How to Teach a Dog to Fetch?

Reviewed By Tom •  Updated: 09/07/20 •  10 min read
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Does your dog like to play fetch? Does he understand the game or does the game turn into a game of chase? We’re going to look at how to teach your dog to fetch—and make it fun for you both!

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Playing fetch with your dog

Playing fetch is a great game to play with your dog—it’s fun and great exercise, and it’s a great way to spend time with your furry friend. Most dogs instinctively know how to play fetch, but some dogs don’t understand the game.

Some dogs enjoy running after a toy you’ve thrown, but once they’ve picked up the toy they may begin running around or run off. They look back over their shoulder to see if you’re giving chase. This is when the game of fetch turns into the game of chase.

Other dogs have no concept of even running after a toy you’ve thrown. They look at you as if they’re thinking, “Now what?” or “Why on earth did you throw my favorite toy?!” Some dogs will expect you to fetch the toy and throw it again!

As you can see, it can be a challenge if your dog doesn’t naturally know the game of fetch. However, don’t give up hope of playing this fun game with your pet! There are some things you can do to help him learn how to play the game in the right way.

What is Playing Fetch?

If you’re not familiar with the game, it’s done by you throwing a ball or toy, your dog chasing after the toy, retrieving the toy and bringing it back to you. The game doesn’t involve “chase me” or “catch me—if you can.” It’s simply a game of throwing, retrieving and bringing the toy back.

How Do You Teach a Puppy to Fetch a Ball?

Teaching a puppy to fetch can be done in stages. Remember to have patience with your dog or puppy as they learn this fun game!

First things first—your puppy should learn the command to sit. This is a great way to start playing a game of fetch. Rather than your dog jumping on you to get the toy away, he should be sitting nicely waiting for you to throw the toy. So, teaching your dog to sit first is a good way to start out.

Next, your dog should know the command to “drop it.” The drop it command teaches your dog to drop whatever he’s holding and letting you have the toy or other item. This is another important part of playing fetch. If your dog won’t drop the ball, then you won’t be able to take it and throw it again. The game will already be over if your dog keeps the ball.

You don’t need any special tools to train your dog to play fetch—a clicker may come in handy as a signaler, treats can also be helpful. And don’t forget the toy. Choose your pup’s favorite toy—it doesn’t have to be a ball. The toy might be his favorite stuffed animal, rubber toy or it can be a ball. Just be sure it’s one of his favorites.

Now your puppy knows these commands, you can follow these steps to teach him how to play fetch:

1). Start in a small room, sitting on the floor with your dog. While you’re sitting on the floor, place the toy a short distance from you and encourage your puppy to pick it up. When the dog has picked up the toy, use a clicker to signal the dog he’s done the right thing, then you can choose to reward with a treat or a show of affection—whichever works better for your dog. Do this over and over until your dog understands picking up the toy.

As your puppy gains the trick of picking up the toy, put the toy farther and farther away each time

2). Next, teach your pup to bring the toy back to you. You might use a command such as “come” to signal them to come back, and then use the command “drop it” to signal them to put the toy down. When he does the right thing, use the clicker to signal and then reward him with a dog treat. You may need to teach your dog to do these in stages—working on one command at a time. Remember to reward him with affection or treats when he does the right thing.

Be patient—this process can take a while for your puppy to learn. You’ll need to repeat this process every day until your puppy learns the game. If you make it fun and use rewards he responds to, your puppy will learn in no time!

Once your puppy has learned to chase and bring the toy back to you inside the house, then you’re ready to try throwing the toy outside. This may be a little more challenging due to all the distractions outside—kids, other dogs, animals and people, etc. But be patient, firm with your commands and quick with your rewards. This is how do you teach your puppy to fetch a ball or other toy.

How to Teach a Dog to Fetch a Frisbee

Frisbees are fun for both humans and their dogs! Here, again, some dogs will take to it quite naturally, while others won’t have a clue what to do with a frisbee. The first think you can try is just throwing the frisbee and seeing what your dog does. Does he try to chase it? Then you’re already half way there! Does he just watch it fly away, then you’ll have to teach him how the game works.

Before playing frisbee with your dog, be sure to use a flying disc especially created for dogs. A regular frisbee, made for humans, is hard and could easily damage your dog’s teeth. Look for frisbees made for dogs—these will be made of material that has a little give. They won’t hurt your dog’s mouth or his teeth. Now you’ve got the right toy, you’re ready to begin.

Before you start teaching your dog this fun new game, first introduce him to the new toy. Some dogs will want the frisbee right away, while others will be more hesitant. If your dog is hesitant, then try using an incentive for him to take it. Use a treat, affection, or whatever reward works best for your dog to gain his interest in the flying disc.

From here, the method is the same as outlined above—teach your dog to chase the frisbee and return it. Once he catches on to this new game, you can both enjoy it. Eventually maybe your dog can be taught to jump in midair to catch his flying toy! Or he may do it naturally! Just have fun! This is how to teach a dog to fetch a frisbee.

How to Train Your Dog to Fetch a Beer

You’ve probably seen this on TV—a guy sits in his easy chair watching TV and signals to his dog that he wants a beer. The dog understands and bring a beer back for his owner!

Can you train your own dog to fetch you a beer? Yes!

1). Holding and carrying the can: first, you need to get your dog used to holding and carrying the can in his mouth. Most dogs will do this just fine—it’s a natural action for most dogs.

2). Fetching and retrieving: make sure your dog knows how to play fetch and retrieve—this is important! Otherwise, you’ll be chasing your dog down for the beer!

3). Retrieving a beer: place a can on the floor next to your refrigerator. Let your dog know he’s supposed to pick up the can and bring it to you. You can use a command such as “bring me a beer.” Do this over and over until your dog understands he’s supposed to bring you the beer can.

4). Opening the refrigerator door: tie a towel or rope on the door handle of your fridge. These are easier for your dog to grab onto. The door handle’s hard and could damage his teeth. Get your dog to tug on the towel or rope. When he manages to open the door, use your clicker to signal and then reward your pup for doing the right thing. Once he manages to open the door, have a snack ready on the bottom shelf of the fridge, and let him take the snack as a reward. Do this over and over until your pup understands he needs to open the door of the fridge.

5). Getting the beer: now your dog knows to open the door and get something inside, replace the dog’s snack with a can of beer. You’ll have to make sure he understands it’s OK to grab the can of beer—you may have to have a snack ready as a reward for when he grabs the can. Again, repeat this process until your pup understands it’s OK to grab the can of beer.

6). Bringing the beer: once your dog grabs the beer, now you can teach him to bring it to you. You might start out standing just a little way from the fridge and calling your dog to you. When he brings the can, have him give it to you by using a command such as “drop it” or “give it”—whatever works best. Each time your dog does this, reward him with a treat. Continue this process by standing farther away from the fridge each time and rewarding your pup, until finally he’s bringing your beer to you in the living room, etc.

Again, be patient. It may take a while before your pup understands how to play this new “game!” This is how to teach your dog to fetch a beer.

Train Your Dog to Fetch Newspaper or Teach Dog to Bring Slippers

You can train your dog to fetch other objects, too! Some owners like to teach their dogs to fetch newspapers or slippers. Is this OK? Sure, as long as your dog enjoys playing and receives a reward for good behavior.

Train your dog to fetch newspaper using the methods above. The same will work to teach dog to bring slippers. The object is make the game fun for your dog!

Training your dog to play fetch may take some time—be patient. The rewards of playing fetch with your dog are hours of fun together, and a pup who will bring you a cold beer on a hot day, or bring slippers to warm your feet in the winter!


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Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!