Best Way to Train Your Dog to Catch

Catch is a great game. It’s fun to play out in the yard or at the park. It’s even better when you are comfortably ensconced on the couch and your dog wants something to do.

Straight Catch

Most dogs take a few days to catch on to catch. When you first throw something at them, they often let it bounce off their heads without any attempt to catch it. Take heart. Your dog will learn how to catch a ball in next to no time.

Train Dog to Catch Best Way to Train Your Dog to Catch

In order to motivate your dog to catch, take a small piece of dog biscuit, tell him “Watch me,” let him see the tidbit, tell him “Catch” and toss the piece of cookie toward him, aiming for his nose. Should he miss, and he probably will, let him find and eat the biscuit. Even praise him as he does. Praising will keep your focus and your dog’s on the fact that the biscuit is not the reward. The real reward, as always, is getting praised for pleasing you.

Keep practicing, a minute or two at a time. As you do, note that you are also practicing good time management. In order to play, your dog must sit when told and respond to “Watch me.” They are both part of the game.

Once your dog attempts to catch the flying biscuit, tell him “Leave it” when he tries to scarf it down after missing. Now he’s got to catch it to eat it. No matter. By now, he’s hooked on the game. Within a week, practicing only a minute or two a day, your dog will be catching the piece of dog biscuit just about every time you toss it, so you are both ready to move on to the next stage.

Ball or Toy Catch

Now replace the biscuit with a favorite ball, small, light squeak toy or little stuffed animal. Get your dog’s attention. Get that “Sit.” Say “Catch!” and toss the toy. (As your training gets more sophis­ticated, you can ask him to “Come” and bring the toy when you play this game. For now, don’t worry about fine points.) Always clap and praise each catch as if it were a big deal. It is to your dog.

Train Dog to Catch 1 Best Way to Train Your Dog to Catch

Bounce Catch

With your dog sitting and watching you, cup the ball in your hand, palm down, then bounce it toward your dog as if you were playing hit the penny with him. Do not bounce the ball so that it hits your ceiling. Try to bounce it so that it is easy for the dog to catch it. Helping him succeed will build his confidence. Failure will make him quit. It spoils the fun. After a while, you may notice that your clever dog will know which way the ball will be coming by noting the position of your hand in advance of the throw. So in playing this version of the game, he’s not only having fun, he’s learning how to concentrate and figure things out, too.

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