Teaching Fetch
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Thread: Teaching Fetch

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008

    DefaultTeaching Fetch

    I was wondering if there are any good suggestions out there for teaching fetch to my 13 week old lab. He will go get his toy that I throw but when I call him he will just take off with it to chew on it or when he does bring it back to me I have to pry his mouth open to get it. I was wondering if offering a treat when he brings it back to me will work . I also clicker train. Should use the clicker and treats when he wants to bring it back or is there other helpful tips?

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  3. #2
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Lawrence (ex-Topeka), KS

    DefaultRe: Teaching Fetch

    Below is a copy of a post I've often made.
    ================================================== ==============
    Teaching to retrieve --

    For a puppy, if you have a blind hallway, you can start by rolling a ball or toy down the hall toward the blind end. The pup will run after it and has no choice but to come back to you. At that time, praise, and exchange a treat or a bit of kibble for the ball/toy along with more praise.

    Repeat 2-3 times. Always quit while it's still fun and interesting to your pup/dog.

    I didn't have a blind hallway and we used a 25 foot/8 m. kite string tied to a rubber toy dumbbell.

    We went out in the front yard and I'd throw it in first one direction, holding on to the bitter end (i.e., the non-toy end) of the line. Puff went after it and when she picked up the toy, I reeled back both Puff and the toy she was holding, praised her, and gave a treat in exchange for the toy. You might also say, "__(name)__, Give!" at the time you're offering the treat and getting the toy delivered to your hand. Then you'll be teaching another useful command: ("Give!").

    I threw it in a different direction next time. Repeated as above

    You do need to vary the directions you throw it and the locations you use because young dogs can easily (too easily) become site-specific in their learning.

    E.g., a woman 5-6 years ago on JL complained that her Lab would retrieve when she sat in a particular chair in her living room and threw a toy from there but would not retrieve any place else. When you vary the locations and directions it helps them easily learn to generalize.


    If your pup's enthusiasm starts lagging after 5 trials, drop to 3 or 4 the next time you try it. If it lags after 3 trials, drop to one for awhile until the interest and enthusiasm builds up.

    If you train just before normal feeding time, your pup's motivation for food will be higher and have greater reward effect.

    As your pup learns to retrieve and enjoys it, you can increase the # of trials.

    Many people assume that a Lab should retrieve automatically, without training.

    While SOME Labs may, probably the majority need some training to retrieve.

    Chasing after a moving object is native and instinctual for almost all dogs but bringing it back to someone else and giving it up is not and that part often needs training.

    However, for many Labs, once they learn to retrieve, it's often the thing they enjoy most in life and have an endurance for fetching greater than the arm endurance of the person throwing the object.

    That's not bad because most Labs need a lot of daily vigorous exercise to be docile and civil. "Fetch" is a wonderful way of meeting most of those needs.

    But a few Labs become too obsessed with retrieving and need to have limits imposed.

    And a few get EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse) and become weak and shaky; this seems to be a genetic fault of a few Labs and is under investigation at a consortium of US & Canadian Vet colleges. The Labrador Retriever Club's website has a section on this.

    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":

  4. #3
    sarah's Avatar
    sarah is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Sydney AUSTRALIA

    DefaultRe: Teaching Fetch

    As Bob said, we started with the hallway when Milly was little and then my partner decided to remove the doors at the end of our hallway :ugly: so we started with tethering the toy to clothesline and reeling Milly back in (as Bob described)

    At age 5 months, Milly now offers US a toy for the retrieve game and it's a nightly thing just before her bedtime.
    Sarah & Milly - Sydney Australia


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