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Teach Your Dog to Fetch

Teaching your dog a few simple tricks, like how to sit, how to shake a paw and how to fetch, is fun, entertaining and rewarding for both you and your pet. Before you start teaching your dog to fetch, it’s best if your dog knows and responds reliably to the basic obedience commands of sit, stay and down.

When you feel your dog is ready to learn more advanced tricks, like how to fetch, start by grabbing the object he loves the most. It could be a ball, a squeaky toy or a stuffed animal. With your dog on a long leash, give the sit command and wait for him to sit. Then, take the object and toss it a short distance. Give the command “fetch” and let your dog run after the toy. Once he has it in his mouth, gently draw him back to you by using the leash. Show him a tasty treat and give the command “release.” Then wait for your dog to give the toy to you willingly – this is a very important part of training him to fetch well. Make sure you don’t play tug-of-war with your dog to get the toy back from him. Once he gives the toy up willingly, reward him lavishly with treats and lots of praise.


Once your dog has learned how to reliably bring the object back to you, remove the leash and have him fetch on his own.


A more advanced form of fetch is teaching your dog the names of different objects. Once he understands and is able to do the “fetch” command, work with one object at a time (a toy, a ball, a stick) and call it by name until he can identify the object by name. For example, if you want your dog to get the morning paper for you, start by throwing the paper and giving the command “fetch paper.” Only when your dog brings the paper back to you should you give him his reward of a treat and/or praise. As your dog learns the names of different objects, give him a mental workout by laying out three or four different objects and asking for them by name.


Continue to practice this over and over again. Always use a happy, high-pitched voice to praise your dog and give lots and lots of positive reinforcement when he does things right. Eventually, your dog will understand what you want him to do and will be able to fetch all kinds of different things for you by name!


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