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How To Teach A Dog To Play Fetch – the Easy Way

 

Fetch and dogs go together like scones and jam. Dogs large and small enjoy the thrill of chasing a tennis ball or frisbee and then retrieving it so they can do it all again.

But why do they do it? What is it about a game of fetch that dogs find so irresistible? Let’s find out.

 

Why Dogs Play Fetch 

To us, the idea of repeatedly chasing and fetching something sounds pretty dull. Still, for most dogs, it is a fantastic and enjoyable way to spend time. Many dogs were specifically bred for hunting and retrieval.
This includes:
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • Spaniels
  • Setters
  • German Pointers
  • Weimaraner

Although our dogs are now pets, they still retain that instinct to hunt and retrieve. So fetch is essentially a game of hunt and retrieve, chasing the ball or frisbee and bringing it back to you.

Fetch is the perfect game for dogs as it is self-rewarding. You throwing the ball for him to chase is his reward for retrieving it, so the cycle continues. Additionally, as your dog exercises, his brain will release the chemical Serotonin, also known as the "feel-good" hormone.

The best part about a game of fetch is that it strengthens the bond between dog and owner while also encouraging your dog to remain focused and engaged with you.

Certain breeds of dogs will only engage in fetch or retrieval when they have competition. Rottweilers are a prime example. They may show little to no interest when alone. Still, if they see another dog playing fetch, their competitive nature takes over.

 

Choosing The Right Sized Ball

When it comes to choosing a ball for your dog, size does matter. But, unfortunately, your sweet little Pomeranian will not be able to pick up the same sized ball as a Great Dane!
The ball should be small enough for your dog to comfortably pick up and carry in house mouth, but slightly larger than the width of their mouth. This prevents the ball from getting stuck in your dog's mouth or throat. In addition, your dog should not be able to close its jaws together while carrying the ball.

As a guide, we recommend the following sizes:

  • SMALL: breeds such as Pomerania, Chihuahua and Jack Russell
  • MEDIUM: Collies, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Bulldogs and Spaniels
  • LARGE: Labrador, Golden Retriever, Rottweiler, German Shepherd
  • X-LARGE: Great Dane, Newfoundland, Greyhound

If you have a puppy, you will need to start with small balls and monitor his play sessions as he grows, so you can gradually increase the size of his toys.

 

Crunch Air Balls are perfect for small and medium dog breeds. The balls feature KONG Tennis material specially designed to be gentle on teeth and gums. In addition, crunch Air balls are made from durable material, so fetch games can last even longer. Finally, the fabric creates a crunching sensation when your dog bites to keep him interested. 

 

 

KONG Rubber Ball Extreme is the ideal ball for medium, large or giant breeds. The durable, puncture-resistant KONG rubber means enthusiastic chewers can play with this ball without shredding it to pieces. In addition, the ball is made from thick rubber, which creates the perfect bounce for interactive fetch sessions.

 

 

Combat Toss and Pull Toy is a great option for puppies and small breeds as the ball is attached to a padded canvas body by a tough rope. If they can't manage to pick up the ball, they can use the rope or canvas body to enjoy their fetch sessions. The Toss and Pull is made from ballistic nylon, so it is capable of withstanding rough play. It is also great for teething puppies with strong seams and a thick, durable rope. The Toy is even machine washable!

 

Teaching Your Dog To Fetch

Most dogs will naturally get the hang of fetch without any guidance or training, but this guide will help if your dog does any of the following:

  • Chases but doesn’t retrieve
  • Retrieves but refuses to drop the ball
  • Doesn’t show much interest in fetch

This step-by-step guide is ideal for introducing the idea of fetch to your dog and training him how to retrieve and drop the ball for you.

1. Start with his favourite Toy. This doesn't have to be a ball. It could be a frisbee, tug or plush toy. You want your dog to be excited and engaged, so using a toy he likes is a great way to get his attention.


2. Teach him the “drop it” command. It may seem strange to start at the end, but if your dog starts to enjoy playing fetch but hasn't learnt to drop the ball, the game cannot continue.


The easiest way to do this is to give the Toy to your dog and let him play with it for a few seconds. Then show him a treat. He will naturally drop the ball to take the treat. Give your "drop it" command as he drops the Toy and allows him to take the treat. You will need to repeat this training for 5-10 minutes at least once per day. 

 3. Wean out the treats. You don't want to have to give your dog a treat every time he fetches a toy. Instead, the game itself should be the reward. Once you know your dog understands dropping the Toy, only give him a treat once every 5 times. The remaining times you should reward him with lots of verbal praise and giving him his Toy back.

4. Now we need to focus on the retrieval. Throw his Toy and wait for him to chase after it. As soon as he picks it up, call his name. Next, give your "drop it" command and reward by offering a different toy or a quick fuss. Keep repeating this technique to build up the behaviour. This last part of the training completes the game. He has learned to chase it, bring it to you and drop it. He will also have to realise that by dropping it, you will throw it again, so his play session will continue.

 

So there you have it. A quick and straightforward way to teach your dog to play fetch and the perfect toys for his size and age to keep him engaged and entertained.

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