How Do You Train Your Dog to Fetch?


Quick Answer

Pet owners teach their dog to fetch by giving the dog incentives to chase and return a toy and offering rewards. These techniques hinge on selecting the correct toy and understanding the dog's individual psychology.

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Full Answer

Choose a toy the dog likes before attempting to use it to teach the dog to fetch. Frisbees are an iconic toy for playing fetch, but Frisbees are not made for pets and can damage the dog's teeth. Other options include tennis balls, squeaking toys or toys that are either soaked in chicken stock or filled with a dog treat. Condition the dog to fetch by giving it the treat inside the toy when it brings the toy back.

Train reluctant dogs by playing tug of war with their favorite toys. After getting the toy back, throw it a few inches away, and reward the dog with a follow-up tug-of-war game. Repeat this process, throwing the toy farther each time. Run away after throwing it farther to encourage the dog to bring it back more quickly.

Another way of training the dog to fetch is to use a bait-and-switch technique. If the dog runs to the fetch toy without bringing it back, hold up a different toy after they run to the fetch toy. Excite the dog by shaking the new toy and throwing it. While they chase the new toy, return to the fetch toy and repeat this process. After doing this several times, call the dog over from the fetch toy without showing it the new toy. This will help encourage the dog to return with the fetch toy in its mouth. Tell him to drop it and then throw the new toy. After doing this several times, simply throw the fetch toy when the dog brings it back instead of throwing the new toy.

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