In episode 58, Sean responds to a question from some listeners about how to teach your excited puppy the rules of playing fetch.  These exercises are designed to structure a puppy’s fetch game.  A quick note that this isn’t designed to teach fetching to a dog that has absolutely no inclination to fetch.  Also, you should be a little cautious in teaching an unbridled fetch of a tennis ball or some other toy with a dog you intend to hunt with. (hunting dogs can develop some bad habits with unstructured ball fetching without also working specific rules of hunt fetching)

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In this session:

How can I teach my retriever puppy the rules of fetch?

Is this podcast designed to teach and dog to fetch when they have no inclination to fetch?

Should I play ball fetch with my hunting puppy?

Details In this Session

Stuff you’ll need:

  • Long line
  • Two identical fetch toys
  • Food
  • A hungry retriever puppy

A few different fetching situations (we’re dealing with situation #3)

  1. A dog that has no interest – starting the conditioning with picking up a toy etc. A little pain staking
  2. A dog that’s actually going to hunt – there’s a specific protocol for that but if you’re going to hunt in all likely hood you’ll probably have a hunting kennel you’re working with and they’ll take you through all of that.
  3. A retriever (could be a border collie, GSD, etc.) A dog that likes to fetch and chase the ball but doesn’t know to bring it back – essentially doesn’t understand that rules of fetch.

There are 2 phases in this exercise:

  1. The food phase (pup’s on a long line)
  • Get your pup excited – tease and lure with the ball
  • Associate the “fetch” cue with throwing the ball
  • Cue “bring it up” as soon as he picks up the ball and lead him back with the line, and back up away from him
  • Once he gets to you, place a treat right on his nose and say “drop it”
  • As soon as he drops it, grab the ball as you give the treat.
  1. The toy trading phase
  • Same protocol as above except once he comes back you stick the treat to his nose and begin waving ball number 2 in front of his nose.
  • Give him the treat for dropping ball 1 and then excite him with ball 2 and throw it.
  • Gradually, begin teasing with ball 2 and see if he’ll drop Ball 1 to fetch ball 2.
  • Note: be sure to cover ball 1 with your foot so it’s no longer an option to pick up

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Let me know how your fetching goes with your puppy.

All the Best,