How To Train Your Dog To Fetch Using Balls

In my previous post, I walked you through the process of training your dog to catch a frisbee. But, it is possible that your dog may not bring the frisbee back to you once he/she has caught it. That doesn’t mean that you won’t have fun playing frisbee with your dog. It is just that you may need to run to grab the frisbee from your dog. But, there is no need for you to do that if you can get your dog to bring the frisbee back to you.

And so, with that in mind, I am going to walk you through how to train your dog to fetch. For this training, we are going to be working with toy balls. So, if you are looking for toy balls, I recommend that you get the Chuckit! Ultra Ball. These are really good toy balls that are designed to account for the most aggressive chewers while still being soft which will be easier on your dog’s teeth.

(Photo courtesy of pdpics via Wikimedia)

1. Bait And Switch

The first step is for you to engage in what is referred to as bait and switch with your dog. So, grab two toy balls. Start out by throwing the first ball. Once your dog runs over to grab the first ball, call your dog by his/her name to get his/her attention. With your dog’s attention, throw the second ball in the opposite direction from where you threw the first one.

That will likely prompt your dog to drop the first ball in order to go after the second one. Now, as your dog is going after the second ball, run over to the first ball, call your dog by name, and then throw the first ball in the opposite direction – like you just did the first time. After repeating this a few more times, throw the first ball and wait for your dog to go grab it.

Once your dog has the first ball in his/her mouth, call him/her by name and say “drop it.” After giving your dog the command, show him/her the second ball. Wait for your dog to drop the first ball first and then throw the second ball in the opposite direction for him/her to go after it. Repeat this a few more times and then you can move on to the next step.

2. Use A Leash And Harness

This step will involve you using a dog leash and harness in order to teach your dog to bring the ball back to you. As for which leash you should get, I recommend that you order one that is at least twenty feet long. That will ensure that your dog has plenty of room to go after the ball and then bring it back. As for the harness, you will want a no pull harness with a front clip on it because it is designed to prevent neck injury to your dog when he/she needs to pull on the leash in order to chase the ball.

The BARKBAY No Pull Dog Harness Front Clip will definitely do it for your dog. Once you have attached your dog to a leash, throw the ball and let him/her chase after it. Watch to see if your dog will bring the ball back to you. If your dog doesn’t do that after picking up the ball, gently pull back on the leash and/or walk away in order to encourage him/her to bring it back to you.

If your dog draws closer to you with the ball in his/her mouth, reward him/her with a yummy treat like the Canine Carry Outs Dog Treats. It may take up to a few weeks of practice before your dog gets the hang of it.

3. The Bring It Command

(Photo courtesy of Mdk572 via Wikimedia)

Now, you will want to challenge your dog to bring the ball back to you without the leash and harness. That is where the bring it command comes in. So, throw the ball and let your dog go and get it. Wait to see if your dog will bring the ball all the way back to you. If your dog drops the ball before coming all the way to you, try repeating this a few more times.

If your dog continues to drop the ball after a few attempts, take note of the spot where he/she tends to drop the ball. Then throw the ball once again and wait for your dog to grab the ball. Once your dog has the ball in his/her mouth and is about to approach the spot where he/she usually drops the ball, wave your hand in a follow me gesture and say the words “bring it.”

Now, walk away from your dog. If your dog catches up to you with the ball in his/her mouth, reward him/her with a treat for doing so. Continue to practice this until the bring it command starts to sink in for your dog.

4. The Drop It Command

The drop it command will take center stage in this step of the training. Here, you may find that your dog will bring the ball all the way to you, but doesn’t drop it once he/she reaches you. So, once your dog has approached you with the ball in his/her mouth, show him/her the treat and say the words “drop it” at the same time. That will likely prompt your dog to drop the ball so that he/she can have that yummy treat.

Repeat this process at least a few more times, then try to do it without showing your dog the treat. So, to get your dog to drop the ball without showing the treat, wait for him/her to return to you with the ball and then show him/her your open hand. At the same time that you show your dog your open hand, give him/her the drop it command. If your dog obeys your drop it command, reward him/her with a treat.

All in all, this is how to train your dog to fetch. At the end of the day, your dog will ideally bring back and drop the ball naturally without you even having to do anything to get him/her to do so. What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy playing fetch with your dog? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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