When teaching your dog any new tricks, keep in mind that they naturally want to please you. This will help you stay patient and not lose your cool. In turn it will keep your puppy eager to continue to play and learn new tricks.
Here are 3 main steps with tips for each one that you can use to train your dog:
Part 1 of 3: Starting Early
- If possible, train from puppyhood. Training puppies is easier, as they are more responsive to new commands and will learn quicker. That said, you can teach older dogs provided you’re patient and keep persevering with consistent training and plenty of treats.
Part 2 of 3: Teaching The Drop Command
- Teach your dog to “drop it”. This is an important skill to learn first because the dog needs to know when to let go of any object she is asked to pick up.
- Hold a small object such as a ball out to your dog. Encourage her to take the object. Give her a treat as a reward for obeying on your command.
- Ask her to drop it. Motion downwards and touch your hand on the ground. When she drops the ball, reward her with a treat.
- Repeat until your dog understands “drop it” on command.
Part 3 of 3: Teaching Retrieval
- Choose an object small enough to fit into your dog’s mouth but too large to swallow. Favorite toys are a good object to begin with as she’ll be naturally attracted to it; it is recommended that you begin with a familiar object first.
- Squeaky toys work well to capture the dog’s attention.
- Roll or toss the toy near here, just a few feet away. She may want to mouth the toy, just to establish what it is. (We feel with our fingertips; dogs use their mouth.)
- When pup finally picks the toy up, do whatever you normally do to get pup’s attention with the intent of calling her to you. Praise her for picking it up.
- Toss the toy away from you now. The goal here is to get the dog to come to you and bring the tossed toy with her. Say “Fetch” and encourage her to go after the tossed toy.
- Always accompany the training with the word “Fetch!”, as ultimately this is the only thing you want her to understand for the entire process.
- When she picks up the toy, say “Good dog!“. Then call her back with “Come!”.
- Tell her to “drop it”, as she has learned to do earlier. Reward her when she brings the toy back to you and drops it.
- Repeat 10-15 times each training session. Practice several times each day. It won’t take long for her to know what to do. As she gets more familiar with the Fetch routine, switch out familiar objects for unfamiliar ones, such as a frisbee, a ball, a paper plane, whatever. Reward her with praise and a treat each time.
- Always choose safe items for Fetch.
- Use Fetch as a form of regular exercise. Soon your dog will be fetching from long distances; this provides copious amounts of exercise for you both!