How to Train Your Dog to Fetch

Dog with ball
Pixiewalker / Flickr

It’s fun to play the game of fetch with your dog. There’s something about throwing its ball or its dog toy and seeing your dog retrieve it for you. It brings out the kid in you and it is surely pure fun for your pet.

But what if your dog doesn’t know how to fetch? People think it comes naturally for all dogs. But it doesn’t. And if your dog still needs to learn how to do that, how do you train it? Well, this is the right article for you. Here we talk about how to train your dog to fetch. It shouldn’t be so difficult. Read on and find out more.

Start with Teaching Your Dog to Sit

Knowing to sit when commanded is important for your dog to understand and learn. When your dog knows how to sit when told, you can easily capture its focus. Then teaching it to fetch will be a tad easier.

Let your dog master this command first before you move on. Be patient. You may need to guide your dog into a sitting position a number of times. Do this by gently pushing the bottom side of your dog downwards into a sitting position. You may also have to guide its legs in the process.

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Don’t make it awkward for your dog. And don’t be aggressive nor impatient. If your dog dislikes the experience, it won’t likely want to learn.

Why is sitting a crucial part of fetch training? Because your dog needs to stay still and calm while you grasp the ball and maneuver yourself into a throwing position. You don’t want your dog jumping up and down on you, right?

Continue with Teaching Your Dog to Approach You on Command

Once your pet dog has mastered the art of sitting on cue, next is to teach it to approach you on command.

Why is it important to teach your dog this command? Because most dogs would love to chase after a ball. But a lot of them can be naughty or selfish. And no matter how hard you holler, some of them don’t come back. So get this trick down first before you teach it to fetch.

While the dog is at a sitting pose, move away from it then ask it to come. You can decide what word to use for cueing your canine pet like “Come” + your dog’s name. Or, “Here.” And also, “Here boy (or girl).” There are more words you can use. You may also use sounds and clicks as commands.

Complete the Training by Sending Your Dog to Fetch

Here are the steps to training your dog to fetch.

  1. Make the dog sit.
  2. Get a ball. Don’t be in a hurry. As you take time to prepare, this teaches your dog to take its time as well and wait for your signal.
  3. Proceed to throw the ball while saying “Fetch.”
  4. As soon as your dog retrieves it, say “Come.”
  5. Praise, pat, and reward your dog when it comes back with the ball.

It may take a while for your dog to learn how to fetch. But it’ll get the hang of it soon enough. Train at short distances first. Then throw farther when your dog’s already making progress.

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What if Your Dog Doesn’t Bring the Ball Back to You?

Be patient when your dog doesn’t come back to you. It’s natural for them to get distracted with a find. What you don’t want your dog to develop are selfishness and disobedience.

Approach your dog and calmly speak to it. Make it relax. Then take the ball away from it. Then do the Sit and Come exercise once more. After that, try the fetch training exercise again.

An alternative correction method is to approach your dog and put the ball gently in its mouth (while in a sitting pose). Move away from your dog. Then ask it to come to you. Praise and reward your dog when it comes to you with the ball.

Teach Your Dog to Release on Command

Some dogs will naturally give the ball over to you. If that’s your dog, then you’re quite lucky. With others, you’d have to teach them to release the ball on command. How do you do that?

When your dog comes back with the ball, lay your hand out for it to clearly see and mouth your designated command. You can say, “Release.” You can add your dog’s name after that. You may also say, “Give.”

Puppy with ball
Rhochworter / Flickr

Whatever command word you choose, make sure it’s clear. And make sure that your dog won’t confuse the command word with something else.

Praise, pat, and reward your dog whenever it releases the ball over to you.

What if Your Dog Doesn’t Want to Fetch?

It happens. Some dogs don’t want to play fetch. What you can do is try to build excitement and fun around the activity. Talk in an excited, inviting, and happy tone during training. Get your dog to develop an interest in the ball and in running. You may try choosing a ball color that your dog will find attractive.

If it has a favorite toy, you may initially use that for training, provided it’s durable. Because you wouldn’t want to damage your dog’s favorite toy, of course.

Final Thoughts

Training a dog to fetch a ball may or may not come naturally for your dog. Exercise patience. Be clear with your command words. Train often and don’t give up. Also, don’t be impatient. Making it fun and loving will cause your dog to enjoy and love the training period. It’ll learn to fetch balls easily and more quickly.

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