Are you struggling or do you want to teach your dog to fetch? It is a perfect exercise for dogs and allows for stops, starts, jumps, pouncing, sniffing and running! Any age will love to fetch - just be sure to throw short for puppies and elderly dogs. But what you may not realize that it's not as easy as 'throw the ball and the dog will go get it and return'.
Many breeds are actually inclined to just chase the ball and not actually pick it up or return with it. I worked with a border collie for several years teaching fetch. She would chase and pick it up but would quickly drop it and not hold onto it. Note that I had to teach her to specifically 'pick up' the ball as a complete separate training session. This is done through back chaining the touch with their nose.
Some dogs are big advocates of holding onto the toy and would rather be chased themselves. Once you start chasing your dog as a game it's a hard one to change (watchout it can cause stress in some puppies). Breeds like Terriers may be more interested in hunt, chase and KILL THE BALL! I also know several dogs that just plain don't like to fetch. Throw it all you want - they have no interest and they look at you all side-eyed "Why'd you do that?".....
So, if you think you have a dog that is trying to learn fetch or you seem to be missing a few steps here are the tricks.
To break down the game of fetch you need to look at the 5 essential steps and figure out where your dog needs help. If you are starting from scratch - work each step one at a time.
Interest in the toy!Make it interesting, squeak it and tease her a bit with it
• Kong balls make the best fetch toys.
• Do not let your dog have the balls unless you are outside for fetch time – these are special balls.
Chase the toy:Don’t throw it too far at first and excitedly say “Go Get it!!”
Pick up the toy: Be quiet while she is picking it up, let her think about the ball
• As soon as she has it in her mouth bend down and start calling her!
Return with the toy: Patting your legs – call her to you! “Bring it!”
Release the toy:
• You can entice her with a 2nd toy/ball as soon as she is near you. See #1 above. Step on the ball once she drops then excitedly throw – “Go Get it!”
• Don’t chase her – try to get her interested in the toy in your hand.
• You can offer a treat and she should drop the toy to take the treat. Say “good drop”
• Wait for her to chew then then excitedly throw the toy – “Go Get it"
Now start over at Step #1. Get her excited!
NOTE: If she stays interested in the fact that you have treats – keep trying to get her to chase. She will eventually realize that bringing you the toy is what gets the treat. It takes a few repetitions.