Several Ways to Teach "Fetch"

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Several Ways to Teach "Fetch"

Post by Marshall Derm » Wed, 17 Feb 1999 04:00:00

I noticed that there is a question about teaching a dog to fetch. Here is
are some ways.


Dear Daisy,

We adopted a stray who would chase after balls but not return them. Here is
what I did.

I had the dog sit in front of me. I opened her mouth and put the ball
inside. Then I waited a few seconds, said "release," gently opened her mouth
to remove the ball and then gave her a treat. I repeated this many times.

Over the many trials, I made certain to provide her favorite treats when
she released the ball. Eventually, she reliably released the ball when
I said "release."

Then I would say "fetch" and open her mouth and insert the ball, followed by
her holding the ball, and then my asking her to release the ball which was
followed, as usual, with her favorite treat. I repeated this many times
until she would reliably take the ball from my hand when I said "fetch," hold
it, release it when requested, and enjoy the treat.

Then I would put the ball, on the ground, just in front of her and say
"fetch" and repeat the entire sequence (behavior analysts call this a chain)
beginning with the command "fetch."  When she would reliably do this, then
I moved the ball further from her, said "fetch," etc. Eventually, I could
throw the ball a short distance and she would fetch and return it. As
always, I consequted the release of the ball into my hand with a treat.

Eventually, I threw the ball and she reliably returned it. Later, I
faded out the treat and the opportunity of fetching the ball apparently
became the reward that maintained the behavior.

I hope this helps.


       Marshall Lev Dermer/ Department of Psychology/ University of

        "Life is just too serious to be taken entirely seriousyl!"

 Subject: Re: Fetch help
 Date: Fri, 12 Jun 1998 23:44:18 GMT
 Lines: 31

 Xref: rec.pets.dogs.behavior:116221

It isn't clear to me what you want from this dog - so it probably isnt'
clear to her, either.  If you are looking for a dog to play ball with,
I would use a very different method than the traditional Take/Hold/Give
method used to teach a formal retrieve, because that is not intended for
fun and games and most dogs want to spit out an unwelcome item in their

I'd work on using her prey drive to build play drive, with an old technique
called the "2-hose" game.  Cut 2 lengths of automobile heater hose 18"
long.  Holding one by the end, shake it and make it come "alive" until she
goes for it.  Play tug with it for awhile.  Slowly, start to teach her a
game in a distraction-free area, where you entice her with the hose, then
toss it to your right.  When she pounces on it and looks back at you, shake
the other hose and toss it to your left.  She drops the 1st hose & goes for
the 2nd, while you run and pick up the 1st hose.  When she gets the 2nd
hose and looks back at you, you entice her with the 1st one, which you
now have, and throw it to your right.  Pretty soon, she's racing back and
forth, with you in the center, e***d about the alternating hoses.

Lynn K.

 Article: 116232 of rec.pets.dogs.behavior

 Newsgroups: rec.pets.dogs.behavior
 Subject: Re: Fetch help
 Date: 13 Jun 1998 01:40:33 GMT

So have you tried a piece of salami tied in a sock or glove? :-) or a paper
towel tube with some towels still on it as fetch toys?
I saw John Rogerson get a Leonberger (who had *never* been interested in
playing fetch or mouthing toys) to fetch.
What he had the owner do - is with the dog near her throw a BUNCH of odd
objects including stuff like paper towel rolls dumbbells stuffed toys a
sock a glove etc all at once. The owner then stayed in an imaginary circle
area while she encouraged the dog to investigate with tremendous praise as
he approached any object and even nosed it.
In three or so tries of the owner gathering things and throwing them he had
picked one up and brought it back into her  circle space for oodles of
praise and a reward of a favorite treat. He certainly had figured out that
'mom' was *very* pleased with him and he was happy about that!
Once the dog has indicated what kind of object it is willing to pick up in
its mouth you can then move to exchanging that object (after plenty of
reinforcement of the command's execution) to other objects. If its the sock
say - put a ball in it and reward for the return then move to the ball
alone. Then you can work on obedience precision.
Make it a fun game and it should work.
A hint - if you have been using the word fetch with the force commands -
try another command and pretend you are teaching something different to
make sure no bad associations have been inadvertently made.


Several Ways to Teach "Fetch"

Post by Paulette B.Nol » Wed, 17 Feb 1999 04:00:00

I don't play fetch when I have all the dogs with me, as it is so hard to
keep them all still and not to go after the object.

When we do play fetch, I'll take two at a time,and throw, and make them
stay, and then tell one or the other to go.

It is a hard thing to do, keeping one dog behind,off lead, but it can
save my dogs life when they are hunting.

The dog then delivers to hand,and of course wants to go again,but can't.
There is a lot of cryng, but neither will move until the command is
given,to the other dog.

They will not break!!
I am quite proud of that.

I never throw anything again, if they have lost the object, but make the
dog that didn't find it, which hardly ever happens, keep on searching,
until she/he got it.

You don't want to lose a duck,you know?

When hubby is with me, ALL the dogs come and they listen to him much
better than me,and all four are on alert,just waiting for the word.

Oh, I love it when they are in the blind, and just KNOW what is
expected, and then some...


A dogs life is too short...
   Their only fault really...


Several Ways to Teach "Fetch"

Post by Peter B. Steig » Wed, 17 Feb 1999 04:00:00

On Tue, 16 Feb 1999 14:00:53 -0500 (EST), Paulette B.Nolan sez:

>The dog then delivers to hand,and of course wants to go again,but can't.

*HOW* did you do that?  Our brilliant border collie mix brings her
favorite ball back without a moment's hesitation... and she stops
a few feet away and tries to throw it back to me.  Well, it makes
sense - she sees ME throw it, so she wants to do what she sees me
doing.  But her aim is lousy (well, it's great for a dog throwing
with her mouth...) and I just can't get her to just pick the dang
thing up and put it in my hand.  The best she'll do is kick it
closer to me when her throw falls short, or (when she gets tired)
put her paws on it and push it towards me.

I've tried walking up to take it from her mouth, but she's so
*** she drops it as soon as I come towards her - she
doesn't want to compete with me for the ball.

{sigh} sometimes I wonder if we got a dog that's TOO smart.

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