How To Teach A Dog To Fetch

When it comes to playing in the park, fetch is one of the most popular games to play with your precious pooch.

However, while some dogs like Golden Retrievers and Border Collies are naturally driven to fetch and return objects, some other breeds are stubborn and just aren’t interested in fetching.

How To Teach A Dog To Fetch

However, it is possible to train your dog how to fetch – but how do you do that?

Here we are going to look into how you can teach your dog how to fetch in a few basic steps!

Where To Start

Before you start off teaching your dog how to fetch, first take them somewhere with a lot of space and little distraction.

You may already have enough space in your backyard, or have a different place in mind where you can start your training in peace.

You will also need to make sure that you have the right kind of toy for your dog.

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, so a small dog like a Bichon Frisé will struggle fetching something like a large disc.

You will also want to consider the condition of your dog’s teeth and choose something softer if they are prone to dental issues.

Popular toys used to teach a dog how to fetch include the ever-faithful tennis ball, or even their squeaky variants.

Larger dogs do well with larger balls like soccer balls, or flying rubber discs.

Rope toys, plush animals, and retriever bumpers are also popular choices – so consider your dog and what they like before choosing the perfect toy!

Once you have the right toy and enough space, it’s time to start training!

How To Get Your Dog’s Interest

Some dogs will see the toy and go nuts – they’re already interested in it and want to play. Other dogs…take a little more convincing.

If your dog is not interested in playing fetch or the toy you have, then here are a few things you can try to make them more interested in learning to play.

The first thing you can try is to tease the dog with the toy and make sure that it has seen it and knows what it is.

Try playing tug of war with your dog using the toy to get them interested in it.

You can also try putting treats alongside the toy, especially if your dog loves treats, and this is sure to help make the toy look more enticing to play with. You could even try rubbing paste treats over the toy to encourage your dog to chew it.

Once your dog is interested in the toy, it’s time to start teaching them how to fetch!

How To Teach Your Dog To Fetch

Start out by throwing the toy just a few feet. As your dog catches or runs to get it, make sure to cheer them on and show how pleased you are. If you are using a clicker then click them initially as they pick up the toy.

This will encourage them to continuously chase after the toy. Call them back and take the toy, praising them for bringing it back. Click again if you are using a clicker when the toy has been returned to you.

After that, you can then throw the toy back out again but a little further each time.

As the distance gradually increases, they will start to understand the game – and will have learned how to play fetch!

Common Problems

Not all dogs will be willing to return the toy once they have it.

This is a very common problem when teaching a dog how to fetch – when you try to call them back, they won’t come near you and will instead run around and start to play with the toy.

A great way to fix this is bait-and-switch. This method involves a second toy that you use to tease your dog back to you.

They may drop the other toy or bring it back with them, but either way, throw the second toy in another direction so you can go and retrieve the first toy.

Then, repeat the process again with the first toy, switching back and forth between the toys.

Over time, your dog will learn to bring back one toy because they anticipate chasing another one.

This may take some time but they will soon learn that you intend to throw the toy again when they bring it back and eventually, you can drop to playing with just one toy.

Hints And Tips

Training your dog to fetch can take a while, but the key to success is patience on your part.

Some dogs are smarter than others and will pick up the game quickly, but others just need more practice and attention.

Another tip is to make sure that your dog understands a few basic commands.

If they know to come when called, then it makes the game easier when they’ve fetched their toy and returned it.

Two great commands are ‘come’ and ‘drop’ – this will make your dog understand what they should do when they retrieve their toy, which is to bring it back to you and to drop it at your feet.

You can also play with them by commanding them to stay and then throw the toy – so commands really do come in handy when teaching them to fetch.

You should also reward your dog every time they fetch as this is a great way to encourage them and reinforce their behavior.

Such rewards can be extra petting and even treats. If they don’t run after the toy immediately, try running after it yourself.

Your dog will copy your behavior and chase after the toy with you, and then they will eventually learn the game!

Remember to praise them when they start running to reinforce this behavior.


Teaching your dog how to play fetch is a great way to keep them active and healthy even when you are limited on space.

Not only is the game a good way to stimulate their mind and keep them happy, it’s also a great way to make them move around more and stay fit.

Although walking is a great form of exercise for dogs, running around and playing can be a huge benefit for their bodies.

So, grab a ball and your dog’s leash, take them to your nearest dog park and let them have some fun with some fetch training!

Here is a video demonstrating this really well:

Daniel Johnson

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