We know how important it is for dogs to get plenty of exercise and active play. One of the best ways to combine fitness with fun is by playing games of fetch! This activity offers several mutual benefits to dogs and owners, and appeals to a dog’s natural instinct to retrieve.
If you’ve played fetch before, you’ll already understand just how much dogs love to run wild when they hear ‘Go fetch!’. The word fetch derives from Old English 'facian', which means 'grasp and bring near', the same way dogs grasp things in their mouth before returning with them.
While some dog breeds (like Golden Retrievers), were specifically bred to retrieve prey to hunters without causing damage, not all dogs will naturally retrieve or know how to play fetch.
The good news is that you can teach your dog how to play fetch at any age! But to do so you need to have the right fetch dog toys to hand.
Learn more about choosing and using chase and fetch toys for dogs:
- What is fetch?
- Is playing fetch good for dogs?
- How to teach a dog to play fetch:
- What is the best toy for fetch?
- How to use a dog ball thrower:
What is fetch?
Fetch is a type of game that owners can play with their dogs, usually in outdoor spaces. The game involves throwing a dog ball or toy over a distance and shouting ‘fetch!’. This command indicates to a dog that it’s time to chase after the item and retrieve it.
This game does not come naturally to all dogs, but it is a skill that can be learnt through dog training.
Is playing fetch good for dogs?
Yes! Fetch is a game that offers so many benefits to both dogs and their owners. It is a good example of an activity that combines both physical exertion and interactive play.
Playing fetch is a great way to ensure that both you and your dog get enough daily exercise, while strengthening your relationship at the same time. The benefits of fetch for dogs include:
- Appeals to your dog’s natural instincts
- Provides the chance for you and your dogs to play together
- Reinforces good behaviour and responses
- An opportunity to make training fun
- Expends energy and helps to relieve stress
How to teach a dog to play fetch:
When getting training advice for games like fetch, always remember that no one knows your dog like you do. So, it's important to adapt our guidance below and work with your dog to find a natural flow.
How to teach your dog to play fetch step by step:
Step 1: The first step to teaching your dog to play fetch is ensuring they know and respond to the ‘Drop’ command. To teach a dog how to drop an item from its mouth, you can refer to Battersea’s guide. If your dog already knows this, please move on to Step 2.
Step 2: To help your dog understand that you want it something to be picked up, practise throwing one of its toys, ensuring it lands close by. When he or she picks up the toy, provide positive reinforcement with verbal praise and treats. It's important to start in a small space and repeat this several times, keeping your dog close to you so that you and the toy remain your dog's focus.
Top Tip: In the beginning, it's a good idea to train with a toy that your dog loves and will be motivated to retrieve!
Step 3: Once your dog has mastered the pickup, you can move into a larger, more open space. Your dog should be kept on a long lead and dog harness, particularly if it hasn't learnt a reliable recall yet. Engage your dog with the toy and get it excited to play! It's important to be active and continue to move your body, tug toys work very well for this. Then, you can start to throw the toy further away, shouting 'Fetch' each time you encourage the chase.
Step 4: As soon as your dog picks up the toy, start to call them back to you using their name and recall commands like 'Come' or 'Bring It'. When your dog returns, give lots of praise and continue to engage in play with games like tug of war.
Step 5: Continue to increase the throwing distance, and ignite prey drive by running away as soon as your dog picks up the toy. This will encourage your dog to chase after you and bring back the toy. Keep the excitement high as you move backwards and call out your dog's name. Once your dog has returned, utilise the 'Drop' command.
Two of the most common issues dog owners face when training fetch are:
- Their dog picks up the item, but won't return (which is why it's important to adjust your body language during training, increasing movement to encourage them to chase you)
- Their dog returns, but won't drop or release the toy (which is why learning the 'Drop It' command first is important)
What is the best toy for fetch?
Here at Barc, many of our toys have been designed to take games of fetch to the next level! We also have toys that can be utilised to help dogs and older puppies learn retrieving skills.
The best toys for fetch should be easy for you to throw, streamlined to go the distance and simple for your dog to grasp by mouth.
Barc London's fetch dog toys include:
Ball and rope tug toys:
These tug toys are particularly useful for when your dog is in the learning stage of playing games of fetch. With this type of toy, you can increase your dog's engagement and excitement to fetch with games like tug of war.
The design features a loop that is both easy for your dog to grasp and for you to swing. Made with thick, durable rope, our ball and rope toys are sturdy and resistant to wear and tear.
Tennis balls for dogs:
Unlike normal tennis balls, Barc balls are made from a non-abrasive felt to protect dogs' teeth and gums.
These dog balls are the perfect addition to any game of fetch, boasting a high bounce and loud squeak when chewed. Available in:
Dog ball thrower:
Without a strong throw, it can be hard to propel the ball far enough to allow your dog to chase and fetch over long distances.
This fetch dog toy is the ideal solution to this problem. Enabling you to increase your reach and launch the ball further than you would normally, dog ball throwers also help you conserve your energy.
This means more fun for you and your dog, and a longer playtime - win win!
How to use a dog ball thrower:
Our hand-held dog ball thrower can help to improve your throwing technique and get the ball to travel further over long distances.
Instead of throwing the ball by hand, you simply pop your Barc ball into the end holder, grip the arm of the thrower and fling it forward - you’ll be surprised by how far the ball goes!
Designed for simplicity, speed and distance, this ball thrower also makes it easy to pick up balls from the ground, so as soon as your dog drops it - you’re ready for round two!
A final note
Playing with dogs can be a great way to blow off some steam, spend time outdoors and continue to bond with your pup.
While fetch dog toys are ideal for active play, our luxury dog toy range also offers products to keep dogs entertained on busier days when independent play is preferred.