Teach a dog to fetch begins with first of all, picking a favorite toy or object that is small and easy to throw and retrieve. This can be your dog’s favorite doggie bone, ball, or Frisbee. Do not use sticks as these are dangerous to your dog’s mouth as well as to others. Now by starting out walking with your dog tied to a leash you are holding in your hand, hide this favorite toy first, show it to your dog, and then throw it a short distance away.
Now release your dog from the leash and say “fetch”. The most likely response of your dog is to chase after the toy and retrieve it for you. Now repeat the same process by throwing another similar toy and saying “fetch” once again. It is likely that your dog would drop the first toy in favor of fetching the second toy.
Teach a dog to fetch may not always be that smooth a process. There would be cases of dogs that are not sufficiently motivated to fetch. You can motivate your dog by praising it, rewarding it with some food, or giving it your extra attention and playtime. Failing that, you can try the manual retrieval method, which involves walking your dog to the object after throwing it, and waiting for your dog to pick it up.
Be sure to reward, pamper, and comfort your dog once it has picked up the object. Repeat this step a couple of times on other days, and then finally, try the original method of commanding “fetch” to your dog. There would now be a much higher chance of your dog fetching the object more enthusiastically now.
Teaching your dog to fetch involves keeping the key concept in mind, that dogs work best on positive love, care, and encouragement, and not on negative punishment, scolding, and reprimanding. Do not attempt long distance throws and focus your dog on short distance throws first. Also, ensure to keep the fetching toys purely for fetching only.
This helps to make the toys more ‘special’ to the dogs, so that they are not playing with them all the time. If they were to be playing with these same toys at home most of the time, there is much less excitement to them in fetching these toys outside.