The “Fetch, Retrieve, Drop!” command

“Fetch”; “Retrieve”; “Drop”: Some breeds are more inclined to retrieve objects while others find this trick less appealing, although it is a perfect way to exercise your dog! If your dog likes water, practise by the sea or a pond. Check that the toy is safe for your dog. Once your dog has learnt this sequence, you can then teach him to retrieve different objects, distinguishing them by name. We will discuss this topic shortly.

Use one word only, and always the same word, to give your dog a command. Say your dog’s name before giving the command. For example: “Cheeky, fetch!”; “Cheeky, retrieve!”; “Cheeky, drop!” Your dog will therefore soon make a connection between the sound and the action to be performed. Keep the sessions short, no longer than ten minutes, and pleasant for your dog. If you think your dog is becoming tired or losing concentration, do not insist or get cross, but simply change activity and start again later. Reward your dog with a treat at the exact moment he performs the desired action. As your dog learns the trick, you can give him a pat and verbal praise instead of the treat! For example: “That’s right!” or “Good dog!”

  1. Stand in front of your dog with his favourite toy in your hand, then throw it.
  2. When he starts to run, say “Fetch!”, then shower him with praise when he achieves his goal and picks up the toy.
  3. After he has picked up the toy, say “Retrieve!” and praise him profusely when he turns to come back to you. If he starts to wander off or puts the toy down, go back to the throwing step so that he gradually understands the sequence.
  4. When he comes towards you with the toy in his mouth, hold out your hand under his jaw and say “Drop!” in a sharp but non-aggressive tone. Your dog may let go of the toy naturally, but if not, offer him a treat or another toy so that he drops the first toy. When he does this, praise him! Once he understands the trick, you no longer need to swap the toy for a treat or another object, but continue to praise him by stroking and patting. Remember, your dog mustn’t feel as though he has lost something when he gives you his toy, so it is essential to reward him in return!

Dog trainer: Karina Laproye. Specialising in dog casting, coaching and training, the DogActing® firm provides film, television, advertising, photography and events professionals with its specialty dog services. For more information, visit

Photo credits: Denis Debadier, dog and pet photographer. For more information, visit

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