Do you usually play “fetch a ball” with your dog? I believe that no dog owner would miss this game. When playing this game, first of all, you will feel relaxed, comfortable and enjoyable. It is good to leave your busy working day and spend maybe just an afternoon each week having fun with your little dog. Also, knowing how to train your dog to fetch a ball would do great help to improve its behavior. Secondly, your dog will not only be trained how to pick up the ball and get it back to you but also have a new game to play with its owner. It’s a win-win.
You can call it a game and a training lesson as well. As you know, each lesson consists of different steps. Based on what I’ve looked into Doggy Dan’s training session to teach his 6-month old dog how to fetch a ball, I will come up with two basic and fundamental steps to get your dog into this “ball fetching” game. The very first thing to bear in mind is staying patience.
To be honest, everything needs a certain level of patience to be accomplished. A lot of people are so fed up with their naughty dog that they give up the whole training session. If you want to succeed, patience is the initial key point. Without it, nothing can be done the way you want it to be. Now, let’s get started with the steps.
Step 1: Get your dog ready for the “fetch a ball” game
What it means here is that you should raise motivation for your dog to start the game. If your dog sits in a corner, actively attract its attention. And how exactly are we going to proceed? The answer is by having other dogs around. When your dog sees its crew of the same kind, there’s no way to stop it from standing up from the corner, running right to the pack and enjoying the game.
Then, you will question where you can get that many dogs. Actually, it doesn’t need to be too many. Two to three more dogs along with yours would be already perfect. You can borrow your neighbors’ dogs, your relatives’ dogs or from friends. It is just for a couple of hours so I think they will be alright with this.
The power of the pack has more impact than you imagine. No matter how lazy your dog is, other dogs still have the ability to draw its attention. For example, have you ever stopped by the side walk to see what a crowd is gathering for? That is “crowd effect”. People have tendency to follow the crowd or the majority, whether good or bad. Same to dogs.
Next, let your dog get used to chasing the ball by watching the other dogs. Like I said, the “crowd effect” just makes it do the same thing the crowd does. Sooner or later, the act of chasing the ball whenever it is thrown away will gradually become a habit. By doing this, you are half-way to the end of the lesson on how to train your dog to fetch a ball. But there is a thing you have to take notice of.
You may see at first, when you throw the ball, the others are chasing the ball and your dog is just chasing them instead of caring about the ball. Believe me, it is all fine. Don’t lose your patience by this point. If your dog is still young, of course, it would take more time than what you anticipate. It takes time to make it get familiar with the game for the first time.
So, it is not a problem at all if your dog’s concentration is not on the ball in its first time playing the game. Stay patient and things will move towards the bright way. Remember, don’t be angry and shout at it all the time. Gentle and well – mannered owners will have dogs with similar traits. You want your dog to be the way you want, you have to be that way initially. Be a pack leader to create power to let it follow you. That is one of the crucial tips to turn a dog into an obedient and well – trained one.
Step 2: Take control of the environment
The first phase
How? Just with a line at whatever length. The suggested length would be around 6 meters. But, don’t take it too serious, use a line with length you prefer. Then, put it on your dog’s neck. It comes to the point that you think you should take hold of the line. I’ll tell you what. Don’t do that. The line is just something to help you keep an eye on your dog. And this is the beginning phase, don’t rush.
As your dog is familiar with chasing and catching the ball, you can move on. When the dog gets the ball, catch him with the line. You can try to call his name to let it come to you. But, here it the mistake that most people make when training their puppy to play this game.
This is really important, Once you get it wrong, you will ruin the whole thing you have done so far. Please notice and bear it in your mind that never chase your dog when it gets the ball. If you chase it, you start to do the exactly opposite thing to what you want it to do. So, please remember and don’t make this huge mistake. When your dog happens to run away, calm down, call it and give it a treat. Things will go right back in order.
Want to see the result? Watch this video from the minute 1:20.
As you can see, instead of chasing the dog after it gets the ball, Dan waited and stood still to make a sign that he was not gonna chase it. And he called his dog with the treat in his hands so that it could get the ball to him. Later, with several repetition, the dog found it much more of a habit to chase, catch the ball, and when it knew the ball was what Dan needed, it dropped and got the treat from Dan. Done with fetch a ball. Just easy like a piece of cake. If you accomplish your job, you will get reward. That’s what motivates the dog most.
The second phase
At this phase, I’ll show you how to use the line. First, stand on the line which means hold it in your hands. Now, the line acts like a direction to let your dog come towards you actively. After standing on the line, you can say to the dog “Bring it here”. It allows you to take control of your dog, the ball as well as the whole situation so that nothing will go off track. Your extreme power lies on the line.
Without using the line, people often end up chasing the dog. As I mentioned before, that is a huge mistake that you should never make. Chasing it completely goes against what you are trying to do the whole time. Try to avoid it as hard as possible. Don’t mess things up when it nearly reaches the end of the road.
But, listen. To whose dogs are already absolutely obedient and submissive at first, the ones that can be called back easily with food reward, it’s not necessary to use the line. The line is there just to make sure nothing goes far from your control. If you are sure that your dog will have no unexpected behavior, the line becomes optional.
After hours and hours of training, put the external distraction which is the other dogs away. It’s time for your dog to do this on its own, without a trigger. Follow steps in order. Throw the ball to turn on its excitement. When motivation is on, it will run and catch the ball right away. Next, it will get the ball and come back quite subconsciously towards you. It will drop the ball to your feet because it knows there is a treat awaiting in your hands.
The whole process now happens habitually. It is no longer a “how to train your dog to fetch a ball” lesson and turns into a game to the dog. Once in a while, it will be more interesting and intriguing for the dog if you change the ball to something different, for instance, a stick or a plastic disk. Additionally, to create more inspiration, don’t hesitate to switch treat. You can make it a big food reward to congratulate your dog for accomplishing the task.
With passion for dogs, be flexible, comfortable and temperate to yours. Again, do not shout, rush or chase which is totally counter-productive. The more patient you are, the better your training process works on your dog. Patience holds the core of the process. As long as you stay calm, your dog ain’t go anywhere but just stick to your words and do whatever you want.
That is the end of two simple steps I want to mention when you get your dog involved in this “dog training game”. Considering it a game would make things a lot easier for you to control. It is, of course, still a part of a training session. However, make your dog feel like it is a game to motivate its mood into the act. Also, I would like to put more emphasis on the two notes indicated above. First is being patient. If you cannot be, you will fail. It is not an exaggeration. Trust me, calm yourself down under any circumstances and keep well track of your dog. Second is not chasing your dog when its gets the ball. Believe it or not, unwanted behavior can occur if you chase it.
These two steps with two little notes are everything I’d love to share with all you guys in today blog. For the information from the video, thank you Doggy Dan who provides us fundamental and useful steps to play “ball fetching” with dogs. To all the lovely readers, there is no word that I can fully express my appreciation to your spending time on my writing. It is a great pleasure to serve you with valuable information about dog training.
Here we are today to see how to train your dog to fetch a ball. Moreover, when you try to apply those stages, let me know the result. If you find it interesting, please stay tuned for more and more, tricks and methods to effectively turn your dog into an obedient and submissive one.
We’ll come back soon with new and interesting blogs!