Teaching your dog to fetch is one of the most rewarding opportunities you could have to train and forge a bond with your doggo, no matter how old he is (yes, senior dogs learn new tricks). It’s a fantastic exercise for you both and it could serve as an introduction to dog training for a new pup.
The “fetching” instinct comes by default in many dog breeds like Schnauzers because they used to hunt rats and other small animals in Germany long ago. However, not all dogs do it as you’d expect, that’s why we’ll start from zero.
Maybe your dog likes to chase objects but he doesn’t bring them back to you, he runs away with the object or stares at you while throwing it as if you were crazy. We aim to teach our dog to fetch anything, anytime
Get Any Dog To Fetch in 3 Steps
Step #1 | Get your dog to bring the ball
Well, it doesn’t have to be a ball, that’s the very first thing we need to figure out, what is your dog going to chase? This is more important than it sounds, dogs have more interest in certain things but it’ll be fine as long as it doesn’t hurt him.
Pro Tip: The color of the toy matters, dogs can’t see the red as we do. My recommendation is anything blue or bright yellow, especially if you’re going to fetch on grass. The actual thing? A tennis ball, bone or the classical stick make good options, but there’s no limit as long as it’s not edible or toxic.
Think about it, “How can I motivate my dog to fetch something?” Maybe he already has a favorite toy.
Assuming your dog chases the ball but doesn’t bring it to you (which is the most common scenario) do the following:
1. In the exact moment your doggo has “hunted down” his first prey, throw a second toy in the opposite direction so that he needs to pass through you to get it.
2. Ask him to come to you while he’s holding the first toy. Use a treat to attract him if necessary.
3. You don’t really need treats to do this, some dogs love attention as much as a nice cookie, praise your dog and remember to be excited! Make it sound as if playing to fetch the ball was the most exciting thing in the world.
4. When your dog is starting to get used to fetch two toys, don’t throw the second one when he’s expecting it. Instead, call his name and tell him to drop the first toy.
5. Combine the above points and your doggo should eventually bring it back to you.
Step #2 | The “Drop It” Command
Now Sam brings the ball to you, great, but he neither drops it nor hands it over. Some dogs may get stubborn and keep holding the toy in their mouths even when you tell them “drop it”, here’s what you can do to solve it:
1. Don’t show the other toy until he reaches you. Once your doggo’s in front of you refusing to hand his toy, throw the second one and he’ll drop one toy to chase the second one.
2. If he’s particularly stubborn, tell him to sit while holding the ball, then show him a treat and slowly approach it to his nose telling him “take it”, very few dogs can resist such temptation so he’ll drop the ball for sure.
3. Praise him once he drops the ball, he’ll eventually do it automatically. Don’t forget to give him a treat (your attention or simply keep playing could be enough) to keep him motivated to drop the ball.
4. Repeat this process many times and have fun! Remember that dogs learn by repetition and association, so we’re teaching him that Drop It means I’ll throw it again and we’ll have more fun.
Step #3 | Fetching FAQs and Tips
Difficulties could arise in the process of teaching your dog to fetch, luckily it’s quite easy to solve them. These are the most common questions, but if you have one of your own don’t hesitate to comment or ask us in social media!
— What can I do to motivate my dog once he’s mastered the fetching game?
• Encourage your doggo to chase the toy even more by holding him back by his collar while you throw it, he’ll go after it like a rocket!
— My dog spits the ball instead of bringing it to me, what can I do?
• If he doesn’t really bring it back to you but spit it a few feet away from your position, get him to hand it over to you by saying “bring it to me, come on gimme the ball!” just before he drops it, and then go back a few steps while waving your arm to make him follow you, and finally place your hand under his nose when he reaches you so he can drop it.
— My dog is too slow to fetch the ball, can we make him go faster?
• If Sam’s too slow coming back to you, try to call his name and run away when he picks up the ball, that’ll trigger his chase instinct. Reward him when he catches you until he gets used to going back running. Also, don’t rush your dog to fetch things in the first sessions.
— How can I teach my dog to drop the ball in my hands?
• Some dogs might get used to fetch and automatically drop it at your feet, which means that he hasn’t learned the meaning of ‘drop it’ yet. Tell him to sit and wait when he’s approaching you, then tell him “drop it!”.
— My dog runs away with his toy once he catches it, how can I teach him to come to me?
• If your dog runs away with the toy, call his name and show him a treat. You can also attach a rope or leash to his toy (long enough) and pull it when he catches it so he’ll get used to going back to you. If it ends up in a pull competition, make sure you win.
— How long should a fetching session last?
• Your doggo will have more fun fetching things in short sessions, preferably less than 30 minutes. Try to end the game before your dog is completely tired, it’s better to finish when he still has some energy left than when he gets bored and quits.