How to Get a Spaniel to Fetch

Those who are proud owners of a spaniel will explain to you that getting one of these fine animals to fetch is like taking a bicycle out for a spin after its grown cobwebs in the shed. In a few moments, those two wheels simply become an extension of your body.

It takes some work. Like when pop removed the training wheels from the bike for the first time, things were shaky. But it didn’t take long before you were racing down the street with your buddies.

What’s it mean?

When you have a spaniel that is boiling-over with a retrieving instinct, you basically have a living machine that likes to put stuff in into its snout, carry it around proudly and deposit the catch to a place it calls its own.

With a little direction, that favorite place can easily be turned into your feet. Make sure – as with all training exercises – the experience is pleasant. No need to punish the pup or force them to do something they don’t want to do at the moment.

You’re going to need to get your hands on a puppy training dummy, not that guy on your bowling team that loves the gutter. We’re talking about something that’s small enough to fit into the mutt’s mouth. Anything too big like that beer-guzzling buddy Ted is counterproductive.

Limited Resources

Purchasing a bushel-basket of dummies is a bad idea, too. You want to limit the choice to one device at the beginning for the pup.

One of the best places to begin the process is right in your own house. Start with a long hallway. The dog takes one end, you take the other.

Time for the baby to get the lay of the land – or in this case – the dummy. Let ‘em sniff it, bite it, but not run away with it. Grasp its collar as it becomes familiar with the object.

Grab a seat on the carpet about 4-yards from the end that’s been blocked-off. Tease the little friend by doing things like circle the dog’s snout; lightly hammer the floor with the device. Just when the poor thing is about to snatch it, pull it away from the dog.

Now that the canine is jonesing for the dummy, get their attention and toss it toward the blocked part of the hallway. When you pitch the unit, say the dog’s name. That will be the animal’s cue to retrieve.

Five-to-one odds, that spaniel is going to chase the dummy. As it gets taken in the dog’s mouth, call him over to you in a non-threatening way. No yelling. A simple “come here” should suffice.

Back to You

At first, the little buddy will do as it’s told. Here’s where it gets tricky. Since the pup has nowhere to go – you’ve limited its choices – just keep your butt planted on the floor. They’ll get it. The animal will return to you.

Take these next points to heart:

  • Do not snatch the dummy from the dog as soon as it is retrieved and returned. Latch onto its collar and lavish praise while the device is still in the puppy’s mouth. You want this impressionable baby to think it’s – excuse the term – the cat’s meow.
  • Don’t overdo the sessions. Three-to-four retrieves are enough to start. Guaranteed that after a few shots, the pup is going to lose focus and just lay there with his new piece of property. Lay down next to the canine and the two of you take a bonding break.


This is not a game. Do not play tug o’ war. Blow a little air into the animal’s face. They’ll release it. That’s when you remove it from their beak. And have some treats and praise for the tiny smartie.

Repeat the exercise every day and you’ll soon be graduating to fetching 102.

Remember. This is fun. It should be for the dog. It should be for you. If either party isn’t in the mood, stop it and call Ted. It’s always fun to watch him roll those balls down the gutter.

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