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You knew your Boxer puppy was going to be playful, but you didn’t quite realize how much energy he would have. You seem to be able to play with him for hours yet he still bounds up to you wanting more attention. He seems to tire you out more than the other way around. What you need is an effective way to channel his energy into something productive. Ideally also ensuring he spends at least some of the time napping in the evening, giving you some peace and quiet.
Fetch is the ideal game to teach him. Not only is it fantastic exercise, but it’s also a great way for you both to bond. In addition, it’s an effective way to start doing some obedience training, which will help teach him a range of other commands too.
It may sound like a straightforward command, but there are a number of parts to this action. Boxers are intelligent dogs and fast learners. However, training will require first teaching him to chase after something and to then return the item. To do that, you will need to motivate him to want the toy by using the 'Pull-Back' method. You will then need to find an attractive lure to get him into the habit of returning the toy.
If he’s full of energy and keen to please then you could see results in just a few days. If he’s a bit more stubborn and not such a great listener then you may need a couple of weeks. Get this training right and you will have an effective way to exercise him. You will also lay the groundwork for a range of other fun games.
Before you start training, you will need to get your hands on a few bits. You will need something to play fetch with. Brightly colored frisbees, tennis balls, and sticks often do a good job.
You will then need a decent supply of mouth-watering treats. Alternatively, break his favorite food into small pieces. You will need to train in a large space, such as a yard or local field. Avoid training inside, you may break something.
Once you have all of that, just bring patience and a can-do attitude, then work can begin!
The Pull-Back Method
Spend a few minutes each day playing with a toy at home. Play tug of war and get him as worked up as possible. To do that, talk in a high-pitched voice and get animated. You can also leave the toy in his bed over night. You want him jumping up at the sight of it.
Now take him out into the yard or a local field. You will also need a friend or family member with you. One of you will need to hold him. The other person will need to walk ahead with the toy.
While one of you is holding your Boxer's collar, the other needs to throw the toy in front of him. Make sure it stays low enough to stay in his eye line and point to it afterwards if he’s struggling to spot it.
Hold & release
Don’t release him to run after it for a couple of seconds. By simply holding him back you are making him want to run after it even more. So, once he’s pulled a bit, let him go and encourage him to chase it down.
Call him back
In a high pitched voice, call his name and encourage him to run back to you. You can also pat your legs to further motivate him. If that doesn’t work, hold up his favorite food or treat and use that to lure him back over. Only when he’s dropped the toy should you hand over the reward. Practice this each day and he will soon get in the habit of chasing and then returning the toy.
The Dual Toy Method
Spend a few minutes each day playing around with a couple of toys. Play tug of war with them both and really make this time the highlight of his day. Boxer puppies are particularly playful, so this part should be straightforward.
Head out to your training arena with your Boxer in tow and one toy on show. Then keep the other toy hidden in a pocket and out of sight. When he’s paying attention, throw the first toy. Shout as you throw it to get him excited.
Hold out the second
Once he’s got to the first toy and picked it up, hold out the second toy. He will naturally start charging towards you. However, don’t throw the second toy just yet. You need him to drop the toy he has in his mouth first.
Once he’s dropped it, throw the second toy in the opposite direction to the first. It may take him a little while to drop to start with, but he will quickly catch on.
Continue with this technique for a few minutes each day. Before you know it, he will be used to returning whatever it is you throw him in anticipation of the second toy. You can then cut out the second toy and just use the one toy for fetch.
The Long Line Method
Take your Boxer puppy out into a local field or yard. Make sure you also have an irresistible toy with you. A brightly colored frisbee is often effective. Also, make sure you have him on a long leash. This will help teach him to return a toy.
While holding onto the leash, throw the toy. Don’t throw it too far to start with. Also try not to throw it farther than the leash will extend. The longer leash you have the better. Encourage him to then chase after it by pointing and talking in a high-pitched voice.
If he doesn’t automatically come back to you, give the line a little pull. If that doesn’t work and he’s more interested in being alone with the toy, start running away from him. As soon as he sees you running away, he will start chasing. Shout in a playful voice as you go.
Let him catch up with you, then hold out a treat in front of him. The smellier the treat, the more likely he will be to give up the toy. Hold it up, but do not hand it over until he drops the toy. Once he does, give him the reward, along with some verbal praise.
Lose the leash
Practice like this for 10 minutes each day. This will soon get him into the habit of running back to you each time with the toy. At this point, you can lose the leash, he will know there is a tasty treat waiting for him if he returns. After several days without the leash, gradually cut out the treats too.
By James Barra
Published: 01/30/2018, edited: 01/08/2021