German Shepherd Dogs are known for being very intelligent. However, this does not mean they come trained! As a herding dog, fetching a ball on their owner is not necessarily a natural thing. Chasing the ball, maybe, but bringing it back instead of just playing with it themselves can be a hard thing to teach them. If you are struggling, don’t give up! No matter how old your Shepherd is, he can learn to fetch a ball back to you and even place it in your hand! The following three tips will help you teach your German Shepherd to play fetch.
#1 – Start With The End
In dog training, we call this “back chaining.” Back chaining a behavior means you start with the last piece of the behavior. So in this case you would start by teaching your German Shepherd to pick up a toy and place it in your hand. This is done easiest through shaping with a clicker.
#2 – Use A Special Toy
At first, it can help to use a special toy your German Shepherd loves and only use it for this training session. This helps for two reasons. One, dogs don’t generalize their learning so using the same object each time will help your dog recall the lesson from last time so you can move on quicker. And two, if it’s something he really likes he will be more likely to want to pick it up and stay focused on it for the training.
#3 – Build Up Distance
Once your German Shepherd is picking up that toy and placing it in your hand, you can start to toss it for him to “fetch.” But don’t chuck it as far as you can the first time. Instead, build up distance by first just tossing it a foot away from you. If your German Shepherd immediately picks it up and puts it in your hand, you know he has the concept and you can increase the distance of the toss. If he fails three times in a row, however, you may need to shorten the distance or go back and reinforce the picking up and placing in your hand some more.
Do you want a healthier & happier dog? Join our email list & we'll donate 1 meal to a shelter dog in need!