Dogs love to run and play! The game of fetch is an excellent way for your dog to get in both play and exercise with you. Fetch is a game where you throw something and your dog runs to retrieve the item and bring it back to you. If you were wondering how to teach a dog to fetch, all you have to do is find a favorite toy your dog loves and a place with lots of room to run, then follow the steps below. Some dogs may already know how to play and others may take a little work. Now, wake up your sleepy doggie! IT’S FETCH TIME!

How to Teach a Dog to Fetch


Choose the Right Toy for Your Dog

You will want a favorite toy when learning how to teach your dog to fetch, but make sure that the toy is safe for your dog. Small balls would be swallowed and something that chip or break would hurt your dog. Buy a few quality dog toys and experiment with them around the house to see which one is your dog’s favorite and how he reacts. Here are a few examples of good toys for fetch:

  • Flyer for dogs

  • Tennis ball

  • Flying disc for dogs

  • Squeaky toys for dogs

  • Rubber stick

  • Tug-of-war style ropes for dogs

  • Stuffed plush toys

  • Old socks tied together (clean!)

If you are having a hard time getting your dog to even play with any toy, just place a little chicken broth or meat juice on the toy to attract him. You can also place doggie treats in an old sock and tie it at the top.


Train Your Dog to Chase the Toy

You will need to know whether your dog is going to chase the toy or not when you toss it away from yourself. Some will run right after it, but some may lay down for a nap. If this happens, don’t be disappointed at your dog. He just needs time to learn. Here are a few ways you can spark your dog’s interest:

1. Play Tug-of-War

  • Get your dog to take the toy in his mouth and play tug-of-war. Then take the toy from your dog's mouth. Shake it a little in front of his face then toss it away, but not too far. If your dog grabs it, play this game again and toss the toy much further. 

  • If your dog just looks at the toy and totally has no idea about what it means, grab it and shake it in front of him again until he begins to show interest. Toss it before he is able to grab it from you.

  • Continue the above steps until your dog shows interest in the game. As he goes for the toy after you have tossed it, reward him by playing tug-of-war. Your dog will learn that picking up the toy after you have tossed it will lead to a fun game that he likes.

If your dog goes for it happily and goes back with the toy, he or her definitely knows how to fetch! Your dog is so smart!

2. Stuff the Treats into the Toy

If your best friend just lays there and looks up at you with puppy eyes, it means the tug-of-war thing doesn't work on your dog. Next, you can continue to interest him by taking a dog treat and put it inside the toy. Let him sniff out the treat, show him the treat and put it back inside and toss the toy. You can repeat this until he figures out there is a tasty treat for chasing the toy. When he finally goes after it, you can give him the treat.


Train Your Dog to Pick Up the Toy

1. Praise Your Dog

After your dog is interested in the toy, give it a toss and see if he puts mouth on it. If you don’t have any luck, you chase the toy yourself and grab it... But when he tries to grab it from you, show him praise and reward until he picks up the toy, then give him a treat. Keep tossing the toy further and further away from yourself and reward him with lots of praise and treats each time he picks up the toy.

2. Be Patient

Your dog may either stand there holding the toy in his mouth or drop it in place. Tell your dog to “pick up your toy” or “get your toy for me.” When he does, reward him again and give praise. Just be patient. You’re almost there!


Train Your Dog to Come Back with the Toy and Drop It

The last step in how to teach a dog to fetch is getting him to bring the toy back to you and drop it. While some dogs already understand to bring the toy back to you at this point, some are still a little bit stubborn. Try these simple tricks to finalize the deal:

Bait and Switch

  • Grab two toys that look the same. Use one of them to get your dog excited and toss it away from you. Tell your dog to “go get the toy.” As soon as he picks up the one you tossed, show him the other one you have. When he drops the toy in his mouth, toss the second toy away from you. Continue to do this as an exercise.

  • After doing bait and switch for a while, allow your dog to pick up the first toy you throw but keep the second one hidden and call him. He may just walk back to you holding the first toy in his mouth. When he finally does, tell him to “drop it.” Then show the second toy and after a while he will figure out to drop the first toy at your feet. When he does this, give a reward.

After some time, doggies understand that when you say “drop it“ they need to give you the toy. If you pick it up and throw it, they will just chase it and bring it back without even seeing a second toy. It just takes time and exercise. Good luck and enjoy the playing time with your dog!

Want to learn more easy tips for teaching your dog to fetch? Watch the video below:

  • Excite your dog even more by running from him as he picks up the toy. Stop and let him catch up to you. Give him a treat.
  • Do all the above steps 10 to 15 times each. Go through the routine every day and your dog will learn to fetch soon. If you repeat the routine daily, it will become a favorite game for your dog quickly.

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