Fun isn't just for youngsters! If you have the pleasure of adopting a mature canine, you'll soon learn that old dogs can certainly learn new tricks. And those tricks don't have to be all business; some of the best bonding time you can have with your pooch is during play!
Everyone's go-to game with their dog is "fetch". But what may surprise you is that not all puppers are born knowing the concept of this simple pastime. Some need to be taught the rules, and that's okay too!
Fetch is the classic game between owner and dog where the human throws an object (usually a ball, toy or stick) and the pooch runs, retrieves the item and brings it back. The beauty of fetch is that it tires your dog out physically and mentally while you don't even have to break a sweat. When dogs get the hang of it, it's an activity that they love! Some pups even become fetch-obsessed, trying to keep the game going long after you're over it.
Thankfully, fetch isn't a difficult game to teach your four-legged friend. Generally, after a few sessions of fun, most dogs pick up the idea just fine. The sooner that you help the old boy or gal learn to fetch, the sooner you both can be having fun together!
If you want good results, make sure you come to the table with all the right things. Good things to have when training an older dog to fetch are:
If, at any point during the game, your dog simply stops interacting, don't punish him! Losing interest just means that session is over. There is no need to associate negative things with an activity that is supposed to be fun. It's also important that you make sure your dog is able to run before participating in fetch. Some older dogs are just not mobile enough to retrieve.
Below are some of the most popular methods to teach your fur buddy to fetch. See which one sounds the most doable for you, or try out a few ways and see what one suits your canine companion best.
She’s a little shy of photos but she has the “oh honey” southern lady sympathetic paw placement down to a T! She’s genuinely sweet but we’re beginning to question her (and my own) intelligence when it comes to the fetching task. She loves the soccer ball and goes after it- she will come back to me when I call her- but as of yet, not with the ball.
Hello Addy, First, know that the majority of dogs don't naturally bring the ball back on their own - so that is normal at this point. I suggest working on the grabbing and holding portions of fetch. Check out the article I have linked below and focus on "Part 2. Teaching Take It" and "Part 3. Teaching Come" . Those parts of the article will discuss how to train your dog to pick something up with their mouth "Take It" and to come to you WHILE holding the object still - "Come". https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-to-fetch/ Also, check out the videos linked below for some visuals of how to get a dog interested in biting and holding a toy initially before beginning a formal fetch. It typically involves games of tug of war and lots of silly movement. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtpLvumSTzI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-uUQE32FuU Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
My Dog flash- a greyhound once raced, over lockdown I have been doing training to improve his recall. he is doing great as you can see in picture one but... I would love for him to play fetch- he plays fetch with treats and has the chase instinct- plays in the house and plays for 5 mins in the garden but doesn't even look or touch a ball at the park- done lots of research about environment but seems like a battle that will never work. he also has his moments where he choses to play- I can't seem to get him to play when I want him too. he has to be in the right mood- so how do I get my dog to confidently just pick the ball up when I ask and play at the park with the ball because its right enough watching all the videos on how to refine a fetch but flash doesn't even pick up the ball at the park so how am I supposed to refine it ! thanks for your time
Hello Abi, First, know that some breeds simply aren't driven when it comes to fetch. You can teach it the way you would a trick - by breaking down the game into a series of commands to provide pup with exercise, and practicing those commands around distractions gradually until pup is reliable, but the overall enthusiasm is partially personality and instinct - for example, retrievers not only have a chase drive, but an actual desire to bring something back to you. Border Collies are instinctually driven to both chase and fetch (bring back animals). Many sight hounds have the chase instinct but not the herding/retrieving drive naturally. There are additional games like flirt poles and treat hiding games that can be played too when that's the case. With that said, check out the article linked below and the teaching the Take It command specifically. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-to-fetch/ I also recommend teaching Hold, since pup might be prone to dropping the ball on the way. https://wagwalking.com/training/hold-an-object Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
He has no interest in toys or balls
Was this experience helpful?
My dog has no interest in wanting to fetch toys. Sometimes if something’s she’s interested she’ll run over to it sniff and lose interest quickly. Wondering if there were any ways to get her more interested.
Hello! Your best bet is to teach her that if she picks up the toy, she gets treats. Below are some steps for introducing toys, and teaching fetch. Step 1: Introduce the Fetch Toy Once you’ve picked out a good toy, introduce it to your dog so they start to get excited about fetch. Place the toy near you. As your dog gets close to it, praise, and give a treat. If they touch their nose to the toy, click, praise heavily, and give treats. Continue this process until your dog reeeally likes the toy. Step 2: Move the Fetch Toy Around Now that your dog is starting to figure out that touching the fetch toy means treats, start moving it around so they have to move to get to it. Don’t throw the toy yet, or even move it very far. Simply hold the toy in slightly different positions — at arm’s length — and encourage your dog to touch it. Each time they touch the toy, treat, and praise. Continue this little dance until you’re sure the behavior has stuck. Step 3: Get Your Dog to Grab the Fetch Toy Now it’s time to start rewarding your dog when they actually grab the toy with their mouth. This can take a little patience on your part. The key is to watch your dog’s behavior and reward when it starts to look like the behavior you want. Place the toy on the ground at about arm's length. If your dog moves from touching their nose to the toy and begins using their mouth, praise, and treat. Each time they get a little closer to biting the toy, continue to reward. If and when they pick up the toy with their mouth, act like it’s the best thing you’ve ever seen (and don’t forget to click and give treats). Remember that your dog will be looking to you for reassurance that they’re on the right track Step 4: Play Little Games of Indoor Fetch At this point, your dog should know that placing the toy in their mouth means they get a treat. The next phase is perhaps the trickiest, but you only need to follow the same method of rewarding small steps toward success. Toss the toy a few feet away from you. When they pick it up, treat, and praise. Continue this until they understand what they’re supposed to do. Then toss the toy and encourage your dog to bring it back to you. When they do, click, treat, and praise. Step 5: Throw the Fetch Toy Farther Once your dog has realized that they get treats when they get their toy and bring it back, start "upping the ante" by throwing the toy farther. It might help to find a hallway (which will reduce distractions) and toss the fetch toy farther and farther away. With each successful fetch, offer treats and praise, then toss the toy a little farther. Repeat as many times as necessary for your dog to understand what this fetch game is all about. Step 6: Add Some Words This part is optional. If you would like to add a marker word like “fetch,” now is the time to do so (when your dog is successfully fetching their toy). Say the word before throwing the toy, then lay it on heavy with treats and praise when they successfully fetch for you and say something like “good fetch.” Of course, it’s not necessary to say “fetch” or another similar word. By this point, your dog has probably learned to enjoy the game itself — with or without a verbal cue. Step 7: Take the Game of Fetch Outside Up to this point, you’ve been playing fetch inside, where things are nice and quiet. But now it’s time to head out into the world where distractions are plentiful. Begin in a fenced space, such as a backyard or other enclosed spot. If you don’t have such a yard, try a quiet fenced-in park or other public place. Go during times when there aren’t other dogs or people; at least, when there aren’t too many other dogs and people. If your dog isn't yet good at going off-leash, learn how to train them and be safe when off-leash. Be sure to bring some treats with you, as you’re now asking your dog for a little more effort and they’ll need a reward for everything to sink in. Play fetch like you would at home, tossing the toy farther and farther away and rewarding your dog for successfully bringing it back to you.
Was this experience helpful?