6 Tips to Teach your Dog to Play Fetch

When we posed this question to the southeast Michigan pet owners and dog owner in our stores, we received a handful of different responses - so we knew that giving away some tips on teaching your dog to play fetch would be a good pupdate that our readers would enjoy. While some dogs seem to understand fetch intrinsically and are professionals from day one, a handful of other Wags to Wiskers customers told us about some other reactions, such as:

  • You throw it, and Buddy sits and stares at you wondering why you threw that perfectly good stick or tennis ball that he was playing with.

  • You throw it, and Abby runs and pounces and you’re full of hope but they stay 40 yards away chewing obliviously to your heartrending disappointment.

So what can you do to turn your dog into one that loves to fetch, and bring back their toy? Our Wags to Wiskers team has put together six tried and true tips to turn your puppy into a pro! After all, fetch is a great way to tire out your pup, especially as fall and winter approach in southeast Michigan and the days and walks are getting a bit shorter.

Start with Chasing

This is especially important if your pup stares at you like the light’s not on up there, but not to worry because the basic principle is like teaching your dog anything. Positive reinforcement through treats, affection, play, or all three! Start with short distances and progressively throw the toy further away - you may want to begin inside the house!

Building Anticipation

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In order to encourage your dog to chase even more, consider throwing the item that they are playing with, and then holding them back. Combined with verbal reinforcement, this should result in Charlie getting extra excited to run after that toy or ball.


We need to teach your furry little monster to bring that toy back once he’s got it to really teach your dog how to play fetch! Our dog owners in southeast Michigan have helped the team at Wags to Wiskers come up with a few strategies, and we feel that the top strategy to begin with is to start out with a handful of toys/tennis balls to use with. Once you’ve thrown one, you can use another toy to bring Buck back to you. This will teach your pup to run back to you, and you can work on adding a “drop” command to complete the routine.

Stay Away from Playing “Keep Away”

Dog owners have been there - Gulliver gets the toy and runs away and you have a 0% chance of catching him. An easy solution would be playing with a toy that’s on a rope or string. Make sure to use your methods of positive reinforcement when they do get to you!

Getting the Toy Back

Your reaction depends on your dogs behavior. If Lucy likes to drop the toy before they get to you, back away while encouraging her to bring it to you. It’s important that once they reach the spot where you were first located, meet her there and praise her! If she won’t drop it, try trading it for a treat - this has an almost 100% success rate!

Make Sure Your Dog Wants To Play Fetch

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We can’t stress this enough! The walk, and the play, is more for your dog than it is for you. It’s great if you enjoy it, and you should, but it’s important that it’s something that your dog wants to do. You can try to change the object of desire - maybe Lucky prefers a frisbee, or a stick, or a tennis ball, or a bone. Come check out what we’ve got in our toy and chewy aisles at your local southeast Michigan Wags to Wiskers Pet Supplies store and speak with an associate for our best recommendations!

We hope you enjoy these 6 tips on how to teach your dog to play fetch! If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to stop in and ask!