Dog Training Tips

Tips to teach your Dog to bring the ball back

The game of throwing and bringing is one of the classics with which dogs and people have fun together. Many dogs have a strong instinct to bring objects and learn to do so without any special training. However, if the basics are known, the game can be even more fun. We give you a couple of tips on how to teach a dog to bring the ball.

Why teach the dog to bring the ball?

Many dogs have a lot of fun coming and going because they move and follow their instincts (running, carrying prey). In addition, joint training reinforces the link between dogs and humans. People learn their body language and thus improve communication between themselves and dogs. You can practice the game perfectly at home or during the walk. Depending on the training, you can increase the concentration of the dog with exercises or physically test it. The most important thing about the game is the fun it has in common. That’s why you should only practice it through positive reinforcement.

What do you need?

The object to play with is called an apport. In professional dog sports, special equipment is used, with materials and weights prescribed for training and testing. Those who play for fun can use almost any object that fits in the dog’s mouth. The best are specific toys for dogs since everyday objects often cause problems. A piece of wood can chip and hurt, and tennis balls end up attacking tooth enamel.

Choose a fun toy, such as a stuffed animal, a snack bag, a lure, or a ball. Balls can be thrown very well, but at first, this is not so important. You can practice at home or in a fenced garden. Depending on the dog and the environment, it may be convenient to play with the tracking belt outdoors.

How to teach your dog to bring the ball: the first time

Most dogs have an instinct to bring in objects. Many puppies do it without any training, but even the «innate talents» benefit from proper training.

How do I start?

Put the apport in front of your dog and praise him as soon as he catches it with his mouth. Use a word you already know, such as «well» or «well done». After a while, remove it with an order, as «loose». Reward him immediately with a trinket, so he doesn’t get the impression that you’re taking his prey. On the contrary, the dog understands that it receives something rich when it drops the object.

When this exercise works perfectly, it gradually increases the level of difficulty. Put the object a little further away, and congratulate the dog as soon as it comes to you. With puppies, just leave the toy and go a few meters.

Throw and bring

If the first steps work and the dog brings you the object willingly, you can start throwing it away. It is important not to start too soon. Otherwise, the dog will focus more on running than bringing the object. If you obey orders like «wait» or «sit down», do not give the order until after you throw the object. Thus, the training will be more controlled. When the dog shows signs of going for the lure or toy, enter an order as «brings». If it comes groping towards you, reward it!

Now it’s time to perfect the technique. Ideally, I should bring the toy directly into your hands. Praise him when he stands in front of you with the apport, and, in no case, take it off immediately. The dog will learn: «When I approach my human with the toy, he praises me. How cool!». Change it for a trinket.

Practical with the bag for snacks

Some dogs are not interested in throwing and bringing, but they can be convinced with feed. A bag with food is ideal for these dogs. To practice, drag the bag a little on the floor. If the dog tries to put it in his mouth, praise him and give him the reward of the bag. Then put the bag back on the floor. As soon as you put it in his mouth, step away. If he follows you with it in your mouth, congratulate him and give him a trinket from the bag.

Dog bringing the ball

In between, the hairy one can try to reach the desired meal himself. In the end, you will learn that you can only get the delicacies if the snack bag is in your hand. Training with bags for snacks awakens the desire of some dogs to play with objects.

How to teach a dog to bring the ball: problems

The dog does not bring the toy

Some dogs run around with the toy in front of the person, but they don’t want to bring it. They prefer their humans to try to take it away. Do not let him convince you to do so, as the dog has to concentrate on returning the prey. Never run after him to get to the lure or snack bag. Be patient: the time will come when the dog comes to you. When it does, reward it with a trinket. You can also use the tracking strap. Other tips:

  • Don’t get in front of the dog.
  • Get on your squats.
  • Don’t catch the decoy too soon.
  • Praise your dog when he brings it to you.
  • Train him in short sessions.

The dog is going full-on

Particularly young dogs can put turbo very fast in play sessions. They cannot be mastered, and after exercise, they are more agitated than before. If your dog does this, make sure that the training is short. Two or three minutes to throw and bring is enough. The important thing is to concentrate on bringing the toy and not run as fast and far as possible. Train him not to run until you tell him to. So the game will be more controlled.

Is the throw-and-bring game suitable for all dogs?

In general, the game is suitable for all breeds of dogs. The common fun reinforces the bond and the physical form. The important thing is that it does not degenerate into a wild and exhausting game in which the dog travels great distances. For older or sick dogs, a quieter version is better. Thus, the object is only a few meters away, and the important thing is the concentration work. In addition, you can combine it with search games. If your dog finds the object at home or in the garden, tell him to bring it to you with a «bring». Here are some tips on how to teach a dog to bring the ball:

  • Puppies and young dogs: with young dogs, practice only two or three minutes and increase the playing time gradually. It is better to play five times for two minutes a day than once for ten minutes.
  • Dogs without interest: practice with the bag for snacks. However, if your friend is still not interested in the game after a few weeks, accept it. Spitz breeds tend to be less eager to throw and bring.
  • Classic collecting breeds: the name says it all. For these breeds, such as labradors or golden retrievers, bringing prey is their natural mission. These dogs were bred to bring the birds to the hunter.
  • Heavy dogs with osteoarthritis: for these hairy, exhausting races, many stops or jumps are forbidden. If you want to play with them to throw and bring, do it on a small radio or combine it with search games. If you have doubts about how to teach your dog to bring the ball, you can also ask the vet.

Ema Clark

Dog Trainer and Writer Since 2016. Over 17 years of experience working with all breeds and ages of dogs, using a variety of training techniques.
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