How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch (and bring it back!)

Every dog knows how to fetch, right? You just throw the ball or the Frisbee and he runs to get it. Then he brings it to you. We all know that’s how it works.

Surprisingly, some dog owners find this is not always the case. Some dogs are more than happy to run after the tossed item, but they refuse to bring it back. Or when the do bring it back they refuse to let go.

What do you do if you find your new dog is one of those rebels? The ones who refuse to fetch AND return.

But first, why should you bother?

The Benefits of Teaching Your Dog to Fetch

• It’s good exercise. You may not get to walk for miles with your dog, but by playing fetch your dog will get in a lot of running in a short amount of time.

• When your dog returns with the item and let’s go you can shower him with praise. This is not only a fun game but teaches him that not all rewards are edible treats. This can help with other types of training.

• Strengthens your bond of trust with your dog.

A few tips for training…

Understand that not all dogs are the same

Just because you had another dog that learned to fetch and retrieve quickly doesn’t mean your current dog will. It takes some dogs longer than others to learn. You need to show some patience while your dog is learning and give him as much time as needed.

How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch

Break it Down into Simple Steps

Use a toy that is easy for him to hold in his mouth, not awkward or heavy. A toy he is already used to playing with is best.

Swing the toy around and reward him when he shows any interest in the toy.

Next, reward him for mouthing the toy.

Now give him the first verbal command…

1. Take it!

Slowly increase the amount of time you expect him to hold the object.

2. Give!

Next, you want him to let go of the toy when you ask. Reward him each time he drops the toy on this command.

Make sure he has a solid grasp of these two commands before moving on.

Your commands should be spoken firmly. But do not yell at your dog or get angry. This will merely stress your pet and make the training less effective.

Now you want to start slowly moving away from the dog. Start with just a few short steps and then increase the distance. Encourage him to walk to you with the toy and then release it into your hand when you say, “Give!” Only give him a reward when he drops the item into your hand.

Next when you throw the item you’ll say…

3. Fetch!

He’ll now know to take and item and then return and give it to you.

Continue to use this familiar toy until he has a firm grasp on the concept.

Other Places and Toys

Now try using different toys. Then move to different places. It may be harder to keep his attention in a busy park then it was at home.

The next command is…

4. Stay!

Throw the item and then require your dog to stay still until you tell him to Fetch. This teaches impulse control.

When you finally tell him, “Fetch!” he’ll be so excited!

This is not only great training for your dog but a fun game for both of you. He’ll love you even more for taking time to play with him.

Written By

Melissa Maxwell

Melissa is a dog lover who enjoys sharing smart dog tips, inspirational stories and the joy that dogs bring. Follow us on social media for even more dog fun!


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