You love your pup to pieces, but sometimes giving him enough exercise can wear you out…
As the saying goes: "The devil makes work for idle paws." If your canine companion has a long-lasting battery and walks your legs down to stumps while he's not even out of breath, then teaching him to play fetch could be the answer.
It doesn't take much imagination to see how having a dog chasing after a ball and returning it can be of benefit. These days you don't even need a strong throwing arm, because neat little throwing devices can shoulder the effort. Imagine the difference this will make to walks. Heck, you can even sit on a park bench, relax, and take in the air while your dog runs to and fro, tiring himself out in the process.
The net result is a happy dog whose nicely tired and ready to return home for supper and a snooze, rather than rampaging through the house with pent-up energy.
So what exactly do we mean by 'Fetch'?
Fetch is a retrieval command, where the dog seeks out and brings back a given object. The pawfect 'Fetch' involves the dog dropping the ball or toy at your feet, ready to be thrown again. This latter part is the mark of a well-trained dog, which prevents the game degenerating into an unwitting game of tug.
Teaching 'Fetch' is a fun way to engage with your dog, get him listening to you, and get exercise at the same time! Can't get better than that. You can start teaching the basics to a puppy, as he will naturally chase after favorite toys and hopefully bring them back to continue play. The joy of 'Fetch' is you can teach it indoors with a soft toy, or outdoors with a ball.
As with any command, use reward-based training methods, which encourage the dog to act correctly, rather than punish mistakes.
You will need:
Start training in a quiet, distraction-free space so the dog concentrates on you. But as his skills improve, you can seamlessly extend his training into play sessions in the park.
When practicing in public places, it's helpful for the dog to have a strong recall. If he is liable to run off, then use a longline so that you keep control if he gets distracted and takes off.
Remember, give your 'Fetch' command in a clear, excited voice, so he gets caught up in the spirit of the play and enjoys himself. But stop if the dog is losing interest and before he becomes overtired.