Teaching fetch for the first time? Here’s what to do, according to one trainer

Dog holding toy in mouth outside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Fetch is a great game to play with your dog to give them that all-important physical and mental stimulation, and tap into their natural instincts – plus it’s fun for humans, too, and a great bonding activity!

You might think that all dogs will naturally ‘get’ fetch straight away, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, you might have to teach your dog how to play fetch with one of the best dog toys. Fortunately, however, it’s not difficult to do so. 

Certified dog trainer Melissa Goodman of Mission Pawsitive has offered some tips on teaching your pup fetch in a recent Instagram post – what do you think? 

“I always teach any retrieve game on leash, so the dog can’t take the toy and run away,” Goodman says. “Short throws are best to start with, and the leash is also helpful to get the dog to bring the toy directly to you.”

If your dog is on leash, you can keep them close, and stop them from doing things you don’t want them to do, too. Not only that, but it helps to build engagement with your pup. Do dogs get bored? It’s a question you may have asked in the past, and the truth is that they certainly can! So, it’s a good idea to keep them entertained when you can. 

She says that she rarely starts teaching fetch with a ball. As she wants the game to be interactive, she prefers using a toy that she can add more movement to – this adds more chase and allows you to incorporate elements of tug in there too. As a result, interacting with you becomes the best part of the game for your pup. 

“If your dog finds the interactive part most fun,” she says, “That will make bringing the toy directly to you when you throw it much more desirable.”

Goodman also introduces a cue for the dog to give the toy directly to her, but her main focus is on getting the ‘retrieve’ aspect of the game sorted first. 

“I want dogs to bring the toy directly to my hands,” she says in the caption. “I personally don’t like when dogs drop the toy all over the place and want you to come get it, psych you out by grabbing it before you can, and playing keep away.”

Ultimately, the aim is to make fetch a really interactive game – this is what most dogs tend to love anyway. There’s no reason why you can’t switch to a ball when your pup has gotten the hang of things, but there are so many other great toys out there to try!

Fetch is one of our eight great games for puppies that will keep them entertained for hours, but there are so many more exciting games to try, too. What game will you play with your pup next? 

Chuckit! Paraflight Dog Toy 
$18.99 at Chewy

Chuckit! Paraflight Dog Toy
$18.99 at Chewy
Featuring a soft rubber edge that's gentle on your dog's teeth and gums, this durable frisbee uses bright colors to aid visibility and because it floats on water, it can be used in the sea or pool for a splashing good time! 

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at DogTime.com, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.