How to Teach a Dog to Fetch?

You have a dog and are very excited to teach them new tricks. The first trick you would want to teach your dog like many dog owners do, may be fetching. It is one of the common tricks aside from making them sit and making them give their paw on command. Fetch simply means to go for and to bring something. You teach your dog to fetch mainly toys or sticks. Dogs love to play fetch with their owner but it is not something they learn themselves. Many dogs are naturally attracted to chasing the thrown object and retrieving it for their owner whereas some might show less to no interest. Teaching them is also not an easy job. Don’t worry we got you. Here we are going to talk all about all the important steps in teaching your dog to fetch and also some key points to be remembered in teaching your dog this trick. With consistent practice, your dog will learn how to fetch perfectly.

You will need:

Before starting to train your dog you might need a few specific things that will help greatly. Here are the few things you need:

An Enclosed Space

This is optional but in the beginning, it will help you a lot. In enclosed places, there are fewer places for your dog to go. It also helps them to stay focused and teaching fetching also becomes quite easier.

Favorite Toy

When choosing the toy for your dog, keep your dog’s age, size, and ability in mind. Not all toys may be suitable for your dog or can be a great toys. Experiment with different toys and find the one that’s suitable for your dog. If the toy is your dog’s favorite toy then it will make them  more excited and teaching your dog to fetch will be an easy task. Here are some popular fetch toys we think that your dog will love. – Tennis Balls – Frisbee – Plushie Dog – Rope Toys


If the teaching session includes your dog’s favorite treat then it can be a great encouragement for the dog. You can also find treats that are specially designed for training the dogs. Use these treats wisely.


A dog training clicker is great for training the dogs. It is a positive reinforcement that makes it easy to teach your dog to do certain actions on command. It is also called a marker word. You can add commands like ‘fetch’ and ‘drop’. Now comes the important part. So, what can you do to help your dog learn to fetch like a pro?

Teaching your Dog to Fetch

You need to have great patience in you before teaching your dog how to fetch. It takes a lot of treats and fails to make your dog fetch properly. But the process of teaching the dog to fetch is quite a simple process. Here are the steps that you need to follow to teach your dog like a pro. Have your treats ready and follow these steps. And remember fetch is all about having fun.

Introduce the Toy to your Dog

In enclosed places try to garner your dog’s attention. To do so sit on the floor with the dog facing you. Then wave the toy or lure them with a treat by putting it near the toy to get your dog’s attention.  The enclosed spaces also provide extra help in preventing your dog from getting distracted. Provide treats to your dog as a reward for any attention you get. Now increase the criteria by treating it only if it comes near the toy or sniffed on it. Next wait to treat or praise your dog until it puts the toy in its mouth. This way you are reinforcing a positive impact on your dog by doing some action.

Introduce the Concept of Holding and Dropping

Now increase the criteria to get the treat more slightly. After your dog has started to put the toy in its mouth wait for a few seconds before rewarding it with a treat. Start building the duration slowly. When doing so introduce a clicker like ‘hold’ and then treat your dog. Once your dog is able to put the toy in its mouth for a long time. Introduce them to the ‘drop’ command. To do so, place your empty fist before your dog then use the ‘drop it’ command. Then reveal your empty fist and then treat them in any way to reward your dog. Repeat this action until your dog is able to do so without giving a treat. Slowly increase the amount of time between your dog putting the toy in its mouth to dropping it on your command.

Teaching Fetch

Now is the time to teach your dog to fetch. Place the toy at an arm-length distance and command your dog to hold the toy. If the dog moves from touching the toy with the nose then to the mouth then treat and then click. Repeat this process and reward them every time they get closer to biting the toy. Now slowly increase the distance by throwing the toy a bit further. Do not make the mistake of throwing it very far out from sight. So, enclosed spaces are best for teaching the dog fetch. Command them to go after the toy and every time your dog picks up the toy click and reward your dog. Repeat this until your dog gets an idea about what a fetch game is all about. Add verbals cue like ‘fetch’. Use this command before throwing the toy and provide treats when it fetches the toy.

Playing Bait and Switch

One of the useful methods to teach your dog to bring back the toy to you and give it to you is the bait and switch method. You will need two toys. First of all, you throw the first toy and let your dog chase it. Once the first toy is in the mouth of your dog, get your dog’s attention by calling its name. After you have your dog’s attention throw the second toy in the opposite direction. Your dog might drop the first toy so that it can retrieve the second one. When your dog is going after the second toy, you should run towards the first toy then call your dogs name again and repeat the process. This method will encourage your dog to come back at you, so the fetching game continues. As the time passes your dog will love this game and enjoy itself when playing this game. You won’t need to provide treats every time you play this game.

Play Fetch in Large Space

If you are confident that your dog can play the fetching game properly then take them to a large space where your dog can fetch for a longer distance. You can play fetch in the backyard or in the public parks. Making them fetch in a large area can be quite challenging as it is full of distractions. Bring some treats with you to reward them for being good. Play fetch as you would play at home and throw it farther and farther and reward your dog every time it brings back the toy successfully.

Things to Avoid

When teaching your dog to fetch, you need to avoid a few things. Teaching your dog fetching requires patience, practice, and positivity. So, the following things should be avoided. – Do not practice in unsafe places where it is not safe for the dog to run around. Like places as busy roads, extreme weather, and places where dogs can get easily injured. – When teaching your dog to fetch you want to reinforce a positive impression. This allows your dog to enjoy the fetching game. So, do not scold your dog when it doesn’t do as you want it to. If your feel frustrated then it is best to stay away and continue the next day. – Do not push your dog to practice more than its limits. Not every dog is able to play fetch.

In Short,

Fetching is a fun game and a great way for the dog and its human to bond over it. You can teach your dog fetching but do not assume that all dogs are able to learn to fetch. Not all dogs have the ability to fetch. They might have small bodies or short legs which make it impossible for your dog to run after the toys. So, why not teach them other tricks. Fetching is also a great exercise for your dog. It keeps your dog healthy mentally and physically.      
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Arun Sapkota

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