Dog Training: Fetch – Improving the Retrieve

teaching a dog how to fetch

We’re going to be talking a little bit about how to improve our retrieve. Has your game of Fetch-the-Ball turned into Fetch-the-dog? Well, don’t worry, you’re not alone. A lot of my clients have this problem their dog loves to chase the ball… They’re just not so fond to bring it right-back they either want to say, “come on come and chase me” or they wanna just go on finding themselves a spot over there where they can just chew on it gnaw on it, rip the skin off of it, what have you.

But, what we want to do its focus on how to train a proper retrieve or “Fetch” which means to get it and bring it back to me. We also need to take a look at who are the players of the game and what are our positions and what it should be. Should be that you are the coach and your dog is the player, so that way you’re calling the shots… you are saying when this game starts when this game stops, and everything in-between.

So, that way the dog is getting the physical exercise running and chasing the ball and bringing it back, which is great because you don’t have to do all that running your dog is getting that cardiovascular, physical exercise, but they’re also getting the mental exercise and the mental discipline of having to play according to the rules.

It’s sort of like if you were talking about children it would be the difference between a recess and playing on a team in an organized sport. There’s a total difference in value there. And, both are important.

But, you’re going to. You’re gonna get that 50-foot long line you can just let it drag on the ground you don’t have to hold it. Throw the ball they go to get it. If they don’t bring it back, you’re going to back up; you’re gonna be as encouraging as you can. With or without the leash, that’s a big key, right? Backing away, “Come on, bring it here, buddy, come on…” Don’t chase them! Rule number one, don’t chase them! Just make them bring it back.

But, now you have the leash if they decide they’re going to run around or they’re going to lay and chew on it? Mmmm-mmmm, gonna tap on that leash a little bit. Don’t give them a big, bad correction. We don’t need them to think they’re in trouble. We don’t want them to drop the ball. Just enough to encourage them back. Ya, it’s like tapping them on the shoulder.

“Come on… bring it over here.” Just a little, nk nk, nk, right? Bring them in. Worse case scenario, if that’s not working, if you have to reel them in all the way like a fish you can, but, again, don’t use a whole bunch of pressure. We don’t want this to be a big confrontational mess.

It’s just a tool to help you get them to bring it to you. Use the least amount possible but just to get your point across that this is how we play the game. Simple as that. Once you get them in, do it again.

Okay, so, here’s an important tip also… When you have built up, you know, you’ve been doing the ten feet, the fifteen feet the twenty feet, now you’re starting to hack it out there, right, they’re gonna start getting out to that fifty-foot mark, or beyond. Let go of the leash at that point. You do not want them to be running after the ball and hit into the leash. Right, they’re running and, “Oooff” they’re gonna think that they were in trouble for chasing the ball. So, be careful about that you don’t want that to happen.

pull a rope from dog

So, once you start chucking it towards anywhere close to the end of the leash or beyond the end of the leash, make sure that you’re not holding on to it, so they have the freedom to run it’s just there for you to pick up if you need it. That’s all, alright so how long do we need to do this?

Can’t say. It’s gonna vary from dog to dog, depends on how bad of a habit your dog has, how long have they been getting you to play this chase-the-dog game but it may take a week, may take a couple of weeks, may take a month, but the key is they’re going to do it consistently. Don’t do this for a day or two and then go off the leash and then on the leash and then off the leash. You’re gonna use this long line every time, so you get that consistency. That’s the key.

And, then what you’re looking for is that they are consistently always just bringing it back to you’re not having to use that leash. You’re not using the leash; you’re just thinking, “why is this leash dragging around?” It’ll be kind of obvious when the lease just feels like a hassle because you’re never using it. Right?

But, just remember, every time you ARE using it, every time you have to pull on that leash or tap that leash to get their attention, means there’s a good chance that would have went back into the old come-chase-the-dog game where “I’m gonna go lay over here and chew on the ball in the bushes” game. So, you’re looking for that regular consistent, “they’re playing the game right” then you don’t need the leash anymore.