Fetch can be a very rewarding game to play with your dog. It engages both mind and body and can be used as reinforcement for other behavior. You sit for me and I’ll send this tennis ball flying through the air so you can chase after it.
Fetch by the Rules
Most of the time, when I play fetch I have the following two ground rules:
- Please plant your paws on the ground. I like my legs without scratches thank you.
- Please drop the ball so I can pick it up or put it in my hand and release it.
If one of the ground rules are broken, play ends (not forever, but for at least a little while).
Enter 2 Ball Fetch
2 Ball Fetch is a great way to help teach the rules of the game.
- A Dog
- 2 Balls (sometimes the ones with squeaker help encourage dropping)
- Clicker (optional – you can just say “yes” the minute the ball is dropped)
- A couple of treats
- Ask your dog to sit, lay down, or do some other behavior he knows well.
- Toss the ball the minute he does the behavior.
- As he returns, as long as feet stay on the ground, show the second ball (if it has a squeaker you can do that too).
- As soon as his mouth opens to drop the ball, click, and throw the other ball.
- Pick up the dropped ball as he is running off.
- After several repetitions, he will start dropping the ball as he approaches.
Tip #1: Remember, if his feet come up, simply walk away and end play. You don’t have to say anything and no need to be upset. Ending play is enough of a consequence that after a few times he won’t be doing that again.
Tip #2: Some dogs will run around a few minutes with the ball, ignore the behavior and wait for the drop, click and reinforce. It won’t take long before they get bored with playing all by themselves.