Teaching the Dog to Fetch
By Michael Russell
Many people mistakenly believe that any dog will chase after sticks and toys and are disappointed if they end up with a dog that simply does not retrieve. Unfortunately, this is often the case. It may be caused by the dog’s upbringing as a puppy. Or it may be that no one has ever actually played with the dog and so he doesn’t know how to play. In some cases, the dog will retrieve but will bounce excitedly away when you try to get the article away from him. If you give chase you are really asking for trouble because then your dog will believe that the retrieval also means a game of “catch me if you can”. In other cases the dog retrieves absolutely beautifully and comes right up to you but will not drop the article and stubbornly hangs on, wanting instead to turn his game into a “tug of war”.
Often there are other kinds of problems associated with retrieving. Here is a method of training the retrieve, which is nearly foolproof, and in most circumstances, you can have a good retrieving dog within a week or two.
First, find a nice long empty hallway that is not too wide. Preferably, there will be carpet or a non skid surface on the floor. Borrow a friends house if you don’t have a hallway in your home, or go to the local motel and ask permission to use the back hall for an hour…
Take several pieces of an old garden hose that have been cut into pieces about 8 to 12 inches long. Also take some specially good treats for your dog. Sit down at one end of the hallway and take out a piece of the tubing and wave it enticingly in front of the dog. Toss it a few feet. If he goes after it at all, immediately reward him with a treat. Take another piece of tubing and do the same thing…again. Do not go and pick up the first piece of tubing, for now let them lie there until you have gone through your supply. (you may have to throw several before your dog will show any interest whatsoever, especially if he is a non retrieving breed or has a complete hangup about going after something and bringing it back. ) If and when your dog finally picks up the piece of rubber hose and carries it around, even if he does not bring it back to you, this is the step in the right direction. Be sure to laugh with him, gurgle happy words to him, let him know you are very very pleased that he picked up the piece of rubber! At that point, you do NOT tray to remove the hose from the dog’s mouth. Simply offer him a treat, if he lets go of the hose to take the treat then this is all you need. If he does NOT let go of the hose, (or if you don’t believe in treats or even if you forgot the treat!) just throw another piece of hose, usually he will drop the one he is holding and go after the next piece. Continue throwing the “toys” a longer distance and be sure to continue to use your happy voice and convince the dog that this is a great and fun thing to do!
In some extreme cases this simply doesn’t work with the dog. You might want to forget using the hoses at all and use several stuffies or soft toys instead. This may do the trick.
In most cases, you will have the dog running excitedly a long distance down the hall and picking up the hose and bringing it back to you without hesitation, within two weeks.
Your Independent guide to Dog Training
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