There are some dogs who don’t care about fetch, some who play the game but don’t know how to return, and some who were born for the game!
Unless your dog is made for the game of fetch, it’s most likely you’ll need to teach them how to do it.
Playing this fun game is a very enjoyable way to exercise and mentally stimulate your pup!
You might be wondering how long should I play fetch with my dog?
Depending on their age, breed, and health, the amount of time you should allow for exercising your dog with a game of fetch can vary.
We talk about why you should play fetch with your dog, how long to do it, and a step-by-step guide to teaching them how to play fetch!
Why You Should Play Fetch with Your Dog
The game of fetch is rewarding for a dog. It lets them show off their athleticism, appease their instincts, and burn some energy.
This enjoyable form of exercise helps them avoid health issues in the long run, such as obesity. It also helps them be more mellow and well behaved at home.
If you’re lucky, your dog plays fetch naturally, but few dogs intrinsically understand the concept of retrieving.
Some dogs will chase after the toy but then won’t bring it back, while others simply look at you with a confused expression.
But the game of fetch can be learned with enough patience and the right toys and treats.
It’s worth it to train your furry friend to play this game to keep them limber while at the same time reducing poor behavior like licking, barking, digging, and more.
How Long You Should Play Fetch with Your Dog
The recommended amount of time spent on playing fetch is at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours. This all depends on breed, health, and most of all, their age.
It might be hard for dogs to sense they are over-exerting themselves, so as owners we must step in and prevent this from happening.
Since playing fetch is a form of exercise, here’s how much time you can spend playing fetch with them.
Take note that every dog is different, and you may have to talk to your vet about this if you need further advice.
Puppies love to race around the house, jumping into a pile of clothes or pillows, and always enjoy grabbing your attention.
Since they generally have more energy than other dogs, they require more exercise but in shorter bursts.
Since they are constantly growing, your puppy needs several short sessions of fetch throughout the day.
Try dividing a total of 30 minutes of fetch into 3 to 4 sessions throughout the day. It’s safer than playing one game of fetch for two hours straight since it can be too hard on their developing body.
Once your dog is all grown up, a more important factor you may need to consider is their breed since it heavily influences their level of physical activity needs.
High-energy breeds like Border Collies and Belgian Malinois require more games of fetch, about an hour or two, than low-energy breeds like Bulldogs and Basset Hounds who only need 30 minutes of fetch a day.
Your adult dog’s health is also an important indicator. If they have a medical condition, maybe a game of fetch is not the appropriate exercise routine.
Ask your vet for a routine that will help them stay healthy without causing discomfort.
Your senior dog may not be able to run as far as they used to, and you might need to restrict their movement. Despite this, they still need proper exercise.
Talk with your vet to see if playing fetch with your senior dog is still a good option, and how long you should do it.
Exercise provides all dogs with mental stimulation and keeps them active, which can help prolong their lives and reduce the risk of obesity.
How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch
Fetch is a great way to get your dog some quality exercise that will stave off health and behavioral problems. Before teaching them, make sure that they know the “come” command.
Here’s how you can teach your dog to play the game of fetch.
1. Introduce the Toy
Some are even happier with a plain old stick. Experiment with different types to know which one your pup likes best.
Once you have picked out a good toy, introduce it to your dog while they are near you, so they get excited. As your dog gets close to it, click, praise, and give a treat.
If they touch their nose to the toy, click, praise heavily, and give treats. Keep doing it until they get all hyped up.
2. Move the Toy Around
Start moving the fetch toy around so they have to move to get it. Do this by holding the toy at arm’s length and other positions to encourage them to touch it.
Don’t throw it yet or move very far! Make sure to click, treat, and praise every time they touch the toy.
3. Let them Grab the Toy
At this stage, you’ll only reward your dog when they grab the toy with their mouth. This will take the most time, but the trick is to watch your dog’s behavior and reward when it starts to look like the behavior you want.
Place the toy on the floor and if they move from touching their nose to the toy and begin using their mouth, it’s time to click, praise, and treat.
Each time they get a little closer to biting the toy, continue to reward. If and when they pick up the toy with their mouth, act like it’s the best thing you’ve ever seen.
4. Indoor Fetch
Once your dog knows they will be rewarded when they place the toy in their mouth, it’s time to toss the toy a few feet away from you.
Continue the click, treat, and praise method when they pick the toy up.
Once they get this, encourage them to bring the toy back to you. When they return the toy, reward them again.
Make your throws farther and farther for them to understand the game of fetch.
5. Take the Game Outside
It’s time to head out to make things more fun and challenging. This time, your dog will be exposed to many distractions during the game, so begin in a fenced space.
If your dog isn’t yet good at going off-leash, learn how to train them, and be safe when off-leash.
Start playing fetch as you would at home, tossing the toy farther and farther, and rewarding them for bringing back the toy to you.
Fetch with Fido!
Playing fetch with your dog is a great way to keep them happy and healthy.
Aside from the fun that both of you get out of it, your dog also gets to avoid health problems in the future and avoid destructive behavior such as licking, digging, and more.
Many aspects determine how long you should spend playing a game of fetch with your dog, one of which is age.
In general, puppies need several short play sessions, while adult and senior dogs need a certain amount of exercise based on their health and breed.