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Error-Free Puppy Raising™ Tips

by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS

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Getting Started Week 42 - Go Fetch

Not every breed will retrieve or even chase a ball.  Some breeds - such as retrievers - will retrieve an object and bring it to you with little or no instruction. You can teach your puppy to "fetch" if you go very slowly and make this game fun.

Start by getting your puppy's most favorite possessions such as bones, toys, or balls. Make sure you have at least two to start. Squeaky toys work great for those canines that like that sort of thing.  Begin by getting your your puppy's attention and showing your excitement about playing a game. 

Call your puppy to you. As soon as your puppy looks at your - praise.  Your goal is to get the puppy to come to you. Show the first toy.  Praise the puppy for coming to you. When the puppy gets there, give a wonderful back rub and praise. Then, throw another toy just a few feet away from you. If your puppy goes anywhere near the toy, praise enthusiastically. Think of the game - warmer, warmer, (colder, colder) when you begin to shape a new behavior.

Praise more enthusiastically for the behaviors you are encouraging.If your puppy picks up the toy - increase your praise and enthusiasm. If your puppy brings the toy to you, give a tasty treat and really fuss over this performance. 

The MOST important thing to know
about teaching "fetch" is - do NOT take away the toy - as a result of the retrieve. (That's a loss not a win for your puppy.) Instead, give your puppy something wonderful to show your appreciation for the retrieve. Say, "Go fetch!" enthusiastically as you throw the ball or toy. Stop after just a few repetitions to keep the game fresh and interesting.

Keep this goal in mind. You want your puppy to learn how fun it is to chase an object and return to you, and even more fun when he/she brings back the object to you. Remember, all learning is trial and error. Keep it fun!

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