Playing fetch is a great way to have fun with your dog and exercise him/her at the same time.
Some dogs play fetch naturally, but few dogs intrinsically understand the concept of retrieving.
Some dogs will chase after the toy but then won’t bring it back, while others simply look at you with a confused expression, wondering why you repeatedly throw the toy away!
Choosing the Right Toy:
Dogs can be very particular about the toys they’ll play fetch with. Some prefer a tennis ball, others are happiest with a plain old stick. Experiment with different toys and see which ones excite your dog the most. Here are a few popular choices to try:
- Tennis ball
- Plastic or rubber stick
- Regular stick
- Squeaky toy
If your dog doesn’t like to put toys in his/her mouth, try soaking a plush toy or a tennis ball in chicken stock or stuffing an old sock with treats. This will entice your dog to taste the toy.
The Reluctant Retriever:
For dogs who really don’t grasp the concept of chasing after toys at all, you need to start with the basics. If your dog likes to play tug-of-war, start by playing a short game of tug with a soft toy that your puppy likes to tug on. Then take the toy from his/her mouth, and toss it just a few inches away. If your dog runs to the toy, immediately snatch it up and start another fun game of tug. If he/she just stands there and looks at the toy you’ve thrown, reach out and wiggle it around on the floor again until he/she finds it irresistible.
As soon as your dog gets it, toss it another few inches away. Continue doing this until your dog chases after the toy. When he/she does, you can reward your dog with another quick tug game.
Soon they’ll reliably chase the toy when you toss it and you can start throwing it greater distances. When he/she gets the idea that bringing the toy back to you leads to a tugging battle, your dog will be eager to run and fetch the toy.
Once you start throwing it a few feet, it’s helpful to turn and run away as your dog comes towards you with the toy. This will encourage him/her to run faster and chase you. When he/she catches up to you, play tug with the toy.
Eventually, you won’t have to play tug every single time your dog fetches the toy, but be sure to do so intermittently to keep him/her eager to play.
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