We all know that Golden Retrievers were bred to retrieve so it may seem that fetch would be something they would just naturally do without a lot of training. However, just because it is what they were orginally bred for, does not mean all Goldens are natural fetchers. You will find ones that like to chase the ball but not bring it back, or will come to you but then not drop it for you to throw again. If you are having trouble, try these three tips to teach your Golden Retriever 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 Golden Retriever 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 Golden Retriever 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 Golden Retriever 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 Golden Retriever 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.
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