Though it is fun to play fetch with your dog, teaching your dog how to fetch is not an easy job.
The game of fetch involves chasing the ball, picking it up, holding the ball, running back and dropping the ball.
There are different ways to tech fetch. The method detailed below is an easy and simple provided your dog loves to play the game, as not all dogs like to do it.
If the dog possesses the skill of ‘drop’, you can proceed with the steps given below. If it does not, then you have to teach it to drop first.
First let the dog run back and forth with the ball instead of making it return the ball correctly. This will make it an enjoyable task for the dog instead of making it a chore. First start doing things inside, and then move to the backyard. If you are doing it in a park make sure other dogs are not present to spoil the effect.
Start with two, or more than two or you can also use fetch toys. If they are similar it would be better but not a necessary requirement. Start straight away by teaching the dog the cue. Use words you prefer, instead of just only fetch.
1. Get a ball, say ‘get it’ and toss it away for a few feet. You should say the cue before you toss or, pause after saying the word to make the dog remember it.
If he brings back, give him a pat or praise him. But mostly he will flee with the ball in the opposite direction.
2. If he picks up the first ball, praise him, but don’t ask him to come back or bring it back. If he does it on his own, then it is good.
Instead of snatching the ball from his mouth, you can just toss another ball in a different direction. You can get the first one, when he chases the other ball.
3. If he fails to return, try to look agitated so that he notices you and then move away. When you move, it will attract his attention and he will follow you.
If you have a squeaking ball, you can do a squeak and then toss. In case he runs after the second with the first one already in his mouth it is alright. This is the reason for having many balls.
When he nears you, say the words ‘get it’ and toss the ball.
4. Repeating ‘get it’ before the toss will help the dog to remember and ensure that you pick up the ball that is left.
5. Find whether he tries to come back with the ball. If he comes back, you can say ‘bring’ without worrying about whether he drops the ball or brings it back.
You can give a treat or reward the dog with another toss of the ball. On repetitive throws, the dog will start to expect another toss and catch on the game. You can start with the bring cue at this stage. Say ‘drop’ when he nears. Repetitions help instead of rewards, as dogs love to chase.
Show proper excitement in the game and end it, when the dog is still actively involved. Designing special fetch toys will also help.