How to Train Your Dog to Fetch a Leash

Easy
2-4 Weeks
Fun

Introduction

If you have a dog that already knows how to play fetch and loves to carry things around in his mouth, teaching him this age-old trick should be very easy. Fetch is one of the oldest games in the book. Training your pup to bring you his leash when he needs to go out or wants to go for a walk is just another version of fetch, but it is one with a purpose.

The only real problem with this is that you may be setting yourself up for being woken up in the middle of the night by having a leash dropped in your face. While this might seem like a cool trick, it is a good way for your dog to let you know when he needs to pee! 

Defining Tasks

The good news is the training your dog to fetch his leash is a relatively easy task. Of course, your dog does need to have mastered the basic commands first. You will need to create a training command such as "Leash" that your dog will learn means you want him to bring you his leash. Be consistent, as changing command words is only going to cause confuse your pup.

Since your pup will need to go out several times a day, you should have lots of opportunities to work with him. It might take him a few weeks to fully master this trick, but in time he will come to understand exactly what is expected of him. Not only is this a useful trick to learn, but it will make your pup look super smart when you have company. It helps if your pup already knows how to play fetch, but this is not completely necessary. 

Getting Started

Really not much is needed in the way of supplies for this one. All you really need is your pup, his leash, a pocketful of treats, and the patience to work with him on a regular basis. While you may not feel like taking him out each time he brings you his leash, the more you do so, the faster he will learn that this is appropriate behavior that has its own rewards (he gets to go outside to pee or go for a walk). Be sure that each time he brings you his leash you take him outside, even if it is only for a few minutes, to help reinforce the behavior. 

The Clicker Method

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Step
1
For this one, you need a clicker
Most pet stores sell training clickers. They are simple devices with a button or lever you press for a resounding clicking noise. They are a very popular training tool.
Step
2
Leash down
Place your pup's leash on the floor where he can easily reach it. Have your pup pick up the leash, click and treat when he does. You might have to show him what you want the first few times if he has not mastered 'fetch' yet.
Step
3
At the door
Now walk over to the door and have your dog pick up his leash. Tell him to bring it to you and 'drop it' right into your hands. Click and treat when he does.
Step
4
Repeat the step
Repeat the above steps of picking it up, bringing it to you, and dropping it in your hands. Introduce your command at this point. Try to keep the command simple like "Leash!" and you will have better luck.
Step
5
Simplify the task
Instead of using a series of commands (take it, bring it, and drop it), simply start using the key command word "Leash!" Each time he fetches his leash, be sure to click and treat.
Step
6
Association
Once your pup has associated the leash command with bringing you his leash, start taking him outside each time he brings it to you, even if it is only for a five-minute walk. The rest is all about repeating the training until he masters this nifty trick!
Recommend training method?

The In Your Mouth Method

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Step
1
Take the leash
While your pup is not attached to his leash, encourage him to pick it up with his mouth. Give him praise and a treat when he does.
Step
2
Practice
Practice having your dog pick up his leash and use the command 'leash' while he is doing so. Be sure to treat him when he does.
Step
3
Easy to carry
Now that he is picking up his leash, use a couple of rubber bands to fold it into a smaller package. Tell your dog to "bring the leash." Even if he only brings it halfway to you before dropping it, be sure to praise him and give him a treat.
Step
4
To me
Keep practicing the step above, but start giving him his treat only after he has successfully brought you the leash.
Step
5
Unwrap
Unwrap the leash and place it somewhere where it easy for your pup to reach it.
Step
6
Extend the distance
Give your dog the "bring the leash" command and reward him when he does. Keep working from further away from the leash until your pup will bring you his leash every time you tell him to and slowly wean him off the treats.
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The Small Bundle Method

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Step
1
I fold
Or in this case, you fold--as in you get to fold up your pup's leash into a small bundle that will easily fit in his mouth.
Step
2
Get your leash
Hold the leash in front of your dog's nose and tell him to "Get your leash!" while encouraging him to take the leash in his mouth. When he takes the leash in his mouth, heap on the praise and give him a treat.
Step
3
On the floor
Place the leash on the floor in front of your pup and give him the "Get your leash" command. If he does so, praise and treats. If he doesn't do so immediately, leave the leash where you put it and wait for a few seconds. If he finally picks it up, treats and praise. It is okay if you have to pick up the leash and hand it to him for a few attempts. This will help him understand you want him to pick up his leash.
Step
4
Move on back
With the leash on the floor, step back a few feet before telling your pup to get the leash. When he picks it up and brings it to you, praise and treats are in order. Keep increasing the distance until your pup will bring you his leash anywhere in the house.
Step
5
Keep practicing
The rest is all about practice, but pay close attention as it may not be long before your pup starts to associate bringing his leash to you with going outside. While this may be the ultimate goal, you may not be ready to take him out every five minutes.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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