Teaching your German Shepherd to play fetch is something that can be difficult at first and is something that many people struggle to do. This post will show you how to teach your German Shepherd to play fetch in an efficient manner.
The method will involve three stages designed to break the process down into smaller steps that are easier to do. The first stage will involve teaching it not to drop the toy. The second will involve teaching it to give you the toy. In the third stage, you’ll teach it to go and get the toy when you throw it.
If you would rather simply see how it is done then watch the video below towards the middle of this post.
The first stage will be to teach your German Shepherd to Hold the toy in its mouth.
To do this do as follows:
- Get your German Shepherd in front of you with some treats that it likes and a toy
- Reward your German Shepherd for showing an interest in the toy. The interest can be anything from looking at the toy to mouthing the toy.
- Gradually increase the level of interest that you require from your German Shepherd to get the treat. The goal is to get it to mouth the toy when you show it the toy.
- Once you’re able to get it to mouth the toy start to introduce the command “take it” and start to introduce new objects.
- Now start to require your German Shepherd to actually hold the toy in its mouth. Start by rewarding it for holding the toy for a tenth of a second and then gradually require more and more time. Be careful not to make a large jump in the amount of time that you require from it you don’t want it to fail.
- Now start moving the object closer to the floor and eventually actually drop it on the floor. Continue to say “take it” and reward it for holding the toy.
The next stage will be to teach your German Shepherd to give you the toy. This stage is important because it’s a common problem to be able to get a dog to get the toy but not to be able to get it to give it to you.
To do this do as follows:
- Get some treats and a toy that it likes and get your German Shepherd in front of you
- Get your German Shepherd to take the toy out of your hands or off the floor when you say “take it” and reward it when it lets go of the object after you say “give”. You might need to encourage it to give you the toy by holding out your hand or a treat. You’ll probably need to be patient on this step.
- Repeat the above until you’re able to get it to let go of the toy straight away when you say “give”. Make sure not to say give as soon as it picks the toy up otherwise it will forget to hold the toy.
- Repeat but now only reward it for giving you the toy in your hand.
Now that you can get your German Shepherd to give you the toy you can start to add distance.
You can do it as follows:
- Get a toy and some treats that it likes
- Drop the toy on the floor and say “take it” then quickly take some steps back and say “give” so that it has to take a few steps to come and give it to you. Remember to reward it for doing it.
- Repeat the above and gradually increase the distance that it needs to go to give you the toy.
- Now, instead of moving yourself, you’ll make the dog fetch the toy. Do this by initially throwing the toy a short distance and saying “fetch” then reward it for getting the toy and giving it back to you.
- Repeat the above gradually increasing the distance it needs to go to get the toy.
- Once it gets good at it introduce new objects for it to fetch.
You can watch the video below to see how it is done
Why to teach your German Shepherd to play fetch
There are a number of benefits to teaching your German Shepherd to play fetch and I will mention a number of them below.
German Shepherds are a breed that were bred to work alongside humans daily doing very energy intensive tasks like herding sheep. This means that they require a lot of exercise to be properly stimulated. You’ll often find that a one hour walk isn’t enough for it but thankfully fetch can help you out here. Since fetch involves your German Shepherd doing a lot of sprinting without much rest in between it means that it will wear it out quickly.
Rewarding for you
It’s not easy to teach your German Shepherd to play fetch. The benefit here is that it will be a very rewarding feeling once you have taught it to do it and you’ll be very proud of your dog.
Get it to listen to you
It’s also beneficial because by teaching your German Shepherd that listening to you gets it things that it likes it will make it have a positive association with listening to you. This will help you to control it more easily.
Improve its behavior
By being able to give your German Shepherd more exercise you’ll be able to prevent bad behaviors that come with a lack of exercise more easily.
Teach it new things easily
Since fetch is such an efficient way to wear your German Shepherd out it will actually help you to teach it other things. The reason for this is that you’ll be able to play fetch with it first which will wear it out and help it to be more responsive to you.
Things to consider
When you’re teaching your German Shepherd to play fetch there are some things that you should keep in mind that I will mention below.
Teaching your German Shepherd to play fetch will probably be quite difficult to do. If it is then don’t be frustrated since it’s normal for it to be hard. If it is then just take a long-term approach to it and continue to train it to do it over time. Eventually, you’ll be able to get it to do it.
Build up the distractions
The number of distractions that there are around your German Shepherd when you’re trying to train it to play fetch will have a big impact on how easy or hard it is to keep its attention on you. That’s why you should try to limit the number of distractions that there are when you first teach it to your dog.
Start in an easy environment
Since there are a lot less external things going on that can distract your dog at home than there are at a park it would be easiest to start out at home where there isn’t much going on in the environment to distract it.
It’s important to keep it interested
Keeping your German Shepherd’s interest in the training will have a big impact on how easy or hard it is to train it. This means that you should make a big fuss of it when you reward it.
Do it regularly
Even after you have taught your German Shepherd to play fetch it is important to play it with it regularly so that it doesn’t forget to do it and so that it gets more exercise.
The age of your German Shepherd will have an impact on what it’s like to train it. If it’s still young then it will likely be a bit more hyperactive but this can be beneficial as it will be easier to keep it interested in the training if you keep it exciting. You can also give it some exercise before training it so that you can keep its focus for longer.
How to teach my German Shepherd to fetch a frisbee? The method to teach your German Shepherd to play fetch with a frisbee is the same as mentioned above. Just make sure that the toy that you train it with is the frisbee itself.
Why won’t my German Shepherd fetch? If your German Shepherd won’t fetch then it will be necessary for you to teach it to. You can do this by employing the techniques in this post.
Why won’t my German Shepherd bring the ball back? If your German Shepherd won’t bring the ball back then you need to train it to do so. You should train it to do stages 2 and 3 in this post again so that it learns to bring it back to you.
This post contains affiliate links. Germanshepherdsowner may be paid a commission from the companies mentioned in this post. This has no effect on the price you pay and we are very grateful for any support.
Most Recommended For German Shepherds
Best German Shepherd Training Program
Our favorite: The Dunbar Academy Training Program. If you want a happy and obedient German Shepherd, this is one of the best online dog training programs available right now. You can get the first month free using This link
Best Fresh Dog Food
Best German Shepherd Guide
Our favorite: The German Shepherd Handbook (on Amazon) - Shows you all you need to know to keep your GSD happy, healthy and well-behaved.