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How To Train Your Dog To Fetch / Retrieve

Teaching your dog to fetch can be really fun and it's a great way to tire your dog out if you are pressed for time and can't take him for a walk. Some dogs like the Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever are born to retrieve and will be happy to play fetch all day long.

A dog playing fetch chasing after its toy
A dog playing fetch chasing after its toy

When learning to play fetch your dog may have a favorite dog toy that he likes to chase. It’s a good idea to try out different dog toys and see which one excites your dog the most. Squeaky or noisy toys are good at catching your dog's attention. Make sure it is small enough to fit in your dog's mouth but not so small that your dog can swallow it.

Once you’ve got the perfect toy you can begin teaching your dog to fetch. If you are training your gundog to retrieve game, it is best to start with a toy that has the scent of the animal. You can use a feather or another part of the animal to provide this scent.

A dog playing fetch
He's learnt to fetch, now he needs to learn to drop it

The Drop Command

The first command you need to teach your dog is the drop command.

  • Encourage your dog to take his toy from you. Once he has done this, motion toward the floor and touch the ground, saying “Drop!” or “Drop it!”. When your dog drops the ball reward him with a treat and praise. Repeat this process until your dog has grasped the drop command.

  • Start by throwing the toy near to your dog, and rewarding and giving him praise when he picks it up. Repeat this process until your dog understands he needs to pick the toy up.

  • Next, throw the toy away from the dog so he has to chase it. As you do this say “Fetch!” and encourage your dog to chase after the toy.

  • Give verbal praise when he picks up the toy and then call him back to you using the command “Come!”.

  • When your dog brings the toy back, use the “Drop!” command that he learnt earlier to get him to drop it. Give your dog a treat and praise when he brings the toy back and drops it.

Breeds Springer Spaniel playing ball on beach
A Springer Spaniel playing ball on the beach - a great setting for games of Fetch

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