How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch

Do you know how to teach your dog to fetch? For some dogs, this playtime ritual comes naturally, but others need a little coaching. Today, we thought we’d share some of our best tips for how to teach your dog to fetch with the hope that this game will bring you and your fur kid hours of energetic fun!

how to teach your dog to fetch


How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch

how to teach your dog to fetch

Step #1 – Be Enthusiastic!

Your dog’s favorite part of life involves pleasing you. Before teaching her how to retrieve an item and bring it back to you, be sure that you are in a patient and enthusiastic mood. If she’s never done this before, it may seem awkward at first, but if she senses that you’re having a good time learning a new activity together, she’ll be doubly enthusiastic about doing her best to keep you in that happy state!

how to teach your dog to fetch

Step #2 – Use Your Dog’s Interest As a Learning Tool

To teach your dog how to fetch, it’s best to use an item that she’s actually interested in playing with. This might be a ball, a plush toy or even a slipper. As long as your dog is interested in chasing this item, the remaining steps should go a lot easier for you both.

Step #3 – Use the Same Command Word

With your dog at your side, toss the object of her affection several feet away while giving her a command word and encouraging her to follow the object. As far as words go, we like Fetch! But you may use any words you like…just be sure to use the same command each time you play this game so that she gets used to hearing it and eventually comes to understand what she is being asked to do.

Step #4 – Reward Your Pooch With Praise

Each time your fur buddy actually chases the item you’ve thrown, be enthusiastic in rewarding her with praise. Encourage her to pick the item up with her mouth and act genuinely excited each time she does.

Step #5 – Call Your Dog Toward You

While the item is still in your pooch’s mouth, call her to come toward you. Hold your hand out and beckon her with an excited tone in your voice. If she doesn’t get the hang of this the first few times, do not let your enthusiasm wane, but patiently continue to instruct her to head in your direction once she has retrieved an item.

Step #6 – Reward, Reward, Reward!!!

When your dog brings the item to you, be sure to reward her generously. You may do so with excited verbal praise, affection or even a treat, but be sure to shower her with loving energy so that she gets a clear message that she has made you happy.

Once your dog gets the hang of fetching an item and successfully bringing it to you, you can try other command words to train her to fetch other objects for you. Examples may include the newspaper, the remote control or other small objects that you may want to assign to her. Remember, that a lot of dogs really enjoy helping out and spending time with us, so just be patient with your little one as she learns the language and different cues associated with your commands.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • If your dog likes to chase an item, but won’t return it to you, be patient and try focusing solely on teaching her to release the item to you first. Do this by keeping her on a leash and gently tossing the item within her reach without letting go of the leash. Allow her to pick the item up and offer your hand for her to release it to you. Whether she releases it into your hand or merely drops it at your feet, generously reward her for her effort and keep practicing!
  • If your dog isn’t interested in letting the item go once she’s retrieved it, practice giving her a favored treat as a reward. Once she sees and smells the treat, she’ll drop the item in her mouth right away at which time be sure to reward her with praise and allow her to eat the treat. This works best if you practice just before mealtime when her appetite is in full effect!

Your Thoughts?

What do you think of our advice on how to teach your dog to fetch? Let us know if these tips work for you. And if you have others that you’d like to share with our readers, please be sure to add them below. Thanks for reading and remember to share this post with your social networks…just be sure to use the #FetchPetCare hashtag so that we can join you in conversation there!