SESSION 58: Fetch! – Teaching your puppy the rules
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)
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:
Two identical fetch toys
A hungry retriever puppy
A few different fetching situations (we’re dealing with situation #3)
A dog that has no interest – starting the conditioning with picking up a toy etc. A little pain staking
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.
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:
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.
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.
I’ve been training people and dogs in Seattle for the last decade and a half. My main focus when working with clients every week in one-on-one, private lessons is to help people learn to get their dogs to a functional level so that they can actually enjoy spending time every day with their dog instead of stressing about their dog’s behavior issues.