How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch

Teaching your dog to fetch is one of the most rewarding activities you can do once you buy a pet and take it home. Not only does it give your pup an opportunity to burn off some energy, but it also builds a strong bond between the two of you. With patience and consistency, teaching your dog how to fetch can be fun for both of you.

There are actually two parts when it comes to training your dog to fetch: Getting your dog to retrieve the item, and actually getting them to drop it. 

Teaching Your Dog to Retrieve

The first step in teaching your dog to fetch is to find an appropriate item that they will be motivated to retrieve. A tennis ball or disc are great choice as they are small enough for a dog’s mouth, easy to throw, and durable enough for multiple play sessions. Make sure the item you choose isn’t too heavy or large so that it won’t hurt them when they catch it.

Once you have chosen an item for your pup to fetch, start by introducing them to the object without throwing it. Show them the item in a positive manner and reward them with verbal praise or treats when they interact with it happily. This will help them associate the object with positive reinforcement and will encourage them to pay attention when they throw it.

When your pup is comfortable interacting with the object without being thrown, begin introducing motion into their training routine by gently rolling or tossing the object a short distance away from them while giving them verbal cues like “fetch” or “go get it!” 

As they go after the object, continue giving them verbal cues and rewards when they return it back to you so that they learn that coming back is just as important as going after something. If your pup doesn’t seem interested in retrieving the object at first, try making a game out of chasing after it yourself or running away from them while holding onto the object. This will usually motivate most dogs into wanting to chase after what you have. 

When starting out, keep throws short and low-key until your pup gets used to running after and returning items. Once they’re used to this, gradually increase how far away you throw items so that they become more comfortable with running longer distances to retrieve the object. Also make sure that each session ends on a positive note by rewarding your pup with lots of praise and treats when they bring back whatever item you threw for them – this will help build up their confidence in retrieving things later on down the road.

Teaching a Dog to Drop an Item 

Whether you want your pup to give up a valuable item, such as a toy they’ve fetched, or you need them to release something more dangerous, such as a stick they shouldn’t be chewing on, the “drop it” command can be invaluable in keeping your pet safe. It’s a simple command that can be incredibly useful, but it can take some time and patience to teach properly. That’s why we’re splitting it up from the retrieving portion of this training.

First of all, make sure your dog is comfortable with the situation. If they are in an unfamiliar environment or around unfamiliar people, they may be more hesitant to follow commands. Make sure they are calm before starting the lesson.

Next, choose a treat that your dog loves as a reward for dropping the item. This should be something special and not something they get every day like their regular kibble or treats.

Once you have chosen a suitable reward, hold it near their mouth so that it’s visible and accessible for them to grab onto with their mouth if needed. Now give them the “drop it” command in a clear and firm tone of voice while propelling the item away from you using your hand or foot, if necessary. 

Once your pup has dropped the item, give them lots of praise and reward them with the treat you prepared earlier. Repeat this several times until your pup understands what is expected of them when you give the “drop it” command. 

You can also practice this exercise using different items such as toys or even food items. This will help reinforce the command in different scenarios as well as make it more fun for your pup.

Once your pup understands what “drop it” means, start teaching them how to drop things on cue without needing a physical prompt from you first. Reward them immediately after they drop whatever it is you’ve asked them to (no matter how long it takes). This will help solidify what the command actually means so they know exactly what to do when given this command in any situation. 

Finally, practice in various environments with different objects so that your pup learns to obey the command no matter where they are or what object is involved. You can also start introducing distractions (like other people/dogs) during these drills once your pup has mastered responding correctly each time. 

With patience, consistency, and plenty of rewards, teaching your dog how to drop items quickly and reliably doesn’t have to be difficult! With enough practice, soon enough you’ll have a pup who knows exactly what “Drop ” means no matter where he is or what he’s doing!

Putting it Together

Putting the two lessons together is easy – once your dog has retrieved the item, simply give them the “drop it” command once they’ve returned to you. You can also make things more interesting by changing up what items your pup fetches from time to time. You can use squeaky toys, stuffed animals, balls of different sizes and shapes etc. This will help to keep training sessions varied and engaging for your pup.  

Just remember these important principles during your training, and your dog will be a fetch master in no time:

  • Start slow and increase difficulty levels over time 
  • Use consistent verbal commands
  • Give lots of rewards when they return objects
  • Always end on a positive note so that your pup looks forward to future training sessions