step 3: Pull the dog’s attention to the toy

Continue by holding and start moving the toy around. Don’t move too fast, just slowly to attract the pup the eyes to it. Then, encourage your dog to move and touch the toy. When it succeeds, click, praise, and treat. Talk fondly to your hound, so it knows you are pleased with the advancement.

Step 4: Let your dog grab the toy

It’s when your dog should take the toy using its mouth. This part requires much patience. You have to watch your dog’s behavior closely, and give it treats and praises as there is a new improvement. Showing only disappointment many times will only stress your dog. Sometimes, it makes you come back to the beginning line.

Put the toy down, about an arm away from you if your dog shows no interest and retreat, you the “come” command to make it get closer. Slowly, it will come to touch the toy using its nose. You should click, praise, and treat it immediately to show that it’s what you want it to do. Then, when the hound advance to bite, then pick up the toy using its mouth, you must reward it with tons of excitement and more treats. Over the process, it will watch you seek reassurance. Remember to show love and patience to encourage the loyal friend.

Step 5: Upgrade to an indoor game

Now, your dog has got that holding the toy in its mouth equals your praise. Follow the slow, patient pace and lead it to the trickiest part of the game: fetching and retrieving. You should do it indoor first, with a small distance to be a start.

Don’t throw, toss to toy several feet away. When your dog comes and picks it up, don’t forget to click, praise, and give a treat. Continue the actions several times to let the furry friend understand that it’s what it should do. Then, encourage your dog to bring the toy back.

Step 6: Lengthen the distance

At the level, your dog has got the process of “fetch-retrieve-treat.” Now, it’s time to upgrade the game by throwing the fetch toy farther. It’s still an indoor game, but you can increase the distance by twofold. Doing it in a hallway is a brilliant idea since the straightway will make it easier for the dog to detect the toy.

Every time your pup’s successful, gives it warm praise and treat. Then, toss the toy just a little farther. After a few more time, the dog will understand and fall in love with the fetch game. It’s not obligatory, but at the stage, you could add and verbal cue like “fetch” before throwing the toy. It will create a reflection in the dog’s mind. The word means going after whatever the owner has thrown and bringing it back.

When it comes back to you with confidence in the eyes and the toy in the mouth, shower it with passion, and add a phrase like “good fetch.” It will make later attempts more spectacular.

Step 7: Turn it into an outdoor game – our target

So far, your dog has got excellent with fetching inside. Now, it’s high time to bring the game into a new level: fetching outside. You are about to do the trick as skillful and effortlessly like people in TV shows.

When the game is limited indoor, everything is nice and quiet. There is almost no distraction. But now, when you two are outside, your dog could lose its attention.

Then, try fetching in a fenced place first, such as a quiet backyard. You could try it in a park or other public spaces, too. Just make sure the surrounding is not so noisy or has other dogs lingering. Don’t forget to bring your dog’s favorite treat and praise it generously when it succeeds. You are demanding your hound to do something more challenging, so the reward should be deserving.

How to Ensure the Success

The truth is, nothing could ensure your dog master the trick. You will have to be much patience and have faith in your furry companion.

Moreover, you should let the dog know that YOU are the funny part of the game, not the toy. Don’t make it too fond of a toy. Try different toy every time you train it. When it shows no interest in the new toy, you have to make it think that the toy’s intriguing. Act as if it is the most exciting thing in the world, and your dog will get hyped. If you use only one toy in training, doggo will find itself at a loss next time when you decide to throw something else.

It’s time to say bye. Good luck with training your dog. With passion and determination, you and your furry companion will master the trick when you don’t even realize.