Dogs love to play fetch. To some breeds of dogs, it comes naturally to them. But some dogs find the game of fetch something alien. Some dogs aren’t interested in toys. Some dogs are not driven to bring back toys after being thrown. Some rescue dogs do not have the experience of playing with toys. They don’t know how to play with a toy. Fetch is a popular game that most dog owners want to play with their dog. It can be annoying if your dog doesn’t come back with the toy when you throw it. Fetch is something that is like an instinct for some dogs only. It is like a skill that can be taught. Playing fetch increases the bond between you and your pet.
Things needed to teach Fetch
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When you are purchasing a toy, you should keep in mind your dog’s age and size. If your dog is older, choose a toy that is easier to pick with teeth. The ability of the dog is also a factor. If your dog is an expert at fetch, choose a toy that is a lot more challenging.
Some fetch toys can be tennis ball, squeaker footballs, discs, flyers, rope toys, plush toys. When you decide to teach your dog fetch, you should have a good range of toys for him. You should have an idea as to what kind of toys your dog likes. Some dogs love balls while some like soft toys. If your dog doesn’t like toys or if he is a rescue dog, then it can be difficult. But you can find toys that have a compartment in them for food keeping.
You can use pouches and keep treats in them. You should have small pieces of treats with you to teach him fetch. You can use a clicker to teach him fetch. Clicker training is also useful in communicating with the dog.
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Sit on the floor. The dog should be facing you. Hold a toy and show it to your dog. When your dog goes to find the toy, you have to praise/click. Then treat him. You have to reward him.
Then, you can change the condition a little. Wait until your dog sniffs. And then, click/praise and then treat him. In the next one, you have to wait until he puts his mouth on the toy. And when he does, you have to praise/click and then treat.
When your dog gets into the habit of putting his mouth on the toy, start making time range as to when to praise/click and treat. Go slower. Going slow is better than going faster. You can teach him with a verbal cue of “Hold” before click/praise and treat. You can do this when the dog is constantly keeping his mouth on the toy.
You can keep adding time in click/praise and treat. You can add time when you are asking your dog to hold. You can also move your hands away from the toy. And then keep your hand on the toy before the dog throws it.
You have to work at the pace of the dog. You have start slowly. You can repeat short holds. It is better than long holds.
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Once your dog has learned to hold, then you need to make him learn fetch. Hold the toy in your palm and ask the dog to hold. If your dog takes it, click/praise and treat. If he doesn’t, then you should practice the hold technique.
When your dog is taking the toy from your hand, you can take the toy and place it in front of him. Ask the dog to hold the toy. Then when he picks it up and praise/click. You can introduce the verbal cue like “Get it” or “Fetch”.
When you dog has mastered the skill of picking up and holding the toy, then you can move the toy a bit away from you. Then increase the distance. You can continue to increase the distance. You can change between asking your dog to get the toy placed away from you and throwing the toy. You can also change the toy and incorporate other things like balls, plush toys, rope toys, and soft toys.
You can build distance slowly and keeping the rewards high. This will build value in the game.
You have to continue rewarding the fetching behavior with treats.
If your dog is not interested
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If your dog is not interested in fetch, then you can introduce the toy with a tug-of-war game. You can put treats inside the toy. It is also very important to be patient while he is learning. Hide any frustration that you may have because dogs can make out if you are not happy with them. You can stop and start the game another day.
Some tips for playing Fetch
Use verbal cues
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Dogs can comprehend what you are saying. They have an ability to do so. You can use specific verbal cues and actions. The dog will learn what behavior is desired out of them.
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Fetch can be a boring play for the dog. So, you need to introduce new challenges like holding your dog’s collar. You can increase the time. you can give the verbal cue of “Wait”.
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You can treat them. These will reinforce the fetch behavior. Give them a hug. Keeping treats in the pocket is also helpful. It is like a surprise.
Run along with your dog
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If your dog doesn’t like running, then it can be difficult. There are dogs which like to rest on a cozy bed. So, you should run along with them. They will not resist from running when you run along with them. You have to praise them. You have to encourage them with verbal cues.
End the game before the dog tires