How to Teach a Dog to Fetch: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Are you looking to teach your dog to fetch? Well, you’re in the right place. We’ve created a handy step-by-step guide which details how to teach a dog to fetch!

There are many benefits to teaching your dog how to play fetch. Not only is it a fun game to play with your pup, but it can also improve their focus, reflexes, and concentration levels and relieve stress.

It may seem like a simple activity, but many dogs don’t inherit the natural ability to fetch and retrieve and are more likely to play “finders keepers” with their toys!

Read on and you’ll soon learn how to teach a dog to fetch.

Step 1: Teach your dog to chase

Does your dog like to chase after toys that you throw their way? If your answer is yes, then you may be okay to skip this step.

Some dogs simply can’t comprehend why you’d throw their toy away from them, and they’ll simply stare at you wondering why. In this case, you’ll need to teach ‘chase’ before you teach your dog to fetch.

Food as motivation

Dogs love a tasty treat, so using food as motivation before you teach your dog to fetch is a good place to start.

A treat ball such as our Toothy Treat dog toy is an enticing addition to your training routine. Simply fill it with your pup’s favourite snack and throw it near your dog (you can increase the distance in time). Your dog won’t let their treats roll from their sight for long!

Dog toys as motivation

Alternatively, you may want to control when your dog is rewarded for fetching their toy. If your dog enjoys squeaky toys, they’ll be happy as a pig in muck to get their paws on this Pork Chop dog toy.

Encourage your dog to chase after their toy and each time they do, reward them with a combination of treats, praise, and affection to let them know they’ve done well.

If you keep repeating this process, your dog will learn that chasing after their toy will lead to rewards and before long, you’ll master how to teach a dog to fetch!

Step 2: Control your dog’s motivation

Once you’re at the point where your dog is actively chasing their toy then it’s time to start controlling their motivation. As they’ll be expecting a treat for chasing their toy, now is an ideal time to add in a few challenges.

  • You could begin to hold your dog’s toy in different positions and entice them to reach for it. When they do, use verbal praise to let them know they’re doing well

  • Keeping hold of your dog’s toy when they reach for it also gives you greater control over the game and builds momentum

  • A tugger toy is perfect for tug of war games and is a fun training tool. Your dog will also be driven to chase after this toy as it’ll mean more playtime with you!

Step 3: Time to retrieve

You’ve reached step 3, which means you’ve mastered the chase, well done!

Now for the crucial part: getting your dog to retrieve their toy.

This is where controlling rewards are most important, as you should only reward the behaviour you want to see.

When your dog picks up their toy in their mouth, reward them with a treat, like yummy chicken liver biscuits, or verbal encouragement as it’s one step closer to retrieval. Try calling your dog and ask them to bring the toy to you.

Using two or more toys at this point may also be a good idea, so when you manage to get your dog to retrieve their first toy you can repeat the process with a new toy to familiarise the process.

Step 4: Teach your dog to fetch (short distances)

Your dog now understands that when they pick up their toys with their mouth they will receive a treat, fantastic!

To avoid your dog running away with their toy, start encouraging them to play fetch with you across short distances. This may be quite tedious; however, it will really help to teach your dog to fetch and understand the process in its simplest terms.

Our Gator Raider dog toy would be a great option for this, as its cotton tug rope tail and squeaker are enticing features for your dog. The tug rope will also allow them to stay focussed on playing fetch with you.

Gradually, you can increase the distance you throw the toy, but remember to continue with verbal praise so your dog knows they’re doing well.

Step 5: Test your dog’s skills

Have you mastered how to teach a dog to fetch? It’s time to put all your training to the test!

Ensure you’re using a dog toy that your pup enjoys playing with. The most popular fetch toys tend to be squeaker toys, rope toys and plush toys, all of which we feature at yappy.com, so remember to check them out!

Use verbal praise to let your dog know you’re having fun with them and incorporate the command ‘fetch’ when you throw their toy, so they learn it much in the same way as ‘sit’ and ‘stay’. With patience and persistence, your dog will associate these words with the relevant behaviours.

Teach your dog to fetch by showing them lots of affection. Make sure to pet, praise and reward your dog’s good behaviour with some tasty treats to encourage them.

Continue to support your dog and build their confidence in playing fetch. When you’re ready, why not go and explore a large open field to really put their new skill to the test?

Fetch the pawfect gifts

Now that you’ve mastered how to teach a dog to fetch, why not treat yourself to personalised dog gifts! We have a great range of stylish dog tote bags so you can carry essentials to the dog park, like tasty dog treats for your pup and a travel mug for you!

If you’d like to know more about what Yappy offers or have any questions for us, don’t hesitate to contact us at help@yappy.com.


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