How to Teach a Puppy to Fetch

By Mercè Garcia. August 16, 2020
How to Teach a Puppy to Fetch

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Dogs are very playful animals. It's one of the many things we love about them! This is especially true when it comes to puppies. Playing with our puppies will help us create a greater bond with them and help them be a happy and healthy pup.

In this AnimalWised article, we're going to give you the an easy step-by-step guide to how to teach your puppy to play fetch. Continue reading to learn more!

You may also be interested in: How to Teach your Dog to Drop Objects

Choosing the right toy

The first step is choosing the right toy to play fetch with. This toy must spark your puppy's interest and curiosity so that they feel motivated enough to chase it when playing fetch. You can find the right toy by taking them to your local pet shop or by trying different toys out and seeing which is their favourite.

Here are some great ideas for toys to play fetch with:

  • Ball toy for dogs
  • Squeaky toy
  • Frisbee
  • Bone shaped chew toy
  • Stick toy
  • Rattle toy ball

Try these out and see which one your puppy enjoys playing with the most. It will be a great candidate for when you begin playing fetch with your puppy as they are already interested in the toy. It's also important that they are familiar with the toy before beginning to play fetch with it.

Make sure that these toys are specifically made for dogs as certain toys, such as tennis balls, can be detrimental to your dog's health. By purchasing toys made for dogs, you make sure that all the toy is made up of non-toxic materials for dogs. This is very important as puppies will chew their new toys and the toys will naturally break from the use.

How to Teach a Puppy to Fetch - Choosing the right toy

Starting to play with your puppy

Before starting to play with your puppy, there are other games you can play so that they get used to playing with you and with certain toys. Here are some things you can do to encourage your dog to be playful:

Play by chasing

A nice way to start playing with your puppy is by chasing them and allowing them to chase you. This is a natural game for canines. You can see that they want to play like this when then get down on two paws, with their back legs lifted. They'll stare at you for a second and then go off running or jump towards you.

This is when you can chase them and allow them to chase you. Try to do this in your own backyard or a closed park as your dog will need to be unleashed. You can also observe how dogs enjoy chasing each other too. This is a great part of their socializing process as they learn to play with other dogs.


This is also a very instinctive game for dogs. For this you will need a rope or another similar dog toy. You'll allow them to bite onto it as you gently tug. They may playfully growl and tug the toy. Then you can let go and allow them to run with the toy or give it back to continue playing tug-of-war with you.

This is also a great game as a puppy begins to grow their adult teeth at around 14-30 weeks of age. They will need chew toys to cope with the pain of their new teeth growing in. Gently playing tug-of war can also help them cope with this while growing strong teeth.

Catching a toy or treat

Lastly, another trick is to encourage them to catch a toy or a treat in the air. This way they will begin to coordinate in order to catch the toy. This is a similar game to fetch and definitely a great first step. Next, you can throw the toy farther away.

When doing this, make sure your dog is interested in the toy and is observing it as you move it around. Once you notice their interest you can gently through it up into the air so they can calculate where to go to catch it. As we already know, puppies can be quite clumsy. This is why this is the perfect game for puppies to start with!

How to teach your puppy to fetch

Now that your dog has gotten used to playing with you and their new toys, it's time to start training them how to play fetch. To do so, follow these simple steps:

  1. Choose their favourite toy or a new toy they are interested in.
  2. Play with them by showing them the interesting toy but not letting them get it from your hand.
  3. Now, you can make the motion that you will throw it, so they get prepared to catch or chase it.
  4. Throw the toy a couple of metres away.
  5. Once they get the toy, call them back with a soft and gentle voice.
  6. Once they are back, put your hand out so they give you the toy while offering a treat on the other hand.
  7. They will now give you the ball or drop it in order to eat the treat you have provided.

Training your puppy through positive reinforcement will help them associate the tricks with positive things. It will also help them have a balanced temperament as an adult dog and help create a greater and healthy bond with you.

To learn more, watch this Youtube video about teaching you dog to play fetch. In some cases, dogs may not seem very interested in playing fetch. To learn how to encourage them to do so, keep reading the next section where we explain how to teach a puppy to play fetch when they don't seem very interested.

How to teach a puppy that doesn't seem interested in playing fetch

For older dogs that never learned to play catch or for uninterested puppies, learning to play fetch can be difficult. In these cases, we will need to go slower in the learning process and teach them to associate playing fetch with a positive and exciting thing, such as a treat.

The best training method for these cases is called the clicker method. In involves the use of a clicker. We simply make the click sound when our dogs do a positive behaviour and then immediately reward them with a small and healthy treat. This will get them to repeat the behaviour as they know we're encouraging them to do so. This helps the communication between the caregiver and the dog and can make training very easy as this is the most effective method.

Once we have a clicker, we'll need to help them associate the toy with a treat. You can begin to do this by placing the toy on the ground and when they sniff it or interact with it, you will make the clicker sound and then give them a small treat. This will then progress by you giving it to them to hold with their mouth. Once they do, make the clicker sound and reward them. Then, you can slowly progress with these easy steps:

  1. Finding the toy: you can also hide the toy and when they find it you reward them.
  2. Catching the toy: next, you can throw the toy in the air for them to catch. When they do, you use the clicker and reward them.
  3. Throwing the toy: now it's time to throw the toy around a metre away for them to retrieve. Once they go get it, you immediately use the clicker and go give them a treat.
  4. Bringing it back: now it's time to teach them to bring it back to you. To do this, repeat the last step but then call them back enthusiastically and softly. Once they come to you with the toy in their mouth, use the clicker and reward them.
  5. Increase the distance: now you can increase the distance and continue training them to play fetch. They will begin to enjoy this as they spend time with their caregivers, get some exercise and even a treat!

By following these steps, your puppy or adult dog will be on their way to happier play times with you. Learn more about training your puppy by reading our article about when to start training a puppy and the complete guide to training a dog.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Teach a Puppy to Fetch, we recommend you visit our Basic education category.

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