How to Train Your Dog to Fetch a Dumbell

Medium
1-3 Months
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Introduction

There are many reasons we might train our dogs to fetch various objects. Tossing a tennis ball and having your dog come back with it can be great fun for both you and your dog. Some dogs retrieve as a game. Many owners use the toss and fetch game as a means to relieve their dog of excess energy. Fetch can be fun and rewarding. However, fetch can also be quite useful. Some dogs are taught to fetch as part of their job as therapy dogs, for instance. If you have a dog you are training to be useful and helpful around the house or to be a service dog of any sort, training your dog to fetch shaped objects that don't fit naturally in their mouths can be an important part of their service training.

Defining Tasks

Dumbbell training teaches your dog to retrieve any object you might need. Dumbbells are awkward for a dog to hold in their mouths. Some dogs’ instinct might be to pick a dumbbell up from one side causing the other end, which is as heavy, to fall out of their mouths. Other dogs might be inclined to chew on a dumbbell as a chew toy and be hesitant to bring the dumbbell to you. Teaching your dog to hold the dumbbell properly in his mouth and not mouth it or chew on it is the first step. Once your dog has this down, you can teach him to retrieve any shaped object by starting with dumbbell retrieval first.

Getting Started

You will need a few items at the ready for training.

  • Special treats for training purposes.
  • Voice commands such as “dumbbell” or “fetch” and objects name; “fetch dumbbell.”
  • Enough space to have your dog far enough away from you to make the retrieval process challenging.
  • Dumbbells or dumbbell toys - when beginning the training process, your dog may be hesitant to use a metal dumbbell, so you may look for a vinyl, rubber, or plastic dipped dumbbell.


The Games with Retrieval Method

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Games with Retrieval method for Fetch a Dumbell
Step
1
Encourage familiarity and holding
Encourage him to hold the dumbbell in the proper position within his mouth with a click treat or a treat reward method.
Step
2
Reward!
Introduce the dumbbell several times, rewarding him each time he has a positive interaction with the dumbbell.
Step
3
Introduce toys
Using other toys such as ropes, playfully interact with your dog playing tug-of-war with a rope and then introduce the dumbbell into his mouth rewarding your dog each time he takes the dumbbell instead of the rope.
Step
4
Encourage choosing the dumbbell
Having the rope and the dumbbell in each hand, place the dumbbell on the ground and encourage your dog to pick it up on his own. Reward and treat once your dog can pick up the dumbbell from the ground.
Step
5
Make it a game!
Once he is used to holding the dumbbell in his mouth and retrieving it from the ground on his own, turn your training session into a game. Mix and match the toy rope and the dumbbell setting one down on the ground and encouraging him to pick it up and then setting the other toy on the ground and encouraging him to drop the first toy and go for the second toy. The idea here is to make him want the dumbbell as much as he wants to play with the rope.
Step
6
Toss the dumbbell
Begin to toss the dumbbell across a short distance and encourage your dog to fetch. If he is intrigued and interested in this new toy you have introduced, he will chase after the dumbbell.
Step
7
Reward with play!
To get him to bring it back, begin to play with the rope, encouraging him to bring the dumbbell back to you and drop it at your feet.
Step
8
Repeat
Practice this several times, rewarding your dog for each positive behavior as he gets used to the texture and weight of the dumbbell and bringing it back to you.
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The Click Retrieval Method

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Click Retrieval method for Fetch a Dumbell
Step
1
Introduce the dumbbell
Get your dog used to the dumbbell by presenting it to your dog and clicking every time he has a positive reaction. A positive reaction would be sniffing the dumbbell or putting the bit part of the dumbbell in his mouth instead of the bell part of the dumbbell.
Step
2
Encourage familiarity
Repeat this introduction process several times with a click treat reward. Introduce the dumbbell, let your dog sniff, and click and treat.
Step
3
Introduce holding the dumbbell
Once your dog is used to the dumbbell, have him hold the dumbbell in proper positioning. Avoid allowing your dog to mouth the object. You want the dog to hold the dumbbell in his mouth without gnawing or chewing on it.
Step
4
Encourage!
Each time your dog correctly holds the dumbbell in his mouth, click and treat.
Step
5
Move the dumbbell
Distract your dog while placing the dumbbell in a position where he must find it.
Step
6
Locate the dumbbell
Walk with your dog to the dumbbell.
Step
7
Introduce command
Using a verbal command such as “dumbbell” or “fetch dumbbell,” and encourage your dog to put the dumbbell in his mouth.
Step
8
Picking up the dumbbell
Click and treat once he puts the dumbbell in his mouth.
Step
9
Repeat
Repeat these steps until your dog automatically puts the dumbbell in his mouth without coaxing him to do so.
Step
10
Reward and encourage
Click and treat after a positive mouth hold.
Step
11
Toss the dumbbell
Move on to the next step by tossing the dumbbell a few feet away.
Step
12
Use your fetch command
Using verbal commands, ask your dog to fetch the dumbbell.
Step
13
Reward!
Once your dog has retrieved the dumbbell and put it in his mouth, click and treat immediately by walking toward him with a treat reward.
Step
14
Have him return the dumbbell
As he becomes comfortable with this retrieval process and his click and treat rewards, begin to have him bring the dumbbell back to you.
Step
15
Toss and stay put
Toss the dumbbell. Staying in place this time, ask your dog to retrieve the dumbbell with your verbal command. “fetch dumbbell.”
Step
16
Encourage
This may take a few times, but if you are not moving, he will be encouraged by past behavior to bring the dumbbell to you seeking the reward of a click and treat.
Step
17
Reward!
Once you have the dumbbell back in your possession, click and treat.
Step
18
Repeat
Continue working this process with your dog until it is second nature for him.
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The Treat Method

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Treat method for Fetch a Dumbell
Step
1
Introduce dumbbell and command
Introduce the dumbbell and the verbal command you choose to use such as “dumbbell” or “fetch dumbbell” to your dog.
Step
2
Encourage familiarity
Let her sniff it and gently place it inside her mouth for proper positioning.
Step
3
Affirm command
Each time you place it in her mouth use the verbal command you have chosen.
Step
4
Reward!
Once your dog is used to holding the dumbbell in her mouth, give her a treat.
Step
5
Picking up the dumbbell
With the dumbbell on the ground, encourage your dog to pick it up off the ground. Once she has picked up the dumbbell on her own and properly placed it in her mouth, give her a treat.
Step
6
Toss the dumbbell
With the ability to pick up a dumbbell and keep it properly placed in her mouth on her own, you can toss the dumbbell a small distance and ask her to fetch with your verbal command.
Step
7
Retrieving the dumbbell
If she is able to run after the dumbbell and pick it up, walk over to her and offer a treat.
Step
8
Encourage returning the dumbbell
After several times retrieving the dumbbell and giving it to you once you have walked toward her, toss the dumbbell and stay in place, encouraging her to bring it to you.
Step
9
Toss and wait
With verbal commands, “fetch dumbbell”, toss it, stand firm in your place, and wait for her to return it to you. If she does not bring it to you right away, you may use other verbal commands such as “come.” When she brings the dumbbell to you, offer her a treat.
Step
10
Repeat
Be sure to repeat the steps often and practice the behavior several times a week once your dog has it down.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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