Retrieving. Some dogs can do it. Some dogs are naturals. Some dogs even have the word “retrieve” in their name. Some dogs are definitely a work in progress when it comes to retrieving. Whether you are training your dog to bring back the BEE AYE ELLE ELLE (aka ball, for those of you who shouldn’t say the word out loud), pick up their toys or even head to the refrigerator to get you a cold one, the art of retrieving is teachable!
Teaching your dog how to fetch a toy or ball is usually the best place to start. Not too overly complicated and the reward is something that they already love to chew and slobber on. Some dogs are naturals. Some dogs will run after the toy, stop dead in their tracks, look at you, and then ignore the toy. The art of chase, pick up and retrieve is all part of the sequence.
Not The Shoe!
Choosing the right toy to start with is key. Make sure you don’t make the mistake of using any of your human items, or you just might have to purchase a shoe store to keep stocking the dog toy bin. A tennis ball is of course the most obvious choice. The sacred green orb is usually just the right size and shape for most dogs to easily retrieve. Plus, there is the bouncy factor which most dogs can’t resist. A rubber or plastic bumper is also a top dog favorite. These are especially good for pools, lakes and oceans as they float. Of course, for the ultimate dog over achiever, there’s nothing like a flying orb..i.e. the frisbee! The modernized version, the tail-spin flyer, is soft and gentle on their teeth, yet durable for hours of fun.
Go Get It
A good old-fashioned game of tug-of-war will introduce the idea of fetch. Start by play tug with their favorite toy, then tease them by shaking it and tossing it a few inches away. If they grab it immediately, then continue with the tugging game and next time throw it a few feet farther. If they just give you a blank stare, then wiggle the toy on the ground until they find the toy irresistible. Follow with more tug of war and then tossing it. Repeat. And then repeat some more. Encourage your dog to come back to you by reaching for the toy and tugging on it. When they lightbulb clicks on and they realize that bringing the toy back leads to more epic tugging games, they will be eager to fetch!
If tugging is not your dog’s game, try treats instead. Toss a toy and continue to praise and treat even if your dog simply looks at the toy. As your dog walks/run/bunny hops to the toy, praise and treat. Encourage your dog to come back to you with the toy. When he does, praise and treat.
Clean Up Time
So you have a problem. You can’t stop buying dog toys. As your dog gets more and more spoiled with 400 ropes, stuffies, squeakies and chews…who is going to clean all of them up? Well, the dog of course! First you must find a box that is low enough that the dog can easily “drop” the toys in without difficulty. Begin by teaching your dog to drop a toy when you tell them. Give them their favorite stuffie, hold a treat in front of their nose and say DROP right as he open his mouth for the treat. Repeat and repeat. Next position the dog with the toy in the mouth over the box. Tell them to drop so that it falls into the box. When your dog drops the toy, put the treat inside the box so he puts his head in to retrieve it. Next, start throwing the toy and when he brings it back, tell him drop and reward with another treat in the box. Once your pup has mastered “drop” now it’s time to add the “clean up” command. Give the clean up cue as the dog goes to get a toy. Your dog will eventually catch on that “clean up” means to grab a toy and drop it in the box.
I’ll Have Another
Man’s (and woman’s) best friend can also be your bartender! Want to teach them to retrieve an icy cold one from the frig? First, make it easy for them to open the refrigerator door by hanging a towel/rope on the handle. Second, you need to draw his attention to the towel and reward they when they touch it with their nose. Give a ton of praise for them biting the towel. User clicker training to train them to pull down on the rope. Reward your pooch with a treat and use the clicker when they learn to open the door. Lastly, we recommend beer cans (not bottles) during the learning curve. Finally, crack one open and enjoy! Want to see a pro do it? Click here to see bartender Clyde!