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:

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.

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.

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 :)


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!! :)


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 ( 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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