Teach Retriever to Force Fetch

When you teach retriever to force fetch you are teaching one of the basics of hunting and field trials. Older methods involve negative reinforcement which is stressful on both you and the dog.

teach retriever to force fetchPositive reinforcement is less stressful and will strengthen the bond between you and your dog, so that is the method we recommend.

How to Teach Retriever to Force Fetch

You will need a clicker, a bag of treats and a canvas dummy to perform this. Plastic dummies are harder to work with because they get slippery when wet. Take it slow and repeat each step over and over before moving on to the next step. Remember to exercise patience and consistency whilst rewarding with praise for every bit of progress.

  • Preparation. Clicker and treats in hand, call your dog. Click and feed him a treat. Keep doing this for a bit to get him to associate the clicker with a reward. Click, reward, click, reward. Continue this for a few days, several times a day.
  • Click with the dummy. Now you move on to the next step where you present the dummy to the dog and when your dog takes it or touches it, click. He then associates the reward with the dummy. Give him a treat if he looks your way. Keep repeating this manoeuvre, praising and clicking until you get the desired reaction.
  • Up the game. Now move on to the next step where you wait until he picks up the dummy before you click.
  • Moving on. Now you want him to pick up the dummy and bring it to you. Let him pick it up and when he turns towards you holding the dummy, click and reward.
  • Don’t advance. If you advance towards your dog when he has the dummy in his mouth, his natural reaction will be to run, expecting you to chase. Stand still or take a step back so that he is forced to come to you.
  • Final step. This is where the dog picks up the dummy, brings it to you, sits at heel and releases it into your hand. Be lavish with treats and praise when he gets it right.

The older method to teach retriever to force fetch requires inflicting pain on the dog by way of a toe hitch or by pinching the ear to make the dog open its mouth. The dummy is then placed in the mouth and the pain is removed. The dog learns that to avoid the pain it must always have something in its mouth. No doubt this is effective, but seems somewhat cruel if you can achieve the same results in a more humane manner.

Teach Retriever to Force Fetch for Hunting

  • Getting the scent. Get a duck or pigeon wing to replace the dummy or attach feathers to it. This will get him accustomed to the scent of prey.

Retrievers have instinctive talents for this type of training so all you have to do is tap into them to teach retriever to force fetch successfully.