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How To Teach Your Dog To Retrieve a Ball or Stick
Easy ways to teach your dog to fetch. Here are some of the best ways to teach your dog to fetch.
Some dogs are already natural retrievers, some are not. It lies in what selective breeding has left of them of the instinct.
A Golden retriever may be easier to teach to fetch than a greyhound, but a greyhound can learn to retrieve too. Dogs that aren't usually associated with hunting and retrieving, such as border collies, can excel at retrieving since the instinct to follow and chase an object is strong in them.
My own dogs are mutts but love to chase and retrieve a ball, stick or Frisbee. It did take a lot of practice though, to get them to bring it back.
The Forced Retrieve and Negative Reinforcement Method Of Teaching A Dog To Fetch
I don't recommend this method. It involves a negative stimulus such as jerking on a choke collar, until the dog does the desired act of picking up the object. The dog learns that only when he does the right thing that the pain will end. I personally have a problem with this since the act of retrieving should be an extension of a dog's love of play and playing with its owner that it also loves and respects, not because of force.
Positive Reinforcement, The Best Way To Teach A Dog To Fetch.
First, good obedience training helps. Before working with retrieving objects, get your dog in the habit of coming to you when you call using treats at first, and then praise. Enroll them in an obedience class such as at Petsmart if you have the chance.
Often when first learning to fetch, your dog will want to play "come and get me" and beg you to chase him. This is natural. Don't chase after him or walk toward him, he will only run when you get closer.
To teach your dog to fetch start by praising your dog when they pick up the ball and then call them to you. Work in a small area, say a 10 foot radius at first.
When you teach your dog to fetch don't over do it the first session. Dogs are like small children in that they have small attention spans. Don't turn it into a negative memory by getting frustrated and always remember that you want your dog to think it is a fun game.
It is not negative reinforcement to use a long leash while you are training your dog to fetch. Gently pull in on the line when they pick up the ball and pull them toward you, praising all the way. Give them a treat in trade for the ball and repeat again and again as long as they think it is fun.
Use simple language that is consistent, such as "bring" or "fetch". If they ignore the command then ignore the dog. They will learn that if you ignore them the game is over and most dogs will want to keep playing for longer than you will.
My border collie for example will keep retrieving a tennis ball for hours if there is someone to throw it.
Don't over work your dog when teaching them to fetch, especially when it is very hot.
Sometimes genetics will overcome good sense, such as the time we drove off with a rotating sprinkler in the yard only to return three hours later to find her chasing the water drops and having beaten down a four inch path of mud in the lawn. She nearly collapsed from exhaustion.