“I’d love to play but he never brings it back.”
“How can do I teach him to retrieve, he’ll chase but then that’s it.”
I frequently hear complaints about dogs having no concept of a retrieve. Now, there are TONS of ways to teach a retrieve. Back chaining a take/hold using food rewards and a clicker or using a high value treat as reward for learning a “give” and morphing that behavior into a retrieve. However, one of my favorite methods uses tugs and tugging to build a retrieve.
This video shows the foundations to building the behavior. What it doesn’t go into (for time sake) is putting a word to the behavior once they are consistently performing it and how to start generalizing the behavior. To put a word to it, you simply pick a word you want to use to mean retrieve and start using it as the pup is getting the toy, and then start saying it before he is sent to get the toy. To start generalizing, I start using other toys you can tug with (squeaky toy, a frisbee, a different tug). If he’s doing well with retrieving other toys you can tug with you can start using things not as easy to tug with, a bone, a ball, a dumbbells, etc. and then presenting the tug to play OR you can introduce food rewards.
So, without further ado… How to train your dog to retrieve using tugging….