TRICK: How to Teach Your Pet Supreme Fetch
There are three types of dogs in this world: dogs that don’t care about fetch, dogs that fetch but don’t retrieve, and Labradors.
Unless you have a Labrador or live in a perfect 1950s Pleasantville, (in which case you probably have a Labrador) you’ve most likely had to face the crushing reality that a lot of dogs don’t have the fetch instinct.
Plenty of dogs will happily run after a thrown toy, but then refuse to bring it back — or they might pick up the toy and make you chase them around just for funsies. Other dogs are more interested in the hair between their toes than the fetch toy you’re trying to get them excited about.
The point is that your dog probably won’t instinctively run after a toy or ball and bring it back like the dogs in the movies. That doesn’t mean they won’t and it certainly doesn’t mean they can’t. Almost any dog can be taught to fetch and just about every dog will quickly learn to love it.
Fetch is a great way to get your dog exercise that will stave off health problems like obesity, and provide an energy outlet to curb any destructive behaviors. It’s also a handy way to tucker them out so they get the sleep they need. Plus, it will keep them mentally stimulated and strengthen your bond together.
The Basics: Come
First, you’ll need to teach your dog how to “come.”
- Gather some treats and a clicker (learn more about clicker training for dogs).
- Move a few feet away from your dog, crouch down, and hold out your hand.
- Encourage them to touch your hand with their nose.
- When they do what you want, immediately click to "mark" the successful behavior — to let them know exactly why they are getting the treat — then give a treat and praise them.
- Repeat until they start to understand what you want (probably about 10–20 attempts).
- Move farther and farther away and repeat.
- Once they understand the behavior, start using a marker word like “come” or “over here,” and repeat with clicks, treats, and praise.
- Add distractions like other people, toys, or head out into your yard to test their skills.
Now that you can properly call your dog, you can enjoy an amaizing game of fetch.