How To Train Your Dog To Play Fetch? The Easy Way


 

How To Train Your Dog To Fetch

Nothing beats a classic game of fetch with your furry friend! If you are a dog owner, you may be excited to finally train your dog how to play fetch.

However, if you think that you will just throw a ball and your dog will go chasing after it instinctively, think again! Not all dogs will immediately understand what you expect them to do.

So don’t be too surprised if your dog stays seated there quizzically.

Teaching your dog how to play fetch is possible. However, it takes a lot of practice, a lot of patience, and a whole lot of treats! So, let’s start our guide on how to teach a dog to fetch.

Preliminary Training

Before we can begin playing fetch, there are a few basic cues your dog should be trained in, i.e., "sit" or "come here."

You should also train your dog to focus on you when you administer "look" or "watch me" commands. 

-------------------------------------Quick Links----------------------------------------------------
Train Your Dog To Sit
Train Your Dog To Come Here
Watch Me
How To Train Your Dog To Play Fetch?
How To Train Your Dog To Catch A Ball?
Tug And Release
How To Train Your Dog To Bring A Ball Back?
Next, How To Teach A Dog To Fetch?(Bring it all together)
Why Does My Dog Not Let Go Of The Ball?
How To Train Your Dog To Drop The Ball In Fetch?
Teach Your Dog To Drop The Ball In Your Hand

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Train Your Dog To Sit

Easy Way To Train Your Dog To Sit

Sit is one of the most basic verbal cues you should teach your dog. It is an excellent starting point for any game or exercise.

  1. Get a delicious and motivating treat to act as a lure
  2. Hold the lure at your dog's nose level as she/he faces toward you
  3. Slide the lure over his nose and past his eyes straight on top of the head
  4. Instinctively, his back legs will fold down as he follows the treat.
  5. Wait for him to sit down before you can give him the reward
  6. Continue practicing until your pooch can sit on the verbal cue.

Train Your Dog To Come Here

Come here is one of the core building blocks of any game of fetch. Teach your dog to come back to you on command.

Train You Dog To Come

  1. Have your dog seated in one position.
  2. Take two steps away from your dog and then use a treat to lure him towards you
  3. Every time he comes to you on command, give him a treat
  4. You can incorporate sit and stay commands with “come here” as well.

Watch Me

When playing a game of fetch, you'll want to grab your dog’s attention. Adding a verbal queue such as “look” or “watch me” is a great addition.

  1. Start by holding a treat in front of your face and say “look” or “watch me.”
  2. The treat will attract the dog to look at your face
  3. Once your pup focuses on you, give him a treat and plenty of praise!
  4. Continue training at regular intervals, and have your dog make eye contact with you during walks or training to improve their focus.

How To Train Your Dog To Play Fetch?

Trin Your Dog To Fetch

If you have trained your dog to act on verbal cues and commands, you can move on to playing fetch.

The classic game of fetch can be broken down into two basic levels - catching the ball and bringing the ball back to the owner.

You will have to teach your dog these steps one by one before you can advance to the full-fledged version of fetch.

How To Train Your Dog To Catch A Ball?

How To Train A Dog To Fetch A Ball

Let's start with step 1.

This is where you will train your dog to catch the ball or "get it." For this part, you will need two of the same types of chase toys. 

Start by first training with "tug and release." Tug and release will help improve your dog's toy drive and motivation to play with the toy - in this case, the ball.

The play drive is what motivates a dog's desire to have physical activities with its owner and other dogs.

This includes the desire to interact with toys and objects during play. The higher your dog's play drive, the more focused he will be during fetch.

Think of it this way, unless your dog is fully focused on the ball, he won’t be motivated enough to go fetch it!

You can assess your dog's play drive by offering him a toy and seeing how he reacts. Dogs with a low drive won’t grab the toy easily, and dogs with a high play drive won’t seem to let go of the toy. Tug and release will help here.

Tug And Release

Tug & Release Toy

For this, you will need a dog toy, preferably a tug toy, and you will use verbal cues such as "get it" and "give it."

  1. Start by holding out the tug toy near your dog to grab his attention.
  2. Once he looks at it, reward him.
  3. Next, encourage him to come and get it. When he touches the toy or tries to grab it or mouth it, give him a treat again!
  4. Now, if your dog manages to grab the toy with his mouth, say “get it” or “grab." If he pulls it away from you, give him a treat.
  5. Continue playing this short game, hold the toy tightly, and add some resistance from time to time until you notice your dog being more enthusiastic.

Now that you have mastered tugging, you have to teach your dog to release.

If you have a high play drive dog, getting him to release the toy is the real challenge. For this, use the second dog chase toy and hold it out to him.

  1. Make him drop the first toy and take the second one.
  2. Add verbal cues such as "give it" or drop it" as he releases the toy, so he understands it as a command.
  3. Continue practicing releasing until he can do it on command. 

If you master tug and release, your dog will be able to catch the ball on the field with ease.

  1. Use the toy to tease your dog for a few seconds before you throw it a few feet away from the dog.
  2. He will run to grab it and pick it up with his mouth; if he does, reward him.
  3. Add verbal cues such as “get it” as we learned in tug and release to motivate him to interact with the ball.

How To Train Your Dog To Bring A Ball Back?

If your dog manages to grab the ball, we move on to step 2! Here your dog will be bringing the ball back to you, i.e., the owner.

  1. Here we will introduce a new verbal cue, "bring it," which is a bit similar to get it, except your dog will not only get the ball but bring it back to you.
  2. Try to show enthusiasm and call out to your pup with his name, asking him to bring the ball back.
  3. If he takes a few steps forward, give him plenty of praise. You can also reward him with a treat!
  4. When he gets close enough, ask him to give you the ball. Again, we can use the “release” command we observed in tug and release.
  5. Use a second ball to draw his attention, so he lets go of the first ball.
  6. If he lets go and comes to the second ball, toss the second ball a bit further and quickly pick up the dropped ball

Next, How To Teach A Dog To Fetch?(Bring it all together)

Now that you have throwing, catching, and bringing back the ball practiced out, you can merge it all for “fetch”!

  1. Again, have your dog sit or stay in one place. Tease him with the ball and then toss it a few feet away.
  2. Ask him to "get it" or introduce the verbal cue "fetch it."
  3. Once he grabs the ball, ask him to "give it" or "bring it."
  4. If he manages to bring it back, ask him to "drop it."

Keep on practicing, and your dog will master playing fetch! You can also increase the distance of the throw after some time to keep up with training.

Why Does My Dog Not Let Go Of The Ball?

Why Does My Dog Not Let Go of the Ball

Dogs with a high play drive may be a bit hesitant to let go of the ball.

  • If they don’t let go of the ball, show them some lovely tasty treats and place them on the floor. As your dog lets go of the ball and goes for the treats, give him plenty of praise.
  • If your dog starts to run away or get you to run after him, don’t engage. Instead, change the training lesson entirely or start a different game.

Now, how to teach a dog to drop it?

How To Train Your Dog To Drop The Ball In Fetch?

In some cases, if your dog doesn’t seem to drop the ball in fetch, you can introduce a second ball to the game.

Show him the second ball at their eye level and wave it around to grab his attention. Try to make it seem like the second ball you have got is a much better toy than the one he has.

He will drop the first ball and, at the same time, come for the second ball. You can toss the second ball away before he grabs it to continue with your game of fetch.

Teach Your Dog To Drop The Ball In Your Hand

Teach Your Dog To Drop The Ball

If you want to introduce more commands in fetch, you can teach your dog to drop the ball in your hand on return. You will also need two identical toys for this training to be successful.

  1. Toss the toy and wait for your dog to fetch it.
  2. Once he brings it back, hold out your hand and ask him to "give it."
  3. If he doesn’t let go of the ball, bring out the second ball to draw his attention. If he finds the second toy more interesting, he'll let go of the first one.
  4. Hold out your hand to make sure he drops it into your hand.
  5. Give him a treat if he drops the toy in your hand successfully
  6. Continue doing this and eventually stop bringing out the second toy. Soon your dog will drop the ball in your hand on command.

There you go; now you know how to train your dog to play fetch with this detailed step-by-step guide.

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