Playing ‘fetch’ is a great form of mental and physical exercise for dogs. Moreover, the game provides an excellent opportunity for you to bond with your dog and teach her to share.
While some dogs are instinctively great at the game, many dogs struggle to enjoy it. Well, it is a hard game to follow! Your dog needs to 1) run after the toy, 2) put it in their mouth, 3) run back to you, 4) drop it and 5) be ready to do this again. That’s a lot!
Some common ways the ‘fetch’ goes wrong:
- Your dog chases the toy, but doesn’t show interest in returning with it
- Your dog runs after the toy, but settles down to play with it instead of coming back to you
- Your dog picks up the toy, and runs away with it
A common mistake is to force the toy out of the dog’s mouth. This is unpleasant for the dog, and will make him less likely to return with it. An alternative is to teach your dog the ‘drop’ command separately, and to use it when playing ‘fetch’ until it your dog understands the game. Ginger was almost a natural at the game because she’s a Golden Retriever. Retrievers were bred to fetch game, and their instincts guide them to be great at ‘fetch’. But she too had to learn to ‘drop’, which took a lot of time and patience.
Finding the right toy to fetch is important too. Ginger loves to chew on sticks. So every time we tried to play ‘fetch’ with a stick, she would settle down to chew it rather than return with it.
So, pet parents, I’m sure you have funny and frustrating stories about teaching your dogs to ‘fetch’ too. But remember, be patient, go step-by-step and don’t give up on your dog!