Dive into our detailed guide on how to get your dog to fetch (retrieve) an object or a toy and bring it back to you. It is a great activity that will help you bond with your active pup and maintain your friendship. Let’s get to work and train your dog to fetch.
Get the behavior
Get your pup on the leash in front of you. Offer your dog a toy, they are likely to take in their mouth.
Once they take the toy, back one step away from such that your dog has to follow. Hold your hand down close to your body. You may prompt your dog to follow by patting your legs or using gentle leash tension. Click him for following with the toy in his mouth. Reward with a tasty treat.
Click for touching the toy to your hand. Reward again with a nice treat. Clicking or offering the treat will likely prompt releasing the toy.
As they follow, click. Click before they drop the toy. Stop backing up and offer a treat. You may need to present the treat directly in front of their nose. The treat should prompt them to drop the toy.
Repeat steps up to five times.
Once your dog has mastered the basics of fetching, you can begin to introduce new challenges to keep the activity interesting and engaging for your pup. For example, you could try hiding the toy in different locations, such as behind furniture or under pillows, and encourage your dog to find it using their sense of smell. You could also try using different types of toys, such as a frisbee or a ball, to see which ones your dog likes best. Another fun variation is to set up an obstacle course with different objects for your dog to retrieve and bring back to you. By introducing new challenges and stimuli, you can help your dog continue to develop their fetching skills and maintain their interest in the activity.
Add the cue
Repeat steps 1 to 2 but wait to click until your dog touches the toy to your hand. Offer a treat. If your dog knows hand targeting the “Touch” command (you can teach them with Dogo App!), you can cue them to target your hand while they hold the toy and approach you.
Add the verbal cue “Fetch” once your dog is reliably touching the toy to your hand. Give your dog the toy. With the toy in their mouth, say your verbal cue “Fetch” and take a step back such that your dog has to follow. When the toy touches your hand, click and treat.
With the toy in your dog’s mouth, add duration by moving several steps back away from your dog so that they have to carry the toy further to get to you. Backing away from your dog will encourage them to follow.
Click and treat for the toy touching your hand.
As your dog becomes more comfortable with carrying and retrieving the toy, you can begin to increase the duration and distance of their retrieves. For example, you could try tossing the toy a greater distance away and asking your dog to retrieve it and bring it back to you. You could also try asking your dog to hold onto the toy for longer periods of time, gradually increasing the duration of their hold as they become more confident. To make the activity more challenging, you could even try introducing multiple toys and asking your dog to retrieve them in a specific order. By gradually increasing the duration and distance of the retrieves, you can help your dog build up their endurance and stamina, while also providing them with a fun and engaging activity to enjoy.
Place or drop the toy on the ground between you and your dog. Give your cue “Fetch,” and then back 1 to 2 steps away from your dog. Position your hands low and near their mouth and begin to step back as your dog picks up the toy. Click and treat for your dog presenting the toy into your hands.
Once your pup is proficient with you moving several steps back, toss the toy further. Cue your dog “Fetch.” Excitingly backing away from your dog will encourage them to bring the toy to you.
Cue your dog to ”Sit” or ”Down”. Toss the toy and then give the verbal cue, “Fetch.” The cue will release your dog from their stationary position.
Click and treat the dog touching the toy to your hand. Repeat.
Once your dog is comfortable with retrieving the toy and bringing it back to you, you can begin to introduce more advanced training techniques to further develop their skills. One technique is to introduce a “drop it” command, which teaches your dog to release the toy on command. To teach this, simply offer your dog a treat in exchange for the toy, saying “drop it” as you take the toy from their mouth. As your dog becomes more familiar with the command, you can begin to phase out the treats and rely solely on the verbal cue. Another technique is to introduce a “wait” command, which teaches your dog to hold onto the toy until you give the signal to release it. By incorporating these more advanced techniques into your training sessions, you can help your dog develop a wider range of skills and become an even more proficient fetcher.
How did your dog do? Let us know and feel free to contact us for any further advice. Enjoy the training and good luck!