One of the joys of a fur parent is seeing her/his pooch follow commands such as fetch and drop. Most dog owners love to brag how intelligent their dogs are, and no one can blame them. In fact, dogs are known to understand certain words like ‘sit’ and ‘stay’, and not to forget their ability to read human emotions.
In this article, I will be sharing with you some of the easy ways on how to teach your dog to fetch and drop. Taking your dog out on weekends for some fun is something to look forward to. Sometimes it is not enough that the only thing you can do outdoor with your doggie companion is to walk or run. There is so much more such as fetching a ball or a frisbee and learning how to drop these objects.
Once your dog has mastered the two commands, then you are in for a lot of adventures with your dog companion.
What’s the joy about fetch and drop?
- It is an awesome way to bond with your pooch. You’d be investing a lot of your time before your dog can finally learn the fetch and drop command. Don’t expect your dog to get it in one training session. The two of you would be out there spending days and hours enjoying each other’s company.
- Not only is it fun, but teaching your dog to learn how to fetch and drop is a good form of exercise. In a way, it is like hitting two birds with one stone- both of you become healthy, and at the same time, it is fun, fun, and lots of it!
How to teach your dog how to fetch a ball and drop?
Nothing beats early training. As soon as your new fur baby gets home, let it understand that it must follow your commands, lest you’d be on the losing end when it comes to obedience training. Teaching your new dog how to fetch and drop is a little bit different compared with teaching your dog how to sit. This is because it involves two actions that come in a sequence. So remember that patience on your part goes a long, long way.
Here are the easy ways on how to teach your dog the sequence of how to fetch and drop:
- Step A. Begin by teaching your pooch how to fetch an object. It could be a tennis ball or a frisbee or any type of dog toy. To encourage your dog to place the toy in his mouth, move the toy around or you can opt to wiggle it. The idea is to make your dog get interested in the toy.
- Step B. Once your dog gets the object, give your dog lots of praises. Do not forget to utter the word ‘fetch’ when your dog picks up the dog toy. You can give a tasty treat, or you can rub your dog’s belly.
- Step C. Repeat this process several times until your dog has learned to associate the word fetch with a tasty treat.
- Step D. Now, you can begin having more fun indoor. By this time, your pooch is already aware that it will get a reward from you if it fetches an object. Throw the dog toy farther away and then let your dog fetch it. If it follows your command ‘fetch’, then give your pooch the well-deserved treat. If it doesn’t, remain calm and patient and go on with the training until it learns to fetch at your command.
- Step E. Now is the time to level-up. You do not have to go outdoor yet, but this time, throw the dog toy much farther. The idea is for your dog to master that it should follow your command of ‘fetch’. Do this repeatedly and do not forget to reward your dog. By this time, your buddy already knows what the fetch game is all about.
- Step F. The next step is to teach your dog how to drop the dog toy. This command is all about teaching your dog how to let go of the dog toy when the verbal cue ‘drop’ is uttered by you. This command is very important because it can keep your dog safe when it has something poisonous in its mouth.
- Step G. Once your dog picked up the toy upon your command, get a treat, and place it near your dog’s nose. Now swap the toy with the treat and say the word ‘drop’. Keep in mind that when you say the word ‘drop’ say so with authority. Do this many times during your training sessions, and soon, your dog will absorb that knowledge.
- Step H. When your dog buddy has mastered the drop command, you can now level-up by teaching your dog the sequence of fetch and drop commands.
- Step I. After dropping the dog toy, throw it farther again and say ‘fetch’. Now encourage your dog to go back to you and then say the word ‘drop’. Again, repetition is the key to your dog’s learning.
- Step J. Once your dog has mastered this sequence, you can now begin doing it outdoors. You can use other types of dog toys like a frisbee or a small rubber chew toy.
The clicker training – another way of teaching your dog to fetch and drop
In clicker training method, you teach your buddy how to associate a sound with positive reinforcement (a treat or a belly rub). Here are the steps to follow:
- Step A. Buy a good clicker and let your dog associate the sound with a treat. Be consistent about it- click and then give a reward. Repeat numerous times.
- Step B. When your pooch has already associated the sound with positive reinforcement, then it is time to teach how to fetch.
- Step C. Use the fave toy of your dog. Play the toy with your dog until the excitement builds up.
- Step D. Throw the toy a bit far away from you and when your dog moves to get the toy, click and then give it a treat.
- Step E. Repeat the above process until your dog gets the idea that when you throw an object, he/she must retrieve/fetch it to get a reward.
- Step F. Then you can start training your dog outside so your dog has a larger space to move around. Throw the toy much farther and then click and when your dog fetches the toy, give a reward.
- Step G. Then comes the next sequence, which is to drop the toy at the sound of a click. After your dog fetches the toy, click and then give the positive reinforcement. At this point, your dog has dropped the toy on the ground to eat his/her treat. Now while it is enjoying its treat, get the toy again and offer it once again to your dog. If it gets the toy, click, and then give a treat once again. The dog will drop the toy to have the treat. Repeat the process until it understands that it gets a treat if it fetches and then drops a toy.
- Step H. There will be occasions when your dog will get bored and lose interest in the toy. I suggest that you buy a new toy and maybe purchase also a more palatable dog treat.
- Step I. Continue doing the steps, and soon your dog will learn that it will get something nice when it fetches and drops an object at the sound of a click.
My dog does not bring back the dog toy when fetching- what should I do?
I know this can be frustrating, but it does not mean that you cannot do anything about it. Not all dog breeds are the same. Some dogs are bred to retrieve things or animals. Examples of dog breeds which are pretty easy to teach the fetch command are Golden Retrievers, Border Collie, Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Malinois, just to name a few. If you find yourself in a difficult situation teaching your dog how to fetch, then try doing the following:
- Try buying a different kind of toy. If it does not want a ball, try using a toy that squeaks.
- Rather than use a ball, maybe use a stick dog toy or perhaps a stuffed toy.
- Choose a tastier dog treat. Change the flavor and see which variant your dog prefers.
- Like humans, some dogs are over-possessive. If your pooch manifests a guarding behavior, then watch out! If you show signs of interest in the dog toy, your dog will run away from you as a way of safekeeping the dog toy. For over-possessive dogs, the key is more patience and longer training sessions.
Some tips on how to be successful in training your dog
- Dogs have a short attention span. It is best that you limit your training sessions to three times a day for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Avoid throwing a toy up high, which may be too hard for your dog to catch. In fact, throwing a toy too high may only cause accidents such as rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament of your pooch.
- If your dog does not get the command during the first few sessions, do not raise your voice nor hurt your dog.
- Patience and perseverance will go a long way in teaching your dog the sequence of fetch and drop commands.
Extra tips: how to choose dog treats for training
For your training sessions to be fruitful, you have to buy dog treats which your pooch loves, lest it won’t show any interest in learning. If you notice that your dog isn’t paying any attention to you, then I’ve got some tips for you:
- For easy commands like sit, you can buy small kibbles. But in this case, since it is a series of two commands- fetch and drop, you need to buy a higher value dog treat. Examples are diced hotdogs and bacon-flavored treats.
- Dogs get weary easily. It is a good idea to vary the dog treats for each training session.
- Keep it small and soft. On the average, you’d be giving 30 to 40 dog treats for a 10 minute session. That means so much dog treats to be consumed, which can lead to obesity. Plus, by giving small treats, your pooch consumes it at a much faster rate, which of course, translates to faster learning.
Best toys for fetch
Choosing which toy to use is your discretion. Nevertheless, I will itemize some of the best fetch toys which your buddy would love to play with. As a precaution, always go for non-toxic fetch toys.
Keep in mind that teaching your dog the sequence of fetch and drop is not going to happen overnight. It requires repeated training sessions and as I have mentioned a while back, lots of patience.
Physical punishment is not part of the game but rather, be calm and understanding, and soon, you and your buddy will have great moments playing fetch and drop wherever it may be. To sum up the steps— throw the toy > dog fetches the toy > give a reward > throw the toy again > dog fetches the toy and then drops > gift the reward.