How to Teach Your Dog to Play Fetch
So you got a dog and took him out for his first game of fetch. But when you threw it, nothing happened. Maybe your dog zoomed over and picked it up, but didn’t bring it back. Maybe he just stared at you blankly. Either way, it’s totally normal for a dog not to instantly know what to do.
Some dogs are natural retrievers, but others need to learn the rules of the game. No big deal. Here’s how to teach your dog to play fetch.
Gather Your Supplies
To start, you’ll need three things: something to play fetch with, small treats and, of course, a dog. A ball or squeaky toy should do the trick nicely. Make sure that the fetch toy isn’t too big for your dog to comfortably pick up. Too small isn’t good either, as it can quickly become a choking hazard.
This Kong size guide can help you estimate the right-sized toy for your dog.
Since an excess of treats isn’t healthy, select small, natural ones like these.
Teach Your Dog to 'Hold' the Ball
First, sit on the floor next to your dog. Offer him the toy and say the command "hold." If he takes the toy, even just for a second, praise him and offer him a treat.
Practice a few times until he consistently picks up the toy.
Gradually Increase the Distance
Try placing the toy a little farther away from you, then repeat the hold command and encourage him to pick up the toy. If he does, reward him with another treat. Repeat for practice.
Change the Command
Once he’s got the hang of picking up the toy from a small distance, begin tossing it. Once he successfully does this, start switching the command to "fetch."
Teach Him to Drop the Toy
If he retrieves the toy but doesn’t give it back, encourage him to drop the toy and give him a treat when he does.
Drop the Rewards
After he’s got it all down pat, start weaning him off the treats. Start by just offering a treat after a few successful rounds of fetch. Then, just give him a treat at the end of a play session.
Practice Makes Perfect
Congrats. You learned how to teach your dog to play fetch. Easy, right? Now get off the internet, go outside with your pup and have fun. This round of fetch is on us.