How to Teach Your Dog to Play Fetch

Dogs and fetching have always been synonymous in many folks’ minds, but in reality, tons of dogs don’t know how to fetch, or simply don’t fetch well. What appears to be an effortless game between canine and owner is often the result of a lot of training, and sometimes frustration, on both ends.

Here is how to effortlessly teach your dog this stimulating and fun game.

What is Fetch?

A typical game of fetch goes something like this:

  • The owner throws a ball
  • The dog chases the ball
  • The dog retrieves the ball
  • Dog brings the ball back to owner
  • Dog places the ball in his owner’s hand

Choosing the Right Toy

teach-dog-to-play-fetch-canna-petYour dog can be extremely particular about the toy he’ll want to play fetch with. While others prefer balls, some want a Frisbee. Still, more dogs are content with playing with a plain old stick. Experiment with different toys to find out which ones tend to excite your dog the most.

Avoid toys that could be hazardous to dogs, such as a smooth ball that he could swallow or a stick with sharp edges.

Some good toys to try include:

  • Tennis ball
  • Rubber bumper
  • Frisbee
  • KONG Toy (comes with or without a rope attachment)

If your dog is averse to putting toys in his mouth, soak a tennis ball or plush toy in chicken stock or stuff an old sock with his favorite treats. This will entice him to taste the toy, and you can then reward him by giving him a treat.

The Reluctant Retriever

For dogs that simply cannot grasp the concept of chasing a toy, you’ll need to start with the basics. The easiest way to do this is beginning at the end, a concept called “back chaining.” This means you are going to first teach the dog to drop the ball in your hand.

Step One: Place the Ball in Your Hand

Start with a toy that your dog loves. Stand or sit on the floor with him and get close enough so that they can reach the toy from your hand. As soon as your dog picks up the toy, quickly put your hand underneath their snout while you place a treat by his nose with your other hand so that he releases the toy. When he releases the toy into your hand, say your market word and give them the treat. Don’t use a cue.



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