Monday, April 26, 2010

How I Taught Gibson Fetch

I received a lot of questions after my last post about how I went about 'teaching' Gibson fetch... so I thought I would share what I did in this post. It was definitely a gradual process, and to be honest, we are still working on it...but, if you are having trouble getting your dog to fetch, maybe these tips will help:

1. DON'T BE THE RETRIEVER
Gibson used to love to chase after whatever I was throwing for him, but never brought it back.. I would either go get it, or he'd take off with it and expect me to chase after. Now, I refuse to play with him unless he brings me the toy back after I throw it for him. He learned pretty quick that if he wanted to keep having fun, he had to bring me the toy.

2. USE REPETITIVE PHRASES
With any trick, it's good to teach a phrase for the dogs to pick up on whenever they are doing a particular action. For fetch, I have quite a few that I use:
  • Go Get It - Every time I toss a toy for Gibson, I say "Go Get It", signaling that it is the start of the game.
  • Drop it - This is really important. Once Gibson learned this, fetch became much easier. Sometimes dogs just don't want to give up the goodie in their mouth, which is a bad habit. I taught him to drop it when he was a puppy, by opening his mouth and saying "drop it" when the object would fall out. Now, he will do it on command, since he knows he gets rewarded w/ either a toss of the object or a treat (if he has something that isn't a toy in his mouth). If for some reason he is being a jerk, and keeps trying to pick the toy back up before I can get it, I make a loud "Eh!" noise until he backs off.
  • Bring it - I use this every time he comes back to me w/the toy. I usually say it a few times until he brings it all the way back. In addition to saying this, I also pat my legs to make the point that I want him to come to me. If he drops the toy on the way back to me, I stop saying anything to let him know the game is over.


3. REWARD
Rewards are always good to let a dog know he's doing something right. This is kind of the same as #2, as I use phrases to reward Gibson during fetch. My reward words are, "Good!!" and "Thannnnnk you" (it has to be said slowly like that haha). I make sure to say these whenever he does something right. If he brings it back I say, "Good!" and then when he drops it for me, I say "Thannnk you!". When I say these things I can see his eyes light up and he gets really excited for me to toss the toy again :)

4. REPEAT

The biggest thing that helped teaching fetch was to keep trying. The more Gibson plays fetch, the better he becomes. He used to only bring things back when I was throwing, but now he'll play w/Ben all the time too. It also helps when we go over to my parents house and he gets to play w/Coal who fetches like a maniac :) He sees what she does and tries to do the same.


So, there you have it. My fetch tips :) I feel like these should help those of you w/non-fetching dogs..and if not, maybe your pup is just no the fetching type!! :)

4 comments:

Karen and Bailey said...

That's exactly how I taught Bailey to fetch. LOL. We use the same cue words too (Go Get it!!!, Bring it back!!!, Drop it!!). it works wonders. Bailey didn't use to be a fetch dog (and he really isn't around other dogs), but if its just me and him , he loves to fetch. :)

the only thing bad about fetching it that.. well... I think dogs have this drive in them that tells them they need to bury the ball.. so baileys found a new hobby : DIGGING..HAH

lolcorgi said...

I just stumbled across your blog, and I love it! Our corgi, Jackson (his name was ALMOST Gibson also, my boyfriend wanted to name him after a guitar company, but we chose Jackson), also has a blog (lolcorgi.blogspot.com). Keep up the good work!

Whosyergurl said...

I just had the biggest giggle.
I thought your blogline read "How I taught Gibson FRENCH!"

mais oui!

hugs, Cheryl

Kelly said...

haha, Cheryl, THAT would be impressive! ;)

lolcorgi - glad to have found you too!

Karen - I don't think Gibson has every buried anything, so I guess I lucked out in that department!! :)

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