Barks and Rec, Minneapolis
My dog, a retriever mix, will not fetch. Is this something I just have to accept or are there ways of tempting her to go get the ball?
There are ways to make fetching more appealing. Break it down into steps and reinforce each one individually. First, you have to get her excited about the fetch object. Get her to follow the toy with her eyes rather than a full-on pursuit. Tease her with the toy and — using your clicker — click and reward each time she shows interest. Once she is consistently following the toy with her eyes, start to throw it. It is important not to throw it too far. Don’t expect her to immediately grab it and bring it back to you. At first, you just want her to chase after it. When you see her pick it up, give her lots of reinforcement. When she begins to pick it up consistently, you can use recall to get her to bring it back. Now you have a dog that enjoys fetch! Try a variety of toys. Bring her into the pet store and find something that she finds most interesting (squeakers can be great for some dogs but scary to others) and the training will come along a lot faster.
Alex is a graduate of the Canine Training Specialist program at Triple Crown Academy for Dog Trainers in Hutto, TX. He became a dog trainer to help families raise better dogs. Far too often, living with a dog can be stressful for people when all that is needed is a little training. He believes that a well-behaved and well-trained dog is a happy dog. This is what he hopes to provide for all his clients.