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How do you teach a dog to fetch?

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  • How do you teach a dog to fetch?

    It is probably asking for trouble, but she is clueless, and if she could fetch, she might be a happier dog. Frisbees and balls have no allure, and she isn't big on toys either. Any suggestions?
    Another killer of threads

  • #2
    Some dog's just aren't interested in fetch as a game. If you want to teach it anyway (as a command, not necessarily as a game) start by teaching "take" then "bring it" then gradually increase the distance the dog must go to fetch the toy. My dog knows how to go, grab things and bring them back. He enjoys it as a trick, same as weaving between legs, but he doesn't enjoy it for the sake of fetching. If you don't know how to teach take or bring it, I'd be happy to explain.

    If you are simply looking at excersizing or entertaining your dog, playing chase or interacting with other dogs may be a better choice for a dog who doesn't get it.


    • #3
      You can mechanically teach "fetch" by breaking it into its components. You start with teaching "take it" and "give" with the dog sitting by your side and taking the object from your hand/spitting it out into your hand. Then drop it on the ground. Then drop it six inches in front of dog. Rinse repeat increasing the distance.

      Out of curiosity, what breed is your dog?

      High prey drive breeds, like border collies, seem to get fetch much more easily than others. My LGD/BC cross? Nothing. Not a flicker of interest. He likes to watch the collies fetch things, though. I've never bothered to teach him to fetch, because he gets plenty of exercise being chased by the collies.
      I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


      • #4
        BUMMER!! Retrieving, or even a basic game of fetch is a great way to exercise your dog while still drinking your cup of joe in the AM, but I second BGH--they have to have an interest in retrieving, or else its kind of depressing.

        Maybe you could try CATCH, first with treats, then maybe w/a ball or toy? Expect the 1st bunch of treats to bounce off her head--toss them the way you'd teach a toddler to catch...ana one ana two etc..let her smell the treat so that she knows you have it--very exaggerated and tossed kinda high in the air, nice and close to her (no more than 6 ft). Be patient--Like kids, a few may bounce off her head , and also like kids, this can take a while, so stay very positive and upbeat. Its a decent alternative to dogs who feel retrieving is akin to dressage (YAWN), but she might morph into a retriever if you're lucky and patient.

        Also, does she have interest in chasing little furry stuff? Maybe you can attach a furry long toy to a lunge whip and see if she chases it--lots of greyhound/sighthound folks on here probably have great suggestions on working lure-coursing basics, but she'd be a-runnin!!

        If the catch-the yummy game working and down the road you do get her to catch a ball, as soon as she catches it (or picks it up), RUN LIKE HELL away from her, calling her. EVERY TIME. Even if she drops the ball in her amazement that you took off on her, NO PROBLEM--you want to condition her to run to you w/ball. Many people ruin their dog's retrieve ("he runs and gets the ball, but then plays keep-away") because they just stand there calling the dog, or worse, go toward the dog...ALWAYS MOVE AWAY--THE KEY TO A GREAT RECALL OF ANY KIND. ( If you need more help w/ the delivery, let me know)

        You sound like such a good mama--I can picture you chucking balls and frisbees and then having to go pick them up yourself--dog watching with non-interest bordering on mild contempt...been there

        Good luck!


        • Original Poster

          She is a total heinz 57

          I got her from a friend who livesa in the country. She was a stray. It took Susan 6 months to get her tame enough to catch.
          I am told a head like a Beagle. Short tan drop ears. Black saddle tan points, and a buff underbelly. NO TAIL. Not even a short one! About the size of an Aussie or a Springer.
          Of course, probably won't do much this weekend, too many distractions.
          My other dogs never would fetch either. I should add, I have had dogs all my life as a kid. After I grew up, just cats as I travelled quite a lot. When I got the two I had for years, I didn't train them, no one ever 'trained' dogs in my family. And when I took them to obedience classes, I was the first in my family to do so.
          I have taken Toff to basic obedience but she never got STAY. At some point, I would like to do agility, because I think part of her sadness is not having a job.
          The only trouble with the training, [and I don't want to get into a big thing about clicker training,] but trainer wanted to use kibble as a treat. I mean you will get the attention SNAP but is it because they want to please you or they want the kibble? If I take her for a walk in the park, I do not want a pocket full of kibble to keep her attention.
          I will try kibble catch though. It is at least a beginning.
          Another killer of threads


          • #6
            You can teach any dog to fetch- what you do is "back chain" the behavior starting with the ending.
            here's a video: http://dogclickerlessons.com/2010/10...asic-retrieve/

            and the book "The clicked retriever" goes through the steps very clearly.


            • #7
              Originally posted by wendy View Post
              You can teach any dog to fetch- what you do is "back chain" the behavior starting with the ending.
              here's a video: http://dogclickerlessons.com/2010/10...asic-retrieve/

              and the book "The clicked retriever" goes through the steps very clearly.
              That was great-gives me lots of ideas. Thanks for sharing!


              • #8
                People often get the wrong idea about clicker training because they get hung up on the food reward. The theory behind clicker training is variable reinforcement which means sometimes they get a cookie, other times not, and some times, usually when a behavior is offered correctly spontaneously a jackpot of multiple cookies.

                Think of cookies as a crest release it's a step towards automatic release where no food rewards are offered except for an occasional cookie.
                ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


                • #9
                  about clicker training because they get hung up on the food reward. The theory behind clicker training is variable reinforcement
                  uh no, if you're using a clicker you have to reward every single time you click in order to maintain the high value of the click (doesn't have to be food- a toy-crazed dog can be given his toy after you click). However, the clicker should only be used for the very beginning of training. Once the dog "gets it" you should put the clicker away and yes, start moving from "reward every time" to a system of variable reinforcement.

                  The "fetch" is a beautiful example of a behavioral chain where the dog learns to add in more and more behaviors before performing the final behavior. He only gets rewarded for performing the final behavior, but he's motivated to go through all the steps to reach that point because of how you teach it backwards.

                  Many people new to clickers accidentally train undesirable behavioral chains. Understanding how training the "fetch" behavioral chain works can help you understand how not to accidentally train undesirable behavioral chains.
                  Common one is formed while training the dog to not jump up on people- dog jumps, you ask the dog to sit, you click and reward. Dog quickly learns a behavioral chain- if he jumps up on you and then sits, he gets rewarded. Or you are trying to get the dog to stop barking- he barks, you call his name, you ask him to do something such as come and lie down, you reward. Now he's learned that if he barks he can perform this behavioral chain and get a reward. Probably he'll bark whenever he wants a reward.
                  Or you see obedience people (even if they don't use clickers) accidentally teaching dogs they get their reward only after they do the finish, so they end up with a dog who automatically performs a behavioral chain- recall, front, sit, finish, sit- without actually being cued to perform each behavior, which can cause the judge to mark you WAY down.


                  • #10
                    If she's a Beagle cross, then I wish you luck with teaching her to fetch, but I doubt she'll ever get it. We used to raise hunting Beagles, and they are simply not wired to retrieve. My Beagles loved to chase after tennis balls, but as soon as the ball stopped rolling, they would run back to me so I'd throw another. It's in their blood, though. Beagles who catch or pick up the rabbit do not last long in the hunt field! Their job is simply to track the rabbit until the hunter can get a good shot.

                    My sister's Golden Retriever, on the other hand, will play fetch until he is so exhausted we have to hide the toy and give him some recovery time.