Even if you’re a person that is regularly active, its likely that your dog has a lot more energy than you! So how do you make sure that your dog gets enough exercise, without wearing you out in the process?
One of the best ways is training a dog to fetch.
Most dogs love the game of fetch because chasing after prey is instinctive, so they’ll naturally chase a moving object.
That takes care of the fetch part, but the real trick is training them to understand, not just fetching, but also the need to drop the stick or ball on command.
So how do I train a dog to play fetch?
Step 1: How to Teach the Drop Command
As we mentioned earlier, chasing and catching the ball comes naturally to most dogs – it’s not something you’ll need to train.
However, after your dog has caught the ball, stick, toy, or other item that he’s fetching, your dog is likely to want to keep it for himself.
After all, it’s his “prey” and he’s not about to share it with you!
Luckily, there are a number of ways to teach your dog to drop it. Here’s one that works well, using a device such as a clicker that you can use to praise with.
Give the ball to the dog, then produce a treat and let him see it. When he drops the ball, click and give him the treat. Do this a number of times till be gets it.
After your dog has dropped the item he’s fetching, it’s time to add the voice command “Drop!”
Once your dog has the voice command down, it’s time to stop giving the treat and just give the click, or praise, as a reward.
Another way of training a dog to fetch and return is to use two tennis balls. Throw the first ball and have your dog retrieve it. When he returns with the ball, show him the second ball. This may make him drop the first ball right away.
If he doesn’t, totally ignore him and continue to play with the second ball. It should only take a few seconds for him to drop the ball.
When he does, throw the second ball for him to chase. He’ll soon learn that when he drops the ball you’ll throw him another.
Step 2: Quit While Your Dog’s Still Interested
Some dogs, especially retrievers, will chase a ball all day long. Others soon tire of the game.
If you see that your dog’s tail is still flagging, or wagging above its body, then you can end the game.
End the game while your dog’s still interested, and he’ll be more motivated to play next time around.
Step 3: Set the Rules
Make sure that you’re in control of the game, and not the opposite way around!
If the dog refuses to drop the ball, don’t shout at him or try to force him to let it go. Simply ignore him and he’ll eventually drop it and the game can continue.
He’ll soon learn that the game only works when he does as you say.
Why should I teach my dog to play fetch?
Playing fetch with your dog is one of the best ways to tire your dog out. It is excellent for burning off energy and keeping your dog in shape. Above all, training a dog to fetch doesn’t take long because you are tapping the dog’s natural chasing instinct.
What else is a game of fetch good for?
Tire your dog out with a game of fetch, and they’ll be less distracted when you start to train them! Play fetch with your dog when crate training, when teaching them to sit or lay down, or for more advanced tricks that take mental and physical patience!