How to train your Golden Retriever to play fetch


Training your Golden Retriever to play fetch can be a challenge at first and it’s something many people struggle to do. This post will teach you how to train your Golden Retriever to play fetch in an efficient manner.

The training method will be to break the process down into three stages designed to make training it go much more smoothly.

The first stage will involve teaching your Golden Retriever not to drop the toy.

The second stage will be to teach your Golden Retriever to give you the toy.

The last stage will be to teach it to run after the toy and to bring it back when you throw it.

If you would simply like to see how it is done without reading how then watch the video half way down this post.

The first stage will be to teach your Golden Retriever to hold the toy in its mouth.

To do this do as follows:

  1. Get your Golden Retriever in front of you with some treats that it likes and a toy.
  2. Reward your Golden Retriever for showing an interest in the toy. This can be anything from looking at the toy to mouthing the toy.
  3. Gradually, increase the level of interest that you require from your Golden Retriever to get the treat. The objective is to get it to mouth the toy when you show it the toy.
  4. Once you’re able to get your Golden Retriever to mouth the toy start to introduce the command “take it” and start to introduce new objects.
  5. Now start to require your Golden Retriever to actually hold the toy in its mouth. Start by rewarding the Golden Retriever for holding the toy for a tenth of a second and then gradually require more and more time. Be careful not to make a large jump in the amount of time that you require from it the idea is to reinforce the correct behavior.
  6. Now start moving the toy closer to the floor and eventually actually drop it on the floor. Continue to say “take it” and reward your Golden Retriever for holding the toy.

The second stage will involve teaching your Golden Retriever to give you the toy. This stage matters because it’s common that you’ll be able to get the Golden Retriever to get the toy but not to let go of it.

To do this do as follows:

  1. Get some treats and a toy that your Golden Retriever likes and get your Golden Retriever in front of you
  2. Get your Golden Retriever to take the toy out of your hands or from off the floor when you say “take it” and reward it when it lets go of the toy after you say “give”. You might need to encourage your Golden Retriever to give you the toy by holding out your hand or a treat. You’ll probably need to be patient on this step.
  3.  Repeat the above until you’re able to get your Golden Retriever to let go of the toy straight away when you say “give”. Make sure not to say give as soon as it picks the toy up otherwise it will forget to hold the toy.
  4. Repeat but now only reward your Golden Retriever for giving you the toy in your hand.

Now that you can get your Golden Retriever to give you the toy you can start to add distance.

You can do it as follows:

  1. Get a toy and some treats that your Golden Retriever likes
  2. Drop the toy on the floor and say “take it” then quickly take some steps back and say “give” so that your Golden Retriever has to take a few steps to come and give the toy to you. Remember to reward it for doing so.
  3. Repeat the above and gradually increase the distance that your Golden Retriever needs to go to give you the toy.
  4. Now, instead of moving yourself, you’re going to make the Golden Retriever fetch the toy. Do this by initially throwing the toy a short distance and saying “fetch” then reward your Golden Retriever for getting the toy and giving it back to you.
  5. Repeat the above gradually increasing the distance it needs to go to get the toy.
  6. Once it gets good at it introduce new objects for it to fetch.

You can watch the video below to see how it is done

Why to teach your Golden Retriever to play fetch

There are a number of reasons that training your Golden Retriever to play fetch is beneficial. Below, I will mention a number of them.

Exercise

Golden Retrievers were bred to work with humans doing intensive tasks on a daily basis. This means that Golden Retrievers require a lot of exercise to be properly stimulated.

You might find that a one hour walk isn’t enough for your Golden Retriever but thankfully fetch can help you out here.

Since fetch gets your Golden Retriever to do a lot of sprinting without much rest in between it means that it will wear it out quickly.

Rewarding for you

It’s not easy to teach your Golden Retriever to play fetch. The benefit here is that it will be a very rewarding feeling once you have taught it to do it and you’ll be very proud of your Golden Retriever.

Get it to listen to you

It’s also beneficial because by teaching your Golden Retriever that listening to you gets it things that it likes it will make it have a positive association with listening to you. This will help you to control your Golden Retriever more easily.

Improve its behavior

By being able to give your Golden Retriever more exercise you’ll be able to prevent bad behaviors that come with a lack of exercise with less difficulty.

Teach it new things easily

Since fetch is such an efficient way to wear your Golden Retriever out it will actually help you in teaching it other things. The reason is that you’ll be able to play fetch with it first which will wear it out and help you to keep its focus on you when you train it.

Things to consider

When teaching your Golden Retriever to play fetch there are some things that you should keep in mind that will make it an easier process that I will mention below.

Be patient

Teaching your Golden Retriever to play fetch will probably be quite difficult to do. If it is hard then don’t get frustrated since it’s not unusual for it to be hard.

If it is difficult then just take a long-term approach to the training and continue to train your Golden Retriever to do it over time. Eventually, you’ll be able to get your Golden Retriever to do it.

Build up the distractions

The distractions that there are around your Golden Retriever when you’re trying to train it to play fetch will have a big impact on how easy or hard it is to keep its attention on you. That’s why you should try to limit the number of distractions that there are when you first teach it to your Golden Retriever.

Start in an easy environment

Since there are a lot less external events going on that can distract your Golden Retriever at home than there are at a park it would be easiest to start the training at home then to graduate to the park once it can do it at home.

It’s important to keep it interested

Keeping your Golden Retriever’s interest while training it will have a big impact on how easy or hard it is to train your Golden Retriever. This means that you should make a big fuss of your Golden Retriever when you reward it.

Do it regularly

Even after you have taught your Golden Retriever to play fetch it is important to play it with it regularly so that it doesn’t forget to do it and so that it gets more exercise.

Age

The age of your Golden Retriever will have an influence on how it is to train it.

If your Golden Retriever is still young then it will likely be a bit more hyperactive but this can be beneficial as it will be easier to keep its focus on the training if you keep it exciting. You can also give your Golden Retriever some exercise before training it so that you can keep its focus for longer.

Related

How to teach my Golden Retriever to fetch a frisbee? The method to train your Golden Retriever to play fetch with a frisbee is the same as mentioned above. Just make sure that the toy that you train it with is the frisbee itself.

Why won’t my Golden Retriever fetch? If your Golden Retriever won’t fetch then it will be necessary for you to teach it to. You can do this by employing the techniques in this post.

Why won’t my Golden Retriever bring the ball back? If your Golden Retriever won’t bring the ball back then you need to train it to do so. You should train it to do stages 2 and 3 in this post again so that it learns to bring it back to you.

If you would like learn everything that you need to know about how to have a happy, healthy and well-behaved Golden Retriever, take a look at this Golden Retriever ebook.

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