New Tricks: Teach Puppies to Play Fetch

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Teach your dog how to play a game of fetch with this easy guide:

This is a complex procedure that can easily go wrong if the dog does not understand what is wanted of it. The best way of teaching a dog a complex routine is to teach it backwards, so the end result is what they understand first rather than last.

Part 1

  • Begin by standing on the leash so that the dog can move a little bit, but not too much. Hand them a ball or what you are planning on using to play with. Say the ‘drop’ command as soon as they drop the ball so that the word can be associated with this action. This could take some time, but be patient and do not repeat your command.
  • As soon as it is dropped, give it back to them as a reward, giving praise. Practise this part until the dog is dropping as soon as your hand is there to catch it.

Part 2

  • Again, step on the leash, but this time throw the ball a step or so out of reach and encourage your dog to pick up the ball and come to you. Once they do, and once they have dropped it into your hand, immediately throw again. If they keep hold of the ball, they may need more training in part 1. After about a dozen repetitions, begin to slowly increase how far you throw until the leash becomes too short.
  • At this point, keep the lead on the dog, but step off of it. This is not so different that the dog will get confused and therefore there should be no untoward behaviour. After a few more repeats, you should be able to take the lead off.

Part 3

  • Teach your dog to wait for you to throw the ball. Ask then to sit, wait for a moment of quiet and reward that. Only ever reward good behaviour, and do this by throwing the ball.
  • This training should be repeated several times, for about 15 minutes at a time to prevent the dog becoming bored. The whole process may have to be repeated each time, and you may have to repeat certain steps again, but by the end of this process you will have a well-behaved dog that loves to play fetch.

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