Teaching fetch quickly and easily. How?

Fetching is a favourite activity for many dogs. Some dogs have it in their genes. Others must be shown how it is done before they start enjoying it. As with all other commands, positive motivation and rewarding are important. How to go about it?

Teaching your dog to fetch is a matter of patience. So before you set off for your first training, make sure you have plenty of it. Some dogs take longer to understand the score with the stick, ball or a different object which you keep throwing for them. 

You will need some treats, a favourite toy and a string. First, make the dog intrigued, play with the toy and fight over it. If the dog is not interested, try again later.

After a short warm-up game, throw the toy a few metres away from you and say "fetch" or another command, such as "retrieve", etc. When the dog picks it up, say "here". The dog should come to you with the toy and let go of it when you say "drop". 

This is the ideal example. But what to do when the dog starts running off with the toy? You have several options.

If you are a sporty type, you can motivate your furry friend to bring the toy to you by slowly running away from him and shouting "here". The dog should instinctively start running after you. When he reaches you, say "drop". Voice-motivation really works.

Are you not too keen on running? Use a string. Tie a piece of string to the toy and say "fetch" but when the dog gets to the toy, you say "here" and start pulling the string with the toy back towards you. Keep rewarding your dog to make him understand the whole fetching process.

Before you start, your furry friend should know basic commands, such as "here" and "sit". And why sit? Because correct fetching starts from the sitting position. As soon as the dog fetches his toy and drops it before you, make him sit again. And reward him. 

If your four-legged friend likes to swim, try fetching in water. The advantage is that the dog does not have many options for running off with the toy - unless he gets out on the other side of the river :). 

In summer, it is important to prevent the dog from overheating during fetching and from an extreme change in temperature when jumping into water as it could cause a shock. 

In winter, make sure that the dog does not overheat inside before getting cold outside. After an activity, it is ideal to go home with the dog. If you decide to continue walking, dress him in a light dog jacket. 

Never do fetching on asphalt or concrete. The benefit of them filing their claws is not worth the risk of having their paws burnt. That type of terrain is generally not ideal for dog activities. It is better to choose the woods, a park or water. 

Do not forget to take with you a travel bowl and water. 

Fetching should be a short activity and it is better to repeat it several times during walking, rather than fetching for an hour without a break. Start with only a few minutes of training to prevent the dog from getting bored.

Good luck and many hours of successful fetching!

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