Dog Training

How to Teach a Dog to Fetch in 5 Easy Steps

Playing fetch with your pet is incredibly fun, but first you’ll have to teach your pet to play Relax! Learning how to teach a dog to fetch is very easy!

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Table of contents

Why Learn How to Teach a Dog to Fetch?

Playing fetch is a fun activity that is also very easy; all you need is an object your dog can fetch . When you've learned how to teach a dog to fetch, you can play any time, even during walks. This game will keep your pet mentally and physically exercised.

Most dogs have a strong "bring" instinct within them. It is therefore very helpful for keeping your dog busy and occupied. Once you have the basics down, the playful back-and-forth game is a lot of fun for both of you.

What Does 'Fetch' Mean?

The word "fetch" comes from the German 'fassen' and means 'to graspThe word used to refer to the idea of reaching for something in order to bring it back. 

Your dog can learn to fetch all kinds of objects. Sticks, Frisbees, dummies, and prey dummies, among other things. The idea is that whatever you throw,your dog will fetch it.

What Do I Need to Play Fetch?

Essentially, learning how to teach a dog to fetch only requires three things:

  1. A suitable object to fetch, , like a prey dummy. The item should be easy to carry, comfortable for your pet, and not too hard. 
  2. A attractive reward. Your dog will have fun playing fetch, but he’lll be more motivated if you have an encouraging treat in hand.
  3. A drag leash. This prevents your pet from running off with the prey dummy to stash it away.

Focus on encouraging your dog's fetching spirit.. This means rewarding him for fetching things for you, not just for chasing any flying object.

Can Any Dog Learn How to Play Fetch?

Every dog can learn how to fetch. It's a plus if you teach yours basic commands, too. These include 'sit', 'down', 'come', 'bring', and 'okay'. Additionally, having your pet used to the leash is another bonus.

The most important thing in fetch training is to make it clear that bringing you what you want will pay off for your dog. 

As for the training, prey dummy or prey dummies are great. This should be a special object, something your dog does not have at his disposal all the time. This increases their interest.

If your pet brings you the desired item, reward them for it. Make sure you fill the prey dummy with a really tasty treat, like meat sticks. The usual dry kibbles might not do the trick.

This reward should be given to your dog only when they fetch properly. Ultimately, it should be a trade for your pet: treats for bringing back the prey dummy. 

In the beginning, you will probably need a lot of treats to keep your pet motivated. This changes over the course of the training. 

Many dogs enjoy playing fetch themselves. They love looking for things or chasing them, bringing them to you, and cooperating with you.

How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch in 5 Simple Steps

You can easily master how to teach a dog to fetch. Here's our recommended method: 

1) Fill the Prey Dummy

It is best to use a prey dummy before training. Show your dog the dummy and play with it for a few moments while they watch. This will awaken your pet's interest.

Fill the dummy with delicious treats while standing in front of your dog. Rumen smells particularly intense and thus increases the attractiveness of the food dummy, but you can also use another snack that your dog loves and very rarely receives.

Let your dog eat something from the dummy. This will make them realize it's really worth focusing on the dummy.

2) Throw the Prey Dummy

This is where the drag leash comes into play. Leash your dog first, then throw the prey dummy a short distance away and issue the command, “Fetch!” 

Remember to have the drag leash loose at all times. 

3) Reward Your Dog

When your dog has picked up the dummy, praise him exuberantly and call him over. 

Issue a command like 'okay' or 'give' to get the prey dummy back. 

If your dog obeys, give him the treats inside the dummy. This way, your pet will learn that chasing their prey and giving it to you was the right choice. 

Train these three steps until your dog has them ingrained.

4) Practice Without the Leash

It's time to say bye-bye to the drag leash. Don't worry, your dog probably won't elope with the prey dummy. By now, he’ll have learned that he’ll get a treat from you when he surrenders the prey.

  • Give your dog the command 'sit' and move away from him. 
  • Crouch down and put the prey dummy on the floor in front of you. 
  • Call your dog. 
  • Let your dog pick up the prey dummy.
  • Finally, they should leave the dummy alone at your command.

Praise your pet when they master this exercise and give them some treats. After all, it's pointless to know how to teach a dog how to fetch if you don't reward them for learning.

5) Throw the Object Farther Away

At this stage, increase the distance between your dog and the item to fetch.

  • Issue the 'sit' command.
  • Move away from your dog with the prey dummy in hand and place it a few meters away. Back away.
  • You can also hide the dummy while your dog is watching you. Search games are a lot of fun for most pups. What's more, this gives the training even more variety.

With the commands 'fetch' or 'search', you can order your beloved pet to fetch an item and return it to you.

What If Your Dog Doesn't Return with the Item?

his is a possibility, especially at the beginning of the training . There are dogs that will try to get the prey dummy to safety and then open it themselves to eat the treats.

Make sure the prey dummy is in great condition. Your dog must understand that only you can open it and retrieve the contents for them. 

If your overzealous pet does run off with the prey dummy, you'll still have no issues if the treats are safe.

When this happens:

  • Approach your dog. 
  • Get your dog off the dummy with a command like 'okay.' 
  • Show them you can open the prey dummy and reward them.

In this way, your dog will understand they need your help. Only by cooperating with you will they get what they want.

How to Teach a Dog to Fetch with a Clicker

Clicker Training

If your dog is not that interested in fetching, you can use a clicker.

At first, the prey dummy may be an uninteresting item for your pet. This can be changed through clicker training.

Train with the clicker until your dog understands that the dummy is something great.

Buy using the clicker, you can teach your puppy:

  • To pick up the prey dummy. 
  • To keep it undamaged.
  • To hand it over to you.

Tips on Clicker Training

In order for the training to be a success, it is worthwhile to pay attention to a few points:

  1. Your dog should be rested and ready to fetch the chosen item. This will help them stay focused during training.
  2. Practice in a quiet room inside your home. Avoid distracting noises and side activities
  3. Hold the prey dummy in your hand and show it to your dog. Use the clicker when they pay attention to it and provide a treat. 
  4. After doing this a few times reward your pet only when they touch the prey dummy.
  5. At long last, it is time to teach your dog to fetch. The real goal is to make your dog hold the dummy in their mouth without damaging it. Then, they should return the prey dummy to you. Press the clicker when your dog holds the prey dummy momentarily and puts it in your hand after. You can hold out your hand demonstratively to your pet at the beginning.

Once your dog has mastered this, increase the distance . Do this gradually so that the exercise becomes more and more difficult, exciting, and challenging for your pet. 


Learning how to teach a dog to fetch is a meaningful activity for any owner to know . With this, you'll be physically and mentally engaging your pet. Besides, retrieving is a lot of fun and helps you grow together as a team.

However, while it's crucial to know how to teach your dog basic commands before training, you can teach your pet how to play fetch anytime, anywhere. The only difference is that knowing other commands makes the training easier.

Written by Anja Boecker
Written by Anja Boecker

My name is Anja Boecker and I am a dog trainer and behavior consultant (IHK certificate). With these articles I would like to help you understand your dog better and build an inseparable bond.

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