How to Teach a Dog to Fetch in 5 Easy Steps
Introducing a new game to a young puppy or even an older furry friend can provide countless opportunities for fun! Fetch has many benefits, from bettering your pup’s physical health to strengthening your bond together. Playtime can even help improve dogs’ intelligence! Follow these 5 easy steps to learn how to teach a dog to fetch.
Before You Get the Ball Rolling...
Early in the teaching phase, you’ll want to find a space where there are minimal distractions. Look for a small, enclosed place indoors to practice with your pup before heading out to a dog park or more crowded spot.
Step 1: Teach the Recall Command
Teaching your dog “reliable recall,” or the act of calling them to come to you, is the first important step when you teach a dog how to fetch. All you will need is an established verbal command (like “come”) and some dog training treats ready. Simply take a few steps away from your pup, show them the treat, and tell them to “come” using a positive tone. When your dog comes to you, immediately give them the reward. Each time your pooch succeeds, take a step farther away and repeat the action.
Step 2: Find the Right Toys
Once your pup masters how to return on verbal command, it’s time to add a toy to the game! Not all dog play toys are made for the same function; you’ll want to look for a fetch toy that keeps your pup interested, can be easily picked up, and is not too heavy.
Our Power Play Series offers a variety of next-level play toys, including the sports-inspired Gripz™ collection and fun Fling & Fetch toys, which feature easy-pickup shapes, enticing squeakers, and more. Plus, many of the toys are perfect for both indoor and outdoor games of fetch!
Photo: thegoldenboy_charlie on Instagram
Step 3: Challenge Your Dog to Return the Toy
While dogs are happy to chase after a toy, they may not want to bring it back. The best way to encourage your pooch to return the toy is to wait for them to pick it up before you call out the recall command from Step 1. When your dog comes back with their fetch toy, be sure to offer them loads of verbal praise. It may take a few tries, but your pup will soon make the connection that if they bring the toy back, they get to keep playing with you!
Step 4: Instruct Your Dog to “Drop It”
The next step of training a dog how to fetch is for them to let go of the toy. Hold your hand under your pup's mouth and repeat the “drop it” command. When the toy is eventually released, immediately reward them with a treat and praise. Keep doing this until they connect the words “drop it” with the act of releasing an item from their mouth.
Don’t be surprised if your pup occasionally wants to play tug-of-war with you instead of releasing the toy! The best way to discourage this habit is to immediately stop playing until the toy is dropped.
Step 5: Practice Daily
Practice is the most important part of training your dog how to fetch! It takes time to form a habit, especially if you are teaching a puppy who is in the process of learning so many other skills. With practice, patience, and lots of treats, your pup will become a fetch champion in no time!
When you are done teaching your dog how to fetch and think your pup is ready for a new challenge, try playing in the pool or at the beach! Grab a floating dog toy and toss it into the water for some extra-special playtime fun.