How to Train Your Dog to Play Baseball

Medium
1-6 Weeks
Fun

Introduction

There is no doubt that Charlie is a true member of the family. In fact, you’d rather snuggle up on the sofa with your dog in the evenings than you would with your partner most of the time. And let’s not forget that your dog probably has better table manners than your kids. You’re pretty confident Charlie has just as much energy. In fact, he may even have too much energy. While you wouldn’t change that, you could do with a way to release some of that energy so he spends some of his time napping, affording you some privacy. 

Training your dog to play baseball is the perfect way to channel Charlie’s energy into something safe and fun. In fact, it’s a great way to bring the whole family together as you all head out and play baseball together. If Charlie is tired after baseball, it also reduces the chances of him chewing your favorite rug to pieces too.

Defining Tasks

Owners are often surprised to learn training a dog to play baseball isn’t actually too complex. The trick is to get him familiar with the equipment and the rules gradually. To help with that, you’ll also need the right incentive. Food often works pretty well. Of course, simply playing with the ball is also usually fun enough. You may find if your dog isn’t too keen on playing, you’ll need to use some steps detailed below to encourage him.

If your dog is a puppy, then he should be full of energy and eager to please his owner. As a result, he could be playing baseball in just a week or so. But if Charlie is older and not the keen student he once was, then it could be several weeks before he gets the hang of it. Persevere with training and the rewards will be numerous. You’ll have a great game to keep your dog fit, lean, and strong!

Getting Started

Before you put on your gloves and start swinging, you’ll need to check that you have a few things. Some space to practice will be the first requirement. A large field or a yard away from other dogs and distractions is ideal. You’ll then need baseball equipment, plus a tennis ball. Friends and family members will also need to be enlisted.

Set aside around half an hour for training sessions, several times a week. Sneakers and correct safety equipment will also be necessary.

Once you’ve got all that, just head outside with a proactive attitude, then coaching can begin!

The Watch Me Method

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Step
1
Take it slow
Head out with a friend or two and your dog. Start throwing the ball to each other in a light-hearted manner. Don’t give Charlie any attention at this point. Let him sit back and take it in. This will help ease him into the game.
Step
2
Encouragement
Once he looks comfortable, you can start getting his attention by waving the ball in the air and talking to him in a high-pitched voice. Then continue to throw and hit the ball among your friends. He may then start to take an interest in the ball.
Step
3
Throw it nearby
If he still hasn’t actively started chasing the ball, try throwing it in his direction. Don’t throw it too hard as you don’t want to scare him and don’t throw it too close. If he doesn’t automatically run after it, have a friend start chasing after it too. The very fact that he may not get it could encourage him further to run after it.
Step
4
Reward
As soon as Charlie touches the ball, rush over to reward him. You can either let him play around with the ball for a minute or you can give him a treat. Verbal praise also won’t do any harm.
Step
5
Practice makes perfect
Now you simply need to reward your dog whenever he touches the ball. Keep encouraging him to chase it after it has been hit and baseball will soon become his favorite game. Once his tail wags most of the time, you can then slowly cut out the treats. By this point, he won’t need the promise of food any longer to want to play.
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The Basic Method

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Step
1
Fetch
Start taking your dog out regularly to play fetch. This straightforward game will teach him all the basic skills he needs. You can use a tennis ball for this part of training. Be animated as you play to get him excited.
Step
2
Baseball friendly
Secure Charlie to a leash and take him to a baseball training session. This will get him familiar and comfortable with the sounds, equipment, and location. Otherwise, you may find that he's scared and bolts when you start wanting him to play.
Step
3
Take it slow
To begin with, only play with a couple of friends and don’t throw or hit the ball too hard. Keep it fun at all times and encourage Charlie to get involved by running along with him and staying upbeat.
Step
4
Up the stakes
As he gets more confident, you can gradually increase the number of players and the speed of play. However, continue to praise him and hand over tasty rewards whenever he chases the ball and returns it.
Step
5
Keep it short
You shouldn’t train for too long to start with. You need to gradually build up his stamina. Then as he gets fitter, you can play for longer. Keeping training sessions short also stops him from getting bored.
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The Advanced Method

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Step
1
Set the scene
Head out to play baseball with a few friends or family members. Start playing, but remain animated and happy so that your dog can see. Charlie will automatically feel at ease if he can see that you’re all having a good time.
Step
2
Hold back
Now have a friend gently hold your dog by the collar as you continue to play. Because your dog can’t run towards the ball, he'll automatically be more eager to chase after it.
Step
3
Release
Hit the ball in Charlie’s direction. After a couple of seconds, release him so he can tear after it. You can also have someone run alongside him to encourage him further. As soon as he touches the ball, encourage him to run back to the place where it's needed by holding up a treat and calling him over.
Step
4
Reward
As soon as he has taken the ball to the right place or player, make sure he gets a generous reward. The better the reward, the more likely it is that he will repeat the action next time. If you use a clicker when you train, now is the time to click.
Step
5
Verbal commands
Now to keep your dog in the right positions. Issue a ‘wait’ or ‘sit’ command as you’re waiting for the ball to be hit. Do this every time and you will teach him important game discipline. Then you simply need to practice regularly until he's into the habit of following all the right rules.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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