Tuesday, August 28, 2012

See Milton run. See Milton fetch.

Growing up, my dog never fetched.  He dashed, grabbed, and ran.  He did not want to share his toy or ball with anyone.  When this occurs, your game of fetch is dead before it even begins.  Learning from my dog's poor example, we have been hard at work teaching the Milt to fetch.  Our goldendoodle has an abundance of energy, so we need the game to last for longer than just a few rounds.

In the fetch training, Jeff originally took charge and declared Milton's tennis balls strictly off limits unless we were in practice mode.  I gradually became more involved practicing with the Milt, and I can proudly say that I am now a major player in this endeavor.  So, how do we teach this centuries' old game?

Well, after we bought Milton, Jeff would oftentimes return home late from work with a new treat for our boy.  One night he showed up with a "clicker."  Thankfully, it was only a $1.49 purchase.

A clicker allows you to "click" at the exact moment your dog does something right, so he knows what he has done well.  It really has been integral in our training.  First, we toss the tennis ball for Milt and yell, "Bring it!"  Why not, "Fetch!"?  For some odd reason I blanked on that word at the time.  Milton brings the ball back, and I automatically click the clicker and say, "Release.  Good bring."  It is important to give specific praise, "Good bring," instead of just, "Good boy," because he will begin to associate these exact words with fetch.

Ball hoarding

Next, I usually follow up the verbal praise with some form of treat, like a Milk-Bone or pieces of food if we plan to play for a while.  A word of caution is to not give your dog a treat on each and every return, or he will grow too conditioned to working for rewards.  Also, we always try to leave the game on a high note before Milton becomes bored, so he does not run off with the ball and us in fast pursuit.  Likewise, we do not leave his fetch toys in his toy box because we want them to be more exciting whenever he sees them.

Recently we discovered a creek within walking distance of our apartment that is ideal for some splashing and of course, fetch practice.

Milton is progressing.  As you can see, he didn't really want to part with the ball in the above video.  He is not spot on just yet, but that is okay with us.  We don't pressure the Milt; it's a dog's life.


  1. So do you really like the clicker training or just "kinda" like the clicker training? I've never used it on any dog in the past and there have been maaaaaany. Thanks!

  2. My husband and I really do think the clicker is beneficial. Milton easily recognizes the clicker, and it gets him excited that we are about to play. It times rewards perfectly as well, so that he knows instantaneously what he did right. When we hand him a treat, the desired activity may already be completed, so it is difficult to associate the two together. Basically, I highly recommend a clicker, especially at the price of $1.50! I hope this was helpful information.