Teaching A Puppy to Retrieve
Retrieving is one of the best games to play with a puppy and it is incredibly easy to teach. It is also a very important educational game as it teaches the puppy the concept of wanting to share something exciting with you.
First find something that your puppy is interested in, perhaps a sock or a glove or alternatively a toy that you have bought for him. When he is wide awake and looking for mischief get the toy or article and tease him with it. Throw it a short distance and allow him to run and pick it up. DO NOT CHASE AFTER HIM – that will make him think you are competing for the toy and force him into taking avoiding action. Wait for a minute and you will see that he takes it to a particular spot in the room and lies down to chew it. SLOWLY get up and move toward him without looking him in the eye, sit and extend your arm to stroke him and gently reassure him with your voice. Do not attempt to take the toy from him at this stage. When he finally releases the toy quickly tease him with it and return to the spot that you originally threw it from. Throw it again and allow him to pick it up and take it to his ‘safe’ spot. Once again go over quietly and sit with him, stroke him as before and then repeat the whole process once again for as long as he retains an interest in playing the game. Play in this manner for a couple of sessions and then change the game slightly. Now you are going to throw the toy and when you pup runs out to pick it up go and sit in the spot that he usually takes it to. Guess what? He will probably bring it right to you and lie alongside or behind you to be stroked. Repeat this several times and then move your position a distance of two metres or so in any direction. It is quite possible that your puppy will still take the toy to the old location and lie down with it so just ignore him for a few seconds then use your voice to encourage him to come closer to you. Scratching your nails on the carpet will usually do the trick. When he comes to you remember to praise well with your voice and hands before you even think about taking the toy away to throw it for him again. A couple more sessions and your puppy should bring the toy to you wherever you are sitting and all that remains is to use several toys now so that he releases the one that he has in order to chase and retrieve the one that you have. Remember that if he picks up anything that he should not have it is then easier (and safer) to call him to you with the words ‘good boy, fetch’ rather than the words ‘bad boy, leave’. When he has learned to retrieve correctly for you then you can introduce him to all of your friends who visit the house by simply throwing the toy for your puppy to retrieve. Do this a couple of times and then give the toy to them to throw for the pup while you exit the room for a short while. Of course if you were to stay in the room then the puppy would ignore your friends and want to play with you but for the few minutes that you are absent they become welcome playmates. This is far better than allowing your puppy either to use your friends as though they were toys or worse, growing up in fear of people who come to visit.