How to Train a Pomeranian to Fetch

Medium
1-4 Weeks
Fun

Introduction

Training your Pomeranian to fetch can be a lot of fun for both you and your dog. Once she learns, it is a great way to make sure she is getting the exercise she needs, even if you prefer to play indoors.

However, Pomeranians do not have a strong drive to play fetch. As companion animals, they often prefer to bounce around doing their own thing and thinking up silly things to get a laugh rather than “follow rules.” Boring!

The trick is to make sure your Pom thinks that training is just a fun game that they are constantly winning! This keeps them excited and engaged to learn. Although your Pom is unlikely to ever have the ball drive of a Lab, they can certainly learn to love the game of fetch. 

Our guide will offer three ways to teach your little pocket pet how to play fetch, along with some handy tips to make sure you are successful with your training. 

Defining Tasks

Here are some tips to make the most of your training sessions with your Pomeranian:
  • Start in a quiet indoor environment without many distractions like other people or dogs.
  • Keep your spirits up and remember that fetch is a fun game, not a tedious chore.
  • Focus on rewarding success and set the bar low enough that success happens often!
  • Ignore, don’t punish, failure. It is just not necessary to punish a dog while they learn a fun game like fetch. Rewards alone are powerful enough to train this trick.
  • Expect to use food rewards in the beginning, but you can fade them out once fetch becomes a fun game all on its own.
  • Make sure to stop a training session before your Pom gets bored. This will leave him wanting more, and excited about the next session.
  • Find the right toy – Pomeranians can be very picky about what they carry around. You can play fetch with a soft toy or balls made especially for the little mouths of toy breeds.

Getting Started

We have offered three different methods to teach this fun game, but here is a guide for finding the one most likely to work best to train your Pomeranian to fetch:

The Tug a Plush Toy Method

Many Pomeranians are just not very interested in fetch, but they love a game of tug with their favorite soft stuffed toy. If this is the case for your Pom, this method is a great way to start training, using their enthusiasm to play with the tug as a reward for a game of fetch.

The Click/Treat Method

If your Pomeranian is motivated to train for food, small bits of high-value food rewards such as chopped chicken or even pieces of their kibble, then this is the method most likely to produce the fastest results. If you do not have a clicker, just use a sound such as “YESSSS!!” that you use to “mark” the correct behavior, followed by a food reward.

The Ball on a String Method

Do you have a Pom that just does not care about that ball in the least? This is an innovative way to get her more interested in the ball, with the long-term goal of training your Pomeranian how to play fetch. All you need is a small ball and a line of string 10-15’ long. 

The Tug a Plush Toy Method

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Step
1
Rules of tug
Make sure that before you use this method, that your Pom loves to play tug and already knows the rules of this game: No teeth on skin, no tugging uninvited, and “Drop it!” means what it says. Once she has these basics down, you can turn Tug of War into a game of fetch in no time by following these steps.
Step
2
Start a tug game
Start up a game of tug with your Pom, using her favorite tug toy. If you let her win a few times, it will keep her more motivated to keep playing. Then, win the tug and excitedly toss it a few feet away. It is likely she will go get the toy. Just ignore her until she brings it back for more tug. Repeat 5-10 times.
Step
3
Fetch!
It is now time to put the retrieve on command. Say “Fetch!” as you throw the ball. When she puts it in her mouth, give her some verbal praise. When she comes back, give her more verbal praise and a fun quick game of tug. Repeat often for a few days over several sessions.
Step
4
Switch to a ball
You can continue to play fetch with the tug toy, or you can transition to using a ball. Using the same commands you have been working on, see if you can get her to be interested in the ball. Play a little keep away with it and/or tug if you can get her excited about that. Now toss the ball a few feet away, using the word “Fetch!” which she now has some practice with. If she retrieves it, reward her with a game of tug with her plush.
Step
5
Keep trying
If your Pom isn’t ready to transition to the ball just yet, go back to enjoying the game of fetch with the plush toy for a while. Try some softer balls and keep working with her until she understands that the game of fetch will result in a fun tug, even when she plays with a ball!
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The Click/Treat Method

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Step
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Interesting ball
With your clicker and high-value food rewards in hand, sit on the floor with your Pom. See if you can get him interested in the ball by picking it up, waving it around, smelling it, or otherwise being goofy with that ball. Drop it just a few feet away and as soon as he goes to sniff it, click/treat.
Step
2
First touch of the ball
If he goes to sniff the ball again, click/treat. If not, do what you need to do in order to make the ball interesting again. Repeat the click/treat 10-20 times, each time your Pom puts his nose to the ball.
Step
3
Raise the bar
Over time, you are going to start pausing, waiting for a more aggressive nosing of the ball, then putting the ball in his mouth, then ball in mouth looking at you, then ball in mouth taking a step to you. This gradual process is called “shaping” and it involves incrementally raising the criteria that you will use to reward your Pom.
Step
4
Distance
Continue the process above until your Pom is reliably picking up the ball and bringing it to you for a click/treat. At this point you can start adding some distance to the game for some added challenge.
Step
5
Outside
The next step is to take the game of fetch to a more distracting environment such as outside in your fenced yard. Once he really gets the hang of this game, you won’t have to always have food to play it. Start to gradually decrease the rewards you give for the game, choosing only the fastest retrieves to reward with a treat.
Recommend training method?

The Ball on a String Method

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Ball toy
Poke a hole in the ball and thread your yarn through it with an embroidery needle. Tie some knots at the end of the yarn so that the ball will stay attached. This toy is now going to be an enticing way to get your Pom interested in the ball.
Step
2
Have fun
For the first session, just play for 5-10 minutes with the ball on a string, doing whatever it takes to get your Pom interested in the ball, and being sure to enjoy the time spent together.
Step
3
Reward
The next session, have some tasty rewards handy. Keep playing with the ball on a string until your Pom puts her mouth on the ball, at which point praise and reward. Continue to loudly praise and reward each time she mouths the ball.
Step
4
Raise the bar
Keep repeating the above step, looking for a chance to reward her for picking up the ball and bringing it a step towards you. Praise and reward. Continue to gradually increase the expectations before rewarding until you are closer and closer to the final game of fetch you are looking for.
Step
5
Outside
Once she knows the basics of fetch you can add distance to the game, as well as taking it outside to the yard. Be sure to start with short tosses when you play the game near new distractions.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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