Training The Retrieve

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CHARLOTTE – Did you know teaching your dog to retrieve is a combination of several behaviors? For a dog that doesn’t naturally retrieve, breaking down the overall process into manageable steps is key for helping build success. Here’s a breakdown to teach retrieve:

  1. Start at the end: Teach your dog to drop, and reinforce him!
  2. Next, teach your dog to pick up the ball and drop it (Hint: make it fun! Roll the ball toward him gently so it’s “alive”)

When your dog is very good at picking up the ball, coming toward you, and dropping it:

  1. Build distance with the ball slowly
  2. Make it fun for the dog!

My biggest tip for retrieve:


We often focus on the toy. Our dog brings the ball back to us and immediately we ask for a drop it and then throw it again. This works for a small percentage of dogs who “live” for the chance to chase the ball but does not always work for the dog who loves to interact with you. Dogs are social creatures! When your dog does any part of the steps, celebrate with him! For example, when your dog drops the ball in step #1, celebrate. When your dog returns with the ball, give him lots of love, pets, and praise, then ask for the drop and celebrate more. Attention and praise are huge reinforcers of high value!

What have you taught your dog recently? We’d love to hear!

Sit, Stay, Play Dog Training & Behavior, (704) 641-1042

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