How to Teach a Dog to Fetch
Dog Training

How to Teach a Dog to Fetch

Most dogs love to play “fetch” and enjoy chasing and retrieving the fetch toy for their owner. However, some do not understand or are not inclined to “fetch” toys. So teaching them to fetch toys may require consistency and patience, but it helps you bond with your dog and keep them healthy.

Let's dive deep into this extensive guide on how to teach a dog to “fetch.” It covers everything you need to know about playing fetch, from choosing the appropriate toy to what to do if the dog is not interested, and more tips to help you teach your canine companion to fetch.

Choosing the Right Toy

When you look for a toy to teach your dog to “fetch,” regard their age, size, and ability. For example, if the dog is older or too young, be sure to get a toy that is not difficult to grasp with their teeth.

Some notable fetch toys for your dog to play with include squeaker footballs or tennis balls, rope toys, plush dog toys, and retriever plastic or rubber bumper.

Introduce the Fetch Toy

After purchasing the fetch toy, now you can introduce it to your dog. Place the toy near you; when they come close to it, click or say “Yes,” praise, and offer a treat. The next step would be when you see that your dog has started touching the toy with their nose, praise abundantly and give treats. Keep doing it until your dog likes interacting with the toy. 

What If My Dog Isn’t Interested?

If you feel like your canine friend is not interested in playing fetch, you can try introducing the toy with a tug-of-war game or putting treats inside the fetch toy to make it tempting.

Now, when your dog begins interacting with the toy, you can start the game of fetch the pet would enjoy. Throw the toy a few feet away, and when they catch on, slowly increase the distance until they comprehend the fun of running after something and show more excitement so they want to please you more.

Move the Fetch Toy Around

When you know your dog is interested in “fetching” a toy or interacting with it, move the toy around so your dog moves with the toy to get it. 

Hold the toy in different positions and encourage your dog to touch it. Each time they interact with the toy, say "Yes!" excitedly, heavily praise them, and offer treats. 

Playing Bait-and-Switch

If your dog likes to run after the toy but does not bring it back, you can try playing bait and switch, where the dog gets trained to bring the toy back. What you can do is keep two toys with you. Throw the first one. When they reach the toy, tease them with the other toy.

Chances are the dog may get the first toy, but they may drop it and want to get the second one. You still throw the second toy in another direction, and when they run off to get the toy, pick up the first one and toss it. Keep throwing one toy to retrieve and teasing with another one. 

Start Throwing the Fetch Toy Short Distances

When your dog understands that fetching the toy gets them treats, start throwing the toy a few feet away from you. When they pick the toy, praise, and offer treats. Keep doing this until your dog understands what they need to do. Toss the toy again and provoke your dog to bring it back to you. When they obey, praise and reward them. 

Throw the Fetch Toy Further

Now, when your dog has realized that getting the toy and bringing it back means rewards, start increasing the distance and throw the fetch toy farther.  

When they successfully fetch the toy, reward them with praise and treats, and then throw the toy a little farther. Keep practicing this multiple times until your dog understands how to play fetch.

Add a Verbal Cue

At this point, you can add a verbal cue like “fetch.” Say the cue before tossing the fetch toy. When they successfully fetch for you, offer them plenty of praise and treats. If your dog has learned to fetch, you may not even have to use the verbal cue. 

More Tips for Playing Fetch

Here are more tips to get you through training sessions, teaching your dog to play fetch.

  • Try introducing new challenges to the game of fetch dog typically finds interesting because even playing fetch can bore your dog after a while. You can say the cue “wait” after throwing the fetch toy to let them comprehend when it is time to get the toy.

  • Remember to have a bagful of treats and rewards to reinforce the behavior. Dogs typically work hard for a valuable treat. Keep offering them rewards for running after the toy and then bringing it back to you. 

  • You may even have to run after the toy when you throw it for your dog to get them to run alongside you. It often happens when your dog is not a natural runner. Also, keep encouraging them with praises and treats.


The perfect entertainment for your pet is a good game of fetch puppies usually love to play. Understanding how to teach a dog to play fetch allows you to spend quality time with them, engage in a fun activity, and nurture your relationship with them. It also helps in their mental and physical stimulation.

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