Has your puppy turned a nice game of fetch into a feisty game of keep away? Does she seem more interested in running away to chew the ball then drop it for the next toss? Do you have to wait until she is done with the ball before you can retrieve it for another hopeful throw?
These are common problems, especially for puppies that are new to the game of fetch. The solution is to train the command “Drop it!” or implicitly make dropping the ball her job before she gets another toss. Luckily, it is easy enough to do, provided you follow a few simple guidelines.
This guide offers some helpful advice to identify reasons why your puppy may be more interested in keeping the ball than handing it over. In addition, we offer three easy methods to train your puppy to release a ball when you want her to.
A real game of fetch is right around the corner! Read on to find out how.
No matter which method you choose to train the release, the first step is to eliminate any ways that you might be inadvertently training your puppy the opposite of what you want.
First, stop chasing after your puppy to get the ball. If you are guilty of this mistake, join the club. It is almost an instinctive move to go after a puppy that refuses to let the ball go. However, from his perspective, you are just playing a game that is way more fun than giving up a ball – the game of keep away!
When you play keep away with your puppy, you are rewarding him for NOT dropping the ball, probably the last thing you want to do.
Another common mistake is to yell at your puppy as she approaches with the ball. Yelling commands at your puppy does not yet understand will not help her understand. In fact, it is more likely than not that her interpretation of your frustration is her coming close to you with the ball, so, she runs away.
Instead of getting frustrated, focus on the power of rewarding the right behavior, and you will find that your puppy will learn that releasing the ball when asked is the most rewarding choice she can make.
Depending on which method you decide to use, you will need to get some gear ready for your training sessions.
The Trade Method
Have a bag of very small pea-sized treats ready to “trade” for the ball. Don’t worry, over time you won’t need the food motivators. Our step by step instructions will show you how to fade treats once the behavior is well understood.
The Two Ball Method
Use this if your young canine is very excited about chasing the ball. Chances are, a new throw is the reward you can use to teach her that only releasing the ball will get a new toss. Two identical balls are the ideal equipment for this method.
The Tug Method
A soft and inviting tug toy is an excellent choice for training your furry friend to release a ball. He can’t hold a ball and play a quick game of tug at the same time! This will only work as a technique if he already really enjoys a tug.