Palmer learned to fetch around 13 weeks. It was pretty easy to teach -- he already knew "come", so we'd throw a ball, say "fetch", and when he ran to it, we'd praise with "good boy!". When he picked up the ball, we'd say "come!" and clap our hands or make some other noise to get his attention. When he got back to us, we'd say "drop!" and offer a treat -- he had to drop the ball to eat the treat. Repeat, repeat, repeat, and he'll have it down in no time.
I have a 5 month old who doesn't necessarily retrieve. He will do it with his kong in an effort to have me help get his treat out for him. Lately I've been starting to offer him other treats when he brings back the kong to encourage the retrieving. I'm sure he'll catch on eventually.
most pups will naturally run after somthing when thrown and then pick it up... the hard part is getting them to come back to you with it...they dont want to give up their prize..
what I do with pups is get them inside in a hallway... i get with the puppy at one end and throw the object (i use a paint roller) to the other end... they run and get it and have nowhere else to go but back down the hall ... when they get to me , I do NOT grab the roller... i scoop the pup up in my lap and make a fuss over her then take it and throw it again... about 3 repeats of this is enough for a young pup per day... pretty soon they think this is great stuff.. the deal is they learn that if they bring it back you will throw it again..
later on it becomes more serious work (hunting and field trials)... but if you do this for a few months and dont try and do it ouside they just get in the habit of running back to you with it..there are several components to a retrieve.. go to it, pick it up, dont drop it, bring it back, and give it to me.. right now with the pup, it is just play..
they will also go through a phase when they are teething (about 6 months) when they may not want to pick stuff up because it hurts..
I have gotten our 16 wk. old to fetch & come - but the hard part is to get him to drop the toy once he comes to us. I have at times given him a treat for the good job of fetching, and he will drop it for that ... and I will say 'Drop' when it hits the ground --- so he can remember, but it's hard...he hardly drops it.
I definitely don't want to get into a tug-of-war with him, that's a definitely no-no, but how else? Any suggestions? Besides just a bit more practice every day ?
I have done as Greg suggested--fetching inside in a hallway. Woody does great in the house. He gets the toy, brings it back, and even drops it now. But outside is a different story! How do you make the transition from retrieving in the house, to doing so out in the yard?
I've had two goldens. My first absolutely hated to fetch. She would do it two or three times and then stop. She just wanted to grab the ball and run with it, hoping I would chase her. My new golden is completely opposite. She started fetching at about 9 weeks old and did it consistently. She loves it! It's so funny how dogs of the same breed can be so different in their personalities. To teach my golden to fetch, I just got SUPER excited with her whenever we played. I had no problem getting her to chase the ball but to bring it back she got distracted. So I started going crazy and clapping and yelling in a high pitched voice to get her really excited to come to me. As soon as she came, I would take the ball out of her mouth and then praise and pet her again very excitedly. After a while she couldn't resist bringing the ball back!
Our first Golden wouldn't even look at a ball.He would retrieve dead birds and squirrels,a practice dummy,paper targets after we finished shooting and bottle rockets.Nothing else.We tried all kinds of balls,Frisbees and sticks.The bottle rockets were the worst.He would burn the wiskers off off his face.