- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


Fetch vs Retrieve

February 22nd, 2010, 12:17 AM
Hi, I'm new, I signed up here because I have this question (problem)

I have a dog around 2 years. I don't know exactly because she was "dropped off" in a forest and I took her in. She is amost 2 years old.

Anyway, I tried to train her myself and she was a good dog but things like her pulling during walks and other large dog issues made me hire a trainer. (Bark Busters) I am now the master, she is an even more wonderful dog.

However, the dog trainer doesn't help with training tricks or special things. He only does behavioural issues.

I want to teach my dog to pick up a toy and bring it with her. Sometimes she brings a rope toy or Kong toy wherever and then when I'm going somewhere else I want her to bring it. She just looks at me.

Tonight I googled playing fetch and I tried it in the house with 2 tennis balls. Worked amazing. I didn't even have treats. I did teach her fetch outside before we got the trainer when she was less than 1 year old.

However, as soon as I threw the kong toy, and said "go get it" she did nothing. Maybe walked over to it but then nothing. Similar response that I get when I try to get her to pick up her toy to bring it.

Any advice? Do I need to use a different command for the obviously different task? How can I teach this task? I try even going to the kong and tapping my foot next to it and say "here" and I get no response. I know the knog is obviously not a novelty item. She has it anytime. But that's the point. I want her to be able to pick up whatever I point at and tell her to pick up.

Thank you!


February 22nd, 2010, 11:59 AM
First, try teaching the task in small steps, not all at once. This is where a clicker comes in handy. (To get the dog to understand what the clicker does you click-treat, click-treat, until she starts looking for a treat after every click.) You use the clicker to tell the dog exactly when she has done what you want (timing it right takes some practice and patience).
You want her to bring the Kong. Start slowly, click for going towards the kong. Remember every click= treat. Then, when she will go to the kong reliably, start clicking only when she is right in front of the kong. Then, click for nose touching the kong, then click for kong in mouth. this takes several sessions but if you have the patience for it it works really well. Try Googling clicker training and you will find lots of sites explaining why clicker training works, and how to do it properly.

February 22nd, 2010, 02:55 PM
hmm the clicker method eh? Thanks for the idea.

what would be the verbal commands that I'm giving her during this time? How much do I repeat the command, how long do I wait before I ignore the wrong action and don't click at all?

Are clickers hard to find?

Thanks again,


February 23rd, 2010, 10:43 AM
Just to let you know, I'm just starting to learn how to do clicker training properly, I'm by no means an expert, though I have been reading all the clicker training books I can get my hands on there is a difference between head knowledge and experience. Try a website callled it has lots of articles.
Clickers: you can get cheap ones at Petsmart for $1.50, but anything that makes the same sound consistently will work, even a pen that no longer has ink can be used as a clicker provided you always use the same sound (one with ink may result in ink all over you hands :D)
With the clicker method you shape the behavior slowly, without any commands, or cues, until the behavior is learned. Only when the dog or other animal is doing what you want predictably do you assign a command. So, you've gone through the steps. You have worked up to the point where, when she sees the clicker and kong she goes to the kong. That would be the point where you can predict what she is going to do. you can start adding the command AS she does the action. Then you start giving her the command before she starts going to the kong. Then you start clicking only when she gets the kong in response to your command.

February 23rd, 2010, 12:12 PM
good luck in your fetch training. I guess I lucked out - Scruffy picked up fetch in no time. Now he won't stop! lol
Great way to exercise them.
Also welcome to the forums.