How to train a border collie puppy to fetch

Written by stephanie ellen
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The border collie consistently places in the No. 1 spot on "Top Ten" lists for most intelligent dog. However, most intelligent doesn't necessarily mean easy to train. To teach your border collie how to perform a task, you need to show them how to do the task, not train them in the traditional sense. Shown in the right way, a border collie will learn to fetch a ball in five repetitions or less. They may even get it on the first try--if you show them the right way.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Ball
  • A friend
  • Your dog

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  1. 1

    Hold your border collie by his collar.

  2. 2

    Throw the ball as far as you can. Instruct your friend (not your dog) to fetch the ball by yelling, "Fetch, (friend's name)!"

  3. 3

    Your friend should run after the ball. When he gets to the ball, have him hold the ball up in the air momentarily so your dog can see that he has the ball. Note that at this point your dog's herding instinct will most likely kick in, and she will be pulling and tugging to run off and "herd" the escaping friend. Hold the collar tightly and do not let go. Important: do not chastise your dog or ask them to keep quiet--you want them to be excited at this point.

  4. 4

    Yell "bring me the ball!"

  5. 5

    After your friend returns with the ball, let your dog's collar go. Grab the ball from your friend, and yell, excitedly "Yes! (Friend's name) got the ball." Hold the ball in the air and pat your friend on the back. Tell him what a good boy he is.

  6. 6

    Repeat Steps 1 through 5.

  7. 7

    Repeat Steps 1 through 5, but this time, send your border collie after the ball, not your friend. Make sure you use the same phrases and language.

Tips and warnings

  • If your dog responds well to treats, you can give your friend a treat (make sure your dog sees this happening) when he fetches the ball. When your border collie successfully completes the task, give him a treat.
  • Watch your hands when you show your border collie to fetch. You want them to respond the word "fetch," not your hand waving in the air or a throwing motion with your arm. If you show your dog the wrong cue, then next time they will be waiting patiently for an arm wave while happily ignoring your pleas of "fetch."

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