How to Train a Golden Retriever to Fetch

Medium
1-4 Weeks
Fun

Introduction

Many people who own Golden Retrievers believe that fetching and retrieving are often assumed to be part of the package with these family-friendly, happy-go-lucky dogs. Although Goldens are inherently bred to retrieve, that doesn’t mean they will automatically know what to do without some consistent, positive training.

The Golden Retriever is a people-pleaser, and with the right attitude and lots of patience, you can quickly teach your pup to fetch. Devoted and loyal, your Golden will be more than happy to accompany you on any adventure that involves running and playing. Be prepared for a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of false starts --- your dog may do more chasing than fetching at first. Stay patient and upbeat, and your Golden will be fetching for you soon.

Defining Tasks

Aside from honing your Golden Retriever’s inherent talents, teaching your dog to fetch has other beneficial rewards. Goldens require large amounts of exercise, and because they are an intelligent breed, they often need engagement and stimulation so they don’t become bored and destructive. Fetching is an activity that will keep your Golden on her toes and in good shape.

This training process and its result will also strengthen the bond between you and your dog. With the Golden Retriever’s energy, exuberance, and retrieving instincts, fetching will develop naturally as long as you guide her properly with positivity and consistency.

Getting Started

Have a tennis ball or favorite toy on hand for your dog to learn to fetch. If you clicker train, this is an excellent type of training in which to use it. Be sure to have some treats in your pocket with which to reward your dog when she does what you ask of her. When starting this training process, try to choose a location with minimal distractions so that your Golden’s focus is entirely on you and your commands.

Stay upbeat and positive at all times. If you become frustrated or discouraged, take a break for awhile then try again later on in the day. Training sessions may initially start out short but will gradually increase as your Golden learns to fetch and learns much fun she can have while doing so. Be patient, and your Golden will be bringing back that tennis ball to you like a pro.

The Back-Chaining Method

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Step
1
Choose a special toy or ball
Select one of your Golden Retriever's favorite toys or balls and use this toy for fetch only.
Step
2
Pick up and place in hand
Encourage your Golden to take the toy in her mouth and drop It into your hand.
Step
3
Toss the toy
Once your Golden is comfortable picking up the toy and placing it in your hand, take the toy and throw it short distance from you (around a foot or so).
Step
4
Be patient and build distance
Don't throw the toy too far at first. Start small and build up to larger distances.
Step
5
Go fetch!
Gradually increase the distances that you throw the toy. When your dog brings the toy back near you, call her to you and when she gives you the toy, praise and reward her.
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The Two Toy Method

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Step
1
Choose two dog toys or balls
Select two of your Golden's favorite toys or tennis balls.
Step
2
Throw one toy
Keeping one toy in your hand, take the other toy, show it to your dog, and throw it.
Step
3
Praise during the chase
While your Golden races after the first toy, praise her in an upbeat, happy voice.
Step
4
Call back and response
Once your Golden has the first toy in her mouth, call her back by showing her the other toy you have in your hand. Your Golden is likely to see the other toy, come racing back to you, and drop the toy in her mouth in front of you.
Step
5
Throw and repeat
Once your Golden has brought the first toy back, throw the second one in the air. Repeat this process two to three times per day until your Golden has mastered the art of fetching.
Recommend training method?

The Sock Method

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Step
1
Grab some old socks
Find a pair of old socks and roll them into a ball.
Step
2
Work indoors
Select a hallway or other narrow area of your home to work in.
Step
3
Throw the socks
Throw the socks down the hallway. Your Golden should go running after them.
Step
4
Catch and hold
When your Golden brings the socks back and tries to walk past you, stop her. Catch the pup and hold her in your lap, then grab the socks and throw them down the hallway again.
Step
5
Repeat
Repeat these training steps no more than three times a day. In no time, your Golden puppy will be a fetching master!
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Mimi
Golden Retriever
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Mimi
Golden Retriever
2 Years

Hi! My dog used to love fetching balls. All of a sudden he stopped doing it and I don’t know why. What do you recomendo for me to attract her interest again?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
128 Dog owners recommended

Hello! You might want to try to refresh the game with him. Or re-train it. Sometimes dogs just lose the know how when it comes to commands or other behavioral items. Taking a few days to teach it to him again may be all he needs. How to Teach Your Dog to '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, click, 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. Caution: See why you should avoid throwing sticks for your dog. 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, click, treat, and praise. Continue this little dance until you’re sure the behavior has stuck. Dog Catching FrisbeeStep 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, it's time to click, 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, click, 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.

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