Twin Cities Obedience Training Club
My dog, a retriever mix, will not fetch. Do I just have to accept it or are there ways of tempting her to go get the ball?
Some dogs are natural fetchers, while some have to learn. Start by playing with a toy by yourself in front of your dog. Pick an exciting one with a squeaker, some rabbit “fur,” or floppy parts. Toss it up and catch it, run around with it, pretend you’re having a blast. Completely ignore your dog. You might even want to do this when you’ve just come home and your dog is excited to see you. Then put the toy away. Do this several days in a row. If you notice your dog getting interested, toss the toy away from you, and run to get it. Does your dog race over there too? Once he seems interested, tease him a little with the toy. Hide it behind your back, let it peek out, run away with it. Eventually toss it away and let him get to it first. If he picks it up, praise him, then run away and see if he’ll come in your direction. If he doesn’t want to give it up, try trading him for some treats or an identical toy that you magically produce and start having fun with that one too! Soon he will figure out that the toy is boring when you aren’t part of the game. Option two: explore the wonderful world of clicker training and shape your dog to retrieve a toy or just about anything else!
Julie Humiston is head of the behavior department and an obedience instructor at Twin Cities Obedience. She also owns her own business, Puppy Love Dog Training. She has worked with dogs professionally since 1997 as a dog walker, pet sitter, dog trainer, and behavior counselor.