Teach Your Dog to Fetch

Teach Your Dog to Fetch

By Tammie Rogers for Exceptional Canine

Teach Your Dog to Fetch

Any dog can be taught to retrieve objects on command. Some breeds have a natural, genetically driven inclination to fetch, but others do not. So if you’ve been having retrieval problems at home, it’s likely you’ll have to teach your dog to fetch. It helps to provide clear, concise information to your dog about your expectations to take, pick up and, finally, retrieve any object you choose.

Your Patience Will Pay off
When you place the object on the floor and remove your hand, expect your dog to act as if she doesn’t understand what you’re asking. Some dogs do not know they can pick up the object off the floor and hold it if you are not also grasping it. You need to help your dog understand. This is a point in training where your patience will be highly rewarded. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Put an object on the ground.
  2. Tell your dog, “Take it.”
  3. Stand up.
  4. Remain calm, relaxed and patient.
  5. If your dog stands perplexed, remain quiet and maintain a gaze directly at the object on the ground.
  6. Once your dog picks up the object, tell your dog to hold, then give -- at which point you take the object.
  7. Praise and reward your dog.

If your dog cannot grasp the idea of picking up an object from the floor if you’re not holding one end, for another few days try putting it down and picking it up while allowing your dog to hold on to the item. Then try the above method again.

Once your dog is able to pick the object up off the floor and hold it until you take it from him on the “give” command, you can add a bit of distance to create the actual retrieve. This is where the reliable “sit” and “come” commands come in handy.

Practice the “Carry”
Some dogs seem confused by the requirement to carry an object. In this instance, it’s worth breaking the exercise down into a sequence of small steps.

  1. Sit your dog.
  2. Have him take an object and hold it.
  3. Step backward about 2 feet.
  4. Call your dog using the “Come” command.
  5. Expect your dog to drop the object and come to you. Don’t get frustrated or angry if your dog drops it.
  6. If your dog comes toward you holding the object, instruct your pal to sit.
  7. Expect your dog to drop the object; many dogs do.
  8. Tell your dog, “Give,” and then take the object from him.
  9. Praise and reward your dog when he gets a step right.

If your dog has trouble with the above sequence, keep practicing. She’ll eventually get it with enough time, patience and praise. The effort will pay off for both of you in many future fetch sessions.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/Elliskaboo

Exceptional Canine expert Tammie Rogers is the author of the 4-H Guide to Dog Training & Dog Tricks. She and her husband, Robert, operate DarnFar Ranch, a professional dog-training facility near Brownstown, Ill. Rogers instructs service-dog training and livestock herding, and she teaches 4-H dog training classes.