How to teach your dog to play fetch
If your dog is a natural retriever, fetching might seem like the easiest thing in the world. Your dog does it without prompting and he’ll play fetch for hours (or days!) with you (or anyone). But fetching isn’t just a ‘natural’ game – it’s a skill that any dog can learn.
To train a dog to play fetch I like to use toys that aren’t laying around the house, saving them specifically for fetching time which makes them a bit more enticing. You’ll also need some of your dog’s favorite treats for rewards – we linked our favorites at the bottom. Lastly, if your dog is the type who likes to wander off during training time, a leash can be handy to help keep his attention on you.
Steps Used in our training sessions/video:
Training your dog to fetch
- Encourage your dog to go get and play with the toy. I often start this on leash.
- Once your pup gets the toy, reward him right away for being a good boy… aka time for the treats.
- Next try tossing a toy just a few feet away. 2-3 feet is enough. Encourage your dog to pick it up and then as soon as he has it, take a step back and call him to you.
- If he drops the toy on the way to you, make your distance away shorter on the next try.
- Always reward him when he comes to you.
- If you find your pup won’t come back to you once has the toy, use the leash as an aid to help him understand what your are asking.
- When he does this easily and consistently, you can remove the leash.
- Begin taking more steps backwards and tossing the toy a little further.
- Once you feel confident that your pup understands the game, it’s time to head outside and let the fetching take off.
- Remember your dog isn’t going to chase after something unless he actually wants it, so feel free to experiment with different objects (balls, Frisbees, sticks) until you find one that he’s interested in.
- At the end of the session, put the toys away where he can’t play with them. That will make the toys even more exciting the next time they come out.
- Have a dog that isn’t interested in dropping his toy? Try showing him another toy to entice him to come to you, you will have to keep it hidden till that point though.
- Slowly add more distance, no need to rush it.
- Always end on a positive note, it’s about having fun after all.