Fetch is king in the doggie sports. I love a good game of fetch and so do a lot of dogs. Here's why I think it's important for your dog to know and love this game:
Exercise. Fetch is obviously the fastest way to wear out your dog with the least amount of effort on your part. Need I say more?
Focus. Fetch teaches your dog to focus on you. Don't let your dog stare at the ball until it moves. Teach them to give you eye contact until the ball is thrown. Feel free to ask your dog to perform basic commands or tricks for the reward of you throwing the ball.
Relationship building. Any activity you and your dog participate in together builds a stronger bond.
So, how do you teach fetch?
#1 Build interest. Animate the toy! You don't have to start out with a ball. You can use a tug toy, or a frisbee (Tesla couldn't care less about playing with a ball). Wiggle it around, toss it up and down, and get your dog interested in the toy. You want your dog to put their mouth on the toy and even engage in some tug of war.
#2 Get a good chase. Once your dog is showing great interest in the toy, give it a toss and see what happens. Be careful not to throw it too far or not far enough. Not far enough and your dog will look to you to pick it back up, too far and they lose interest. You'll figure it out. Practice step 1 until you get a great chase.
#3 Bring it back! If your dog picks the toy up, encourage him to come back to you. You can call him in an excited voice, or run the other way! By running the other way you're enticing your dog to chase you with the toy in his mouth and, in a round about way, getting him to bring the toy back to you. Once he's close enough, grab the toy and play tug again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Don't be afraid to get silly. The sillier you are, the more fun you and your dog will have learning to play a new game. Be encouraging and don't get discouraged if your dog doesn't get it right away. Keep sessions short if you're not seeing success. And please, don't focus on being perfect right away. Have fun with your dog. Oh, and you'll need one of these!
See you next Wednesday,