Close your eyes and envision what a picturesque afternoon in the park with your pooch would look like. Your agenda would likely include a good ‘ol fashioned game of fetch. Despite its popularity, however, not all canines are ready to get their game face on and adhere to commands. Training your dog to play a fun and interactive game of fetch is an effective way to help your pup learn crucial cognitive skills while ensuring they get a healthy dose of exercise.
Teaching Your Dog to Fetch: A Step-By-Step Guide
The best way to get your dog in the right mindset to adopt new commands is to begin teaching him or her how to play fetch inside your home. I know what you’re thinking, “Did this girl accidentally eat some of her dog’s kibble this morning?” (Hint: I didn’t). As crazy as it sounds, by starting indoors, your pooch will be able to focus with minimal distractions. This is only temporary – I promise you’ll be playing outside in no time.
Step 1: Playtime Starts with You
You know how a plate of food can send your pooch into a salivating state of sudden hunger? The same concept applies here. Invest a few minutes of your time in playing with the ball, stick, frisbee, or whatever object you elect to use, on your own. Toss it in the air, bounce it around, wave it in the air – the movement alone will attract your devilishly handsome pup’s attention.
Step 2: your dog‘sWagging: Now What?
Once you’ve captured your fun-loving canine’s interest, gently toss the ball towards your dog. If your dog follows the toy and scoops it up in their mouth, celebrate the victory with some clapping to reinforce the good behavior. When you’re starting out, avoid using the “come here” command with your pup, as dogs have a tendency to stop what they’re doing (a.k.a. drop the ball) and race over to their favorite human. If he or she only trots back halfway before dropping the ball, create more distance by moving backward. While doing so, continue to clap and cheer on your dog as a means of encouraging your pal to continue moving the ball in your direction.
Step 3: Wait, Spot! You’re Running the Wrong Way.
Let’s say your frisky pooch grabs the ball but starts running away from you. In this instance, mimic your pup’s lively spirit by going for a run yourself – except in the opposite direction. Dogs LOVE a good game of chase and will have a hard time resisting your invitation. It takes a conscious effort on your part to play the role of chase-ee. As humans, we’re naturally inclined to run towards our fuzzy friends. To avoid drawing out the training process, however, it’s imperative to teach your dog to chase after you.
Step 4: Hooray! They’ve Brought the Ball Back
your dog is a natural genius! They brought the ball back and dropped it near you. When this occurs, you’ll want to grab the ball and instantly throw it back in the other direction. Resist the urge to hold onto the ball and begin petting your smart cookie. After all, gaining your pup’s interest means continuously engaging in the game of fetch. Trust me, your pooch wants that ball again. After you’ve played for several minutes, then you can reward your dog with a tasty treat and lots of affection.
Just like teaching your dog a new trick, training them to play fetch takes patience, time, and attention. You know your dog’s personality best, so use tactics that have proven to suit your pooch’s particular needs and have worked successfully in past training sessions.
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