Ask the Trainer: Friendly game of fetch will never go amiss

By Nadine Steele

Fetch is a family favourite that is enjoyed by people of all ages.

It's also a great form of backyard exercise.

Your dog may need to be taught how to play, as not all breeds have the natural instinct to retrieve, or possess an understanding of the concept of the game, especially the "bring it back to me" part.

How many times have you received that well-known look of "you threw it, you get it" from your dog?

To have success in a complete game of fetch, you must break down the learning steps for your dog.

Step 1: Place your object of choice such as a ball, rope toy or stick on the ground.

Reward your dog for investigating the toy with a treat when they sniff at it.

Step 2: Encourage your dog to explore the toy with their mouth by rewarding only when they pick it up after the initial sniff test and introduce the command "fetch".

Step 3: Once your dog is holding the toy in its mouth for a longer period, begin introducing the recall so it begins to move toward you with the toy.

You may find that to start, they do not bring the toy all the way to you.

Remain patient and build on the distance gradually.

Start calling your dog to you from only a few steps away so your dog does not have far to carry the toy in its mouth.

Distance can be built over a few sessions until you reach the point of your dog bringing back the toy from as far as you are able to throw it or your section allows.

Step 4: Perhaps the most important.

You must swap your dog the toy for a tasty treat to have them willingly hand it over so the game can continue.

Step 5: Ask your dog to sit and wait while you throw the toy again and give it the "fetch" command so it knows it can once again retrieve the toy.

Remember we must always swap what we want our dogs to give us with an item they think is of higher value to have them give it up freely.

A game of fetch is also an opportunity to refresh foundation commands such as sit, wait and of course come.

Paw point of the week

If your dog insists on moving away from you when the have the toy, attach a long line training leash and use this to gently direct your dog back toward you. You can also practice your own fishing skills as you gently reel them in.

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- Rotorua Daily Post

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