Teaching Your Dog to Fetch
Some dogs will naturally fetch objects, and other dogs seem to have no interest whatsoever in fetching. Training your dog to fetch may either be a quick lesson, or it may take a lot of time and patience; it just depends on the dog. Follow these steps below, always use positive reinforcement, and eventually you and your dog can have fun playing fetching games.
Teaching your dog to fetch is much easier if your dog already knows the "come" command. Take the time to teach your dog this essential lesson first, and then progress to the ‘fetch’ lessons.
Find something that your dog is interested in picking up. This could be a favorite toy like a ball or stuffed animal, or it could be a favorite rawhide chewy; whatever the object is, it shouldn’t be able to be quickly destroyed or eaten.
Throw the dog’s fetching object just a few feet away from you. As you throw the fetching object say the word, or words you want to use for the fetch command such as ‘fetch’ or ‘get it.’
When your dog grabs the object immediately give the fetch command; if your dog comes to you with the object in his or her mouth take the object, give a treat, and repeat the lesson. Some dogs will drop the toy and then come to you; if this happens with your dog you will need to repeat Step 3 a few times a day, no more than 10 minutes at a time, until your dog finally comes to you with the object in his or her mouth. As soon as this happens praise your dog with a lot of enthusiasm and then give your dog a favorite treat.
Practice the ‘fetch’ lesson at least twice a day at 10 minute intervals on a regular basis. Gradually increase the distance that you throw the object; once the fetch command has been learned phase out the treats, and continue with verbal praise and petting rewards.
This video shows how to start building the repetative behavior required to train your dog the retrieve command.