2 dogs lying on the grass after playing fetch

How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch and Return? 2024

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    Many pet dogs have a natural desire to fetch, which comes from their ancestor, the wolf. Wolves used to carry their hunted food back to their pack. This natural dog behavior has continued with our pet dogs.

    Most types of dogs need to learn how to fetch. Showing a puppy how to fetch is very rewarding. Everyone enjoys playing fetch, right? It’s also a good way to use up your puppy’s extra energy.

    Key takeaways

    • The reasons why teaching your puppy to fetch is valuable.
    • Steps on how to train your puppy to fetch.
    • Additional useful advice for training your puppy in fetch.
    • Alternatives if it isn’t!

    Teaching your puppy to play fetch is a fun game that all kinds of dogs love. You can use a regular tennis ball or their favorite toy. Before we dive into our step-by-step guide, let’s learn why you should teach your dog to fetch.

    play fetch with dog

    Why is it important to teach your puppy to fetch?

    • Good for health: Fetch is fantastic for keeping your puppy healthy and joyful. It gives them the exercise they need.
    • Boosts skills: This game helps improve your puppy’s coordination and concentration.
    • Builds a strong relationship: Playing fetch together can make your bond with your puppy even stronger.
    • Encourages listening: It’s a great way to train your puppy to listen and respond to your commands.
    • Stops boredom and mischief: Fetch keeps your puppy busy and helps avoid naughty behaviors like chewing on things.

    Play fetch is an enjoyable, bonding, and educational game for your puppy.

    Useful commands to know before fetching training

    • Come-when-called‘ command: This teaches your dog to come to you when you call them.
    • Drop it‘ command: This helps your dog learn to let go of objects on command, which is essential for fetch.

    After we finished all things for training, now, let’s dive into how to train dogs to teach dogs to play fetch.

    dog fetch

    Teaching your dog to fetch and return: 6 Easy steps

    First, figure out which toy your pup loves the most. Next, teach them that bringing this toy back to you will lead to awesome rewards. Finally, and this is crucial, show them that letting go of the toy is also a good thing.

    Now, let’s go over what you need to prepare before you teach your dog to fetch.

    Things you need to teach your dog to fetch

    • Your dog’s favorite toy: Pick a toy that your dog loves the most. For example, my dog’s top choice is the ball toy.
    • Tiny tasty treats or treat bag: Small treats that your dog likes, which are great for training.

    Follow these 6 training steps:

    Step 1. Get your puppy interested in the toy

    Show the toy to your puppy to catch their interest. For a retriever, a ball might be the best choice. For a terrier, something furry could be more appealing.

    Step 2. Toss the toy a short distance away

    You don’t need to throw it too far. If it’s too far, your puppy might not see the toy or get tired quickly, which isn’t fun.

    Step 3. Cheer on your puppy as soon as they pick up the toy

    Once your puppy grabs the toy and turns to you, start cheering. Clap your hands and praise them loudly, showing them how amazing they are.

    Step 4. Do a swap when your puppy fetches

    When they come back to you with the toy, offer a tasty puppy treat. Place it on their nose, and they should let go of the toy.

    That’s great, you’ve just taught your puppy to fetch!

    Step 5. Last, repeat the fetch exercise

    Each time, throw the toy a bit further. Cheer them on each time and swap the toy for a treat when they return.

    Step 6. Play fetch outside

    So far, you’ve been practicing fetch indoors, where it’s calm and quiet. Now, it’s time to venture outside, where there are more distractions.

    Start in a fenced area, like your backyard or a quiet, enclosed park. If you don’t have access to a fenced yard, find a calm public space.

    Choose times with fewer people and dogs around, especially if your dog isn’t great off-leash yet. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to learn how to train them for safe off-leash play.

    Consider using an automatic ball launcher for teaching your dog to fetch and return the ball.

    auto ball launcher for dogs

    This tool is especially useful if you’re busy and can’t always play fetch with your puppy. It’s a hands-free way to keep them engaged and active.

    Don’t forget to bring treats. You’re now asking your dog to work harder, so they deserve a reward. Play fetch as you did indoors, throwing the toy further each time. Give your dog a treat every time they bring the toy back to you.

    Related reading >>How Do You Teach Your Dog To Use A Ball Launcher?

    How long should you play fetch with your dog ok?

    It depends on your dog’s type, age, and health.

    Usually, 15-20 minutes is a good amount to start with.

    Healthy grown-up dogs often need 30 minutes of exercise or activities like fetch daily. But, if your pet has health problems or trouble moving, this might change.

    Remember, in hot weather, dogs can get too hot or tired.

    Additional useful advice for training your puppy in fetch

    Teaching your puppy to fetch can be more successful and enjoyable with some additional tips and tricks:

    1. Start with Chasing: If your puppy is hesitant, begin by motivating them to chase the toy. Use treats, play, or affection as incentives.

    2. Teach Retrieving: Gradually teach your dog to bring the toy back. Using a second toy can be effective.

    Show the second toy once they’ve caught the first, and throw it in the opposite direction. This helps them learn to come back to you.

    3. Teach ‘Drop It’: If your dog doesn’t drop the toy, use a treat to encourage them. Say “drop it” when they release the toy and reward them.

    4. Use Positive Tone and Body Language: Make sure to give commands in an excited, positive way. This shows your puppy that fetch is a fun game.

    5. Mix Up the Routine: Change the game a little now and then. Dogs can get bored, so incorporating different activities can keep them engaged.

    6. Make the Chase Rewarding: If your dog isn’t interested in the toy, try using one with a treat inside.

    7. Incorporate ‘Wait’ Command: Adding a second command like ‘wait’ can help your dog understand the game better and maintain interest.

    dog feels tired after playing fetch game

    Alternatives to fetch

    If your dog doesn’t seem to enjoy fetch, don’t worry – many other activities can provide both mental stimulation and physical exercise for your dog. Here are some alternative activities you can try:

    1. Tug of War: It’s a great alternative that can also help with obedience and impulse control. However, it’s important to play safely and set boundaries to avoid aggression or possessiveness.
    2. Puzzle and Treat-Dispensing Toys: These can offer mental stimulation and prevent boredom.
    3. Hide and Seek Games: Engaging in activities like treat hunts or finding hidden toys can be both fun and mentally stimulating for your dog.
    4. Obedience Training: This provides mental exercise and helps strengthen the bond between you and your dog, offering a change from physical activities like fetch and tug of war.

    Remember, the key is to observe your dog’s preferences and choose activities that suit their personality, age, and health conditions. Always supervise playtime and ensure safety measures are in place.

    Final thoughts on teaching your dog to fetch

    A game of fetch is basically: Fetch the Toy + Come Back to Me with the Toy + Drop It = treats and more play! Sometimes dogs need help putting these behaviors all together.

    Thank you for your time. If you have any questions about dog fetch training, welcome to leave a comment below.



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