So I'd like to think I have one of the smartest dogs alive. Mason is a PRO at fetching, but he's always been afraid of frisbees. The other day I spent 2 minutes throwing a frisbee to my mom and making it look like it was the coolest thing ever while her dog ran around and acted like he wanted the frisbee (he didn't), and Mason instantly started going after it. After a few minutes of just going up to where it landed and pawing at it, he started catching it. In total, it took under 10 minutes for him to start catching the frisbee. I took him out today and practiced--he's not doing as well as he did that first time, but I'm sure it will take some time for him to get used to jumping as high as he did every time for it. Here's a video:
I was going to just write up some advice on how to teach your dog fetch, because had he not been a SUPER longtime pro at catching a tennis ball and returning it, it would have made that endeavor a LOT more difficult.
Mason learned how to play fetch at a relatively young age. Honestly those super baby days of his life kinda blur together to me now, but I remember spending a long time throwing a ball and having to go get it, and him refusing to give it to me.
The ball I used to generate his initial interest in going and getting the ball (because why would he? BORING!) Was a 2 dollar Kong squeaker tennis ball. Like most dogs/puppies, Mason is nuts about squeaky things, so he was all over it (before it got destroyed by a dog at the dog park in under a minute one day, then we moved to normal balls, which he had laying around at home and chewed on). Also rolling around a normal tennis ball to a puppy gets them chasing it short distances, and builds up interest.
To get him to return and drop--well, it sounds like a simple and basic concept, but honestly I used cheese. I was all about using cheese when he was little to get calcium to his ears so they would stand up, and now they form a little triangle sometimes as you see in that video. He LOVESSSSSSSS cheese, and I would just treat him every time he'd go get the ball, which would make him run back WITH the ball for the cheese, and then I'd say drop it when he dropped the ball for the cheese. Tons of practice and patience later and he was a pro. You basically have to find your dogs one vice--the food he will go NUTS over, and use it against him repeatedly.
Mason is a fetch FANATIC now, and I really do believe it gives him a job to do and he is more satisfied after a good round of it.
Here are some photos from the day he learned how to catch a frisbee, where he puts that video to shame.
He busted those 2 frisbees in the photos, by the way. They were hard plastic normal frisbees, both alleged for dogs but obviously not able to withstand any sort of catching. I went to check out the Kong frisbee, but at 15 bucks my cheap ass was like HELL no. So I checked out Petco's cheap frisbees and they are sort of soft and flexible plastic, and so far no busting and they seem like they'll hold up a long time and be cheap to replace. (3 bucks for a big one, 2 bucks for a mini one).