How can I teach my puppy to fetch?

You can start working on fetching with your new puppy almost immediately after you pick him up from the breeder. The video shows me working with a 7-week old puppy.

What you will need:

• an item that can easily be carried by the puppy

• a closed off hallway

• a well-rested puppy

Let’s discuss each of these in more detail.

An item that can easily be carried by the puppy

This should be an object that is not too heavy or too hard on their teeth. A small stuffed dog toy, a paint roller, or a tiny bumper (like the one I use in the video) will work fine.

A closed off hallway

You need an area where you can toss the item and when the puppy goes to get it, he has nowhere else to go except back to you. In the video I use a short well-lit hallway with all the doors closed to avoid distraction and escape.

A well-rested puppy

Most importantly, you need a well-rested and enthusiastic puppy. If the puppy has been running around and playing prior to working on retrieves, your chance of success diminishes greatly. I like to do this training just after they have woken up and “emptied”, aka been outside to go potty (see article on teaching empty on command).

Here a few common mistakes I see when working on fetching with young dogs.

Hurrying to take the item from the puppy once he or she has brought it back to you. Instead, praise and pet the puppy letting them know how proud you are of them. Taking the item from them immediately may teach them that they lose the prize whenever they come to you.

Have the puppy do too many retrieves in a row. This causes the puppy to become disinterested and tired of the process. Instead, only throw a few, making them more interested and “hungry” for the next session. A few retrieves each day is plenty to make your dog a retrieving fiend.

Until next time, happy retrieving.

Steve Smith