Tricks & Training

Dog Fetch Training: How To Get Your Dog To Bring Something Back To You

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By Carrie

Have you tried to teach your dog to fetch a ball or a frisbee, but he won’t bring it back to you?

He’ll only catch, but not fetch and return the item to you?

Some dogs, when they’re given the fetch command, are more focused on the item they caught than on actually bringing it back to you. To get a dog to follow-through takes a bit more training (and patience).

Lots of dogs will chase after a ball or other retrieving toy, but when they get it they not only won’t bring it back, but actually run away from you with it when you try to get it back. Actually, the dog has simply taken charge of the game and changed the rules from “fetch” to “tag” or “keep away.” 

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To get your dog to bring the item back to you when teaching your dog the fetch command, try the following dog fetch training tips…

Dog Fetch Training With My Dogs

My dogs are pretty good with the fetch command.

Teaching my dogs to fetch was actually pretty simple. And I’ve been lucky; they’ve always followed through without a problem.

Here’s how I did it:

  • With the toy in my hand, I asked them to sit.
  • Then, in a really excited voice, I asked if they were ready.
  • I threw the ball and — in an excited voice — said, “Go get it!”
  • Once they got close to the item I (again, in an excited voice) said, “Pick it up!”
  • After they picked up the item, I told them to “Bring it.”

By using the same cue words and keeping all of my commands in a very excited tone of voice, it kept my dogs interested in getting the item I tossed for them.

You might also want to try this with a treat in your hand, because some dogs are more motivated by treats than others.

Dog Not Following Through?

If you’ve tried those steps, and your dog still won’t follow through and bring the item back to you, it’s time for a new tactic.

Try simply getting your dog to run back to you after he has retrieved the item that you tossed for him.

Here’s how:

Once your dog has the item in his mouth, start running away from him.  That’s right… away from him! Your dog should instinctively start to run after you.  He thinks you want him to chase you.

Dog Drops The Item Too Early?

What if your dog repeatedly drops the item out of his mouth while running back to you or a few feet short of where you are?

In that case, try this:

  • Walk to the item he dropped.
  • Then, move the item, but don’t pick the item up.  (Your dog is more likely to pick up something that is moving, so just move the item around a bit with your foot.)
  • Don’t rush it. This process may take a few minutes before your dog picks up the item again.
  • Once your dog picks up the item, start running away from him to have him bring it back to you.  (By getting your dog to chase you, you are encouraging him to bring something back to you.)

See These Dog Fetch Training Tips In Action

In this video you can see step-by-step how to get your dog to follow-through with the fetch command and bring the item back to you:

Just For Fun

Once your dog begins to follow-through and he actually bring items back to you, it’s time to move on to fetching more unique items. (This will really impress your friends, too!)

For example, teach your dog to fetch the mail.

Once your dog gets the hang of “fetch,” he will be able to retrieve just about anything:

READ NEXT: Our 101 Best Dog Tricks!

A Word Of Advice

If you first teach your dog the fetch command indoors, it may be harder to achieve follow-through later when you ask him to fetch outdoors.

The reason is there are so many other sights and smells to distract him outside, so it will take a bit more practice (and patience on your part).

More Dog Fetch Training Tips