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Old 06-16-2014, 08:52 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Training the Fetch

How do you train a puppy to fetch? I'm having a hard time with this. I used his favorite toy, he goes to it, picks it up, then drops it and comes back to me empty mouthed. If using a clicker, would I click every time he touch the toy (after being tossed) or when he brings it back?

I'm trying to find ways to get him interested in this so that that when is is older, I have a good way to exercise him by using a chuck it in a field.

He loves his flirt pole, so I use that now, but not sure if I will be able to use it as he gets older. I have the chuckit ball on a rope, but he has no interest in that at all. It might be too big (medium) for him, so I ordered the smaller size.

This puppy has crazy food drive, I should be able to teach him to fetch....but have failed so far.

His training is coming along well....so any help you can provide will go a long way. I'm sure this is my shortcoming and not his...he has proven that he is trainable.

btw, he is 4.5 months old.
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Old 06-16-2014, 09:04 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You can consult a trainer for ideas. For my guy praise and a training treat worked wonders. If he didnt bring ball to me I would tell him go get the ball in a happy tone. He caught on fairly quickly. Good luck to ya.
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Old 06-16-2014, 09:25 AM   #3 (permalink)
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If using a clicker, you would start by clicking any and all interest in the toy you are using to play the game with. If he's already holding the toy in his mouth, you click for holding the toy. Once he is holding the toy in his mouth firmly for several seconds, you start clicking for any and all motion towards you with the toy. This can literally be a glance in your direction, just click any interest in you while the toy is still in his mouth. Once he's got that down, start clicking for taking a step or two towards you with toy in mouth. Next you stop clicking for that amount and wait to click for 2-3 steps, then 4-5, and so on and so forth. Basically, you are breaking every part of the behavior down into its simplest actions, and rewarding each of those steps until he is confident chaining all of those behaviors into one fluid action.

It should be noted that you should start by simply placing the ball in front of you, maybe a foot or two away. Don't start by lobbing the ball across a field. Keep him close so you can properly interpret his actions, IE the moment he turns towards you, the moment he makes any sort of step towards you, etc.
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Old 06-16-2014, 09:27 AM   #4 (permalink)
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First you need to build drive in the toy, the same way you did with the flirt pole.

Then I would try a two ball game, like this...

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Old 06-16-2014, 09:30 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I wouldn't try to train it at this age. You're risking making fetch a job and not fun if you don't do it correctly and then your dog will never find it fun. He's still young. Many puppies don't understand the game yet. Most people will tell your their puppies didn't fetch until after 6 months or later. My dog would chase a ball, but he wouldn't bring it back, he didn't connect the fact that I'll throw it again, and again, and again.

I tried a lot of different things...cutting the ball and putting a treat in it, showing that a treat comes from returning to me, two ball, ect. The one thing that worked, was letting him mature and realize what the game is. When he finally started bringing the ball back, I'd always make sure to throw it again, and soon enough he knew what fetch was. The ball drive is developed at different stages, if you know the lines of your dog, and think that ball drive is something he'll have, I wouldn't worry about it and just let it develop naturally.
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Old 06-16-2014, 09:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I did trading. So I offered a treat and then offered him a second, rewarding him when he took the second treat. For the fetch I did the same with a toy, offering the toy and trading it with another toy or treat. After a few repetitions I dropped the toy and when he picked it up I would call his name to get his attention and show him the treat/toy

Eventually I'd progress to throwing it farther and farther away and he's always bring it back to receive the toy/treat I was offering. If I threw it and he didn't bring it back then the game ended right away, so he learned that the game only continues on my terms. Now he simply brings it back because he wants it thrown again, the chasing and making me happy is enough reward for him


That's what worked for me, he's the easiest dog I've ever trained for fetch so harness those drives and enjoy
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Old 06-16-2014, 09:51 AM   #7 (permalink)
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there are plenty of good instructional videos on the retrieve...

I think Michael Ellis has one, Balabanov has one...the first one I saw, and that I used on a DDR dog who did not care for a dead prey object was called Pawsitively Fetching....now it has been refined and is called Totally Fetching...you can get it via Amazon for $50.....

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Old 06-16-2014, 03:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Personally I wouldn't stress out about it right now; none of my dogs caught on to fetch until they were around 6 months old. I agree that trying to train fetch too much at this age can make it a job instead of fun later on. One thing my dogs loved around that age was chasing a soccer ball with me. Don't necessarily make it about fetching the soccer ball - just run around and kick it with your puppy. It's a good way to tire him out and will help build ball drive.
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Old 06-16-2014, 03:19 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks for all your suggestions. I'm not too worried, but I really don't want to take up running to be able to exercise him enough :-), that is why I want him to play fetch.

Definitely don't want to make it a job, so I will let him be and see where it goes.

Btw, love the ME videos, I have 3 right now, would like to get his heeling video too.
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Old 06-16-2014, 03:40 PM   #10 (permalink)
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So you aren't worried about a formal retrieve, you'd just like him to bring it back, hopefully running?
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