It is worth taking the time to teach your dog to retrieve balls and/or other toys and objects for you. This foundation skill opens up a host of tricks and fun activities to play together from ‘play ball’ to ‘bring in the paper’ to ‘carry your lead’. Here are a few tips for getting started:
· Always reward your puppy for putting anything in his mouth and presenting it to you. Be prepared to swap anything your dog brings you with a tasty treat or other reward.
· Do not chase your puppy when he has something in his mouth, as this will trigger a game of ‘catch me if you can’ not ‘retrieve’. Encourage your dog to come to you instead.
· Play with two toys of equal value. For example throw one tennis ball in one direction. When your puppy has run after it and picked it up, show him that you have a second ball – and throw it in the opposite
· Keep your best retrieval toys as ‘special’ – put them away when you’re not playing together. By removing the toys you are taking control of your interactive games and increasing the value of the toys.
· Keep sessions short and fun – remember to quit before your dog gets tired of the game.