• Linda Healy

Teaching the puppy to retrieve

Teaching your dog to retrieve is extremely useful because it allows you to get toys back easily and to stay in control of games. Playing "fetch" games is an easy way to exercise your puppy, and retrieving can form the basis of many other games that you can play with him.

Teaching a puppy to retrieve is easy if you start early enough, before he has learned to avoid people once he has the toy. Begin by teasing the puppy with the toy and rolling it along the ground. As your puppy starts to run after it, give the command "fetch" so he begins to associate this word with running out to pick things up. Once he has picked up the toy, use your voice to praise him and encourage him to come back to you. If you sound exciting enough, he will probably trot back to you carrying the toy in his mouth and wagging his tail. Keep your hands still so that he does not think you are waiting to take the toy from him, or he may try to avoid you and lie down with the toy elsewhere.

When he reaches you, do not touch the toy, but make a big fuss of him, touching him anywhere except around the head region. If you go straight for the toy, he will learn to avoid you and will eventually begin to stop coming back.

When he has had the toy for a few minutes (be patient), he may drop it of his own accord or may settle down to chew it. Take hold of the toy and wait until he lets go. As he does so, give the command 'drop it" and remove the toy. Praise him and throw the toy for him to chase again. As your puppy grows older and gets into the habit of coming back to you, you can begin to take the toy away sooner.

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