At what age do dogs learn to catch?
Knowing what might be the right time for your puff to learn catching is essential. It would help if you did not start teaching your dog to catch very early. A pup with age 10 weeks or younger can't spot things that easily.
Preferably after 10 weeks or so, you can participate in games that involve spotting treats and later fetching them. Once you find them good at this stuff, you can start to train your dog for catching. Ideally, the training can be withdrawn at the age of 16 weeks or so.
Why my dog can’t catch a treat?
Before we try to find the answer, the very first thing we should consider is that all dog breeds do not excel when it comes to catching something. The brachycephalic dogs with short heads and noses find it way more challenging to catch than other breeds. Thus, breeds such as pugs, boxers, bulldogs, Pekingese, and Boston terrier will require a lot of motivation when it comes to catching.
Also, as it goes without saying, a dog with mobility and visionary complications can't participate in catching activities. Even slight arthritis can make catching difficult for your furry friend. Therefore, if you have been trying to teach your dog to catch for quite some time now and things do not work well, seeing your vet might be the best option.
How to teach my dog to catch treats?
If your dog cannot catch the toys, you toss there might be several factors associated with it. The first thing can be that he is confused about what to do as he does not recognize the treat. Secondly, it can be a lack of motivation too. Also, the reaction can be associated with a past memory where your little puff got hurt as the toy got tossed on his face.
You actually need to put in some effort to set the stage before starting the catching sessions with your dog.
Let's start with recognizing
Grabbing a treat or an object out of nowhere may confuse your pup in the very first place. So, before you start tossing something for your dog to catch, offer enough exposure to the treat.
Also, it's essential to remember catching does not have to be natural for your puppy. What comes as natural to him are sitting, focusing on things, running, jumping, biting. Now, as he can do all of these activities naturally, it's your job to train him to do these things in harmony to catch an object.You will have to modify your dog's natural motion behaviours by assigning a name to the motion. Also, encouraging him to do it on demand is a great option.
Teaching your dog to retrieve treats as you throw them away is the third phase of learning catching tricks. Usually, if your puppy sits and stares at most of the activities you pursue around him, then making him used to fetching things is essential.
As you have already helped your dog recognize treats, it's time to participate in activities where you will throw that treat, and he will fetch it. Also, while he indulges himself in fetching, verbal encouragement is necessary. And, once he brings the treat back as per your command, don't forget to show some affection towards him. Keep practicing this until fetching things comes naturally to your pup.
Add Extra quaint of motivation
For 15 to 16 weeks or whatever time you spend with your puppy, nobody knows him better than you do. Thus, it won't be impossible for you to pick the right motivation for him. If your dog is not even moving an inch to fetch or catch the treats you are throwing, the particular thing probably does not attract him anymore.
Find out what he likes the most among the treats that he is playing with. You can consider throwing some cookies for him to fetch. Food is something that itself works like a treat; thus, you can consider it as the best motivation for your dog.
Ensure the treat doesn't hurt
A mishap right at the moment we start something does not help any of us, and this is true to our four-legged friends too. Your pup might not indulge in any activity if the treat you are using hurts him as soon as he goes for the catch.Please don’t use a tennis ball or baseball as it can hurt him on the face. The heard course surrounding the surface of the baseball can damage the enamel. In fact, chipped teeth are very common among dogs. Therefore, even if he does not show any resistance while catching, you may not want his teeth to get damaged no matter what object you toss.
That's why always choose something softer and won't hurt him on his face. Soft toys are very good options to start with. Also, if you insist on using balls, then the cheap racquetballs can be other options too.
To catch 100% of the time is impossible even for human beings, although we can use our hands to catch. Whereas our canine friends use their teeth, things are trickier for them. Thus, initially, if your pup can catch only 10% of what you are tossing for him, it proves that he is making progress. Also, remember your dog needs a lot of appreciation as soon as he catches it successfully. Make sure you don't go hard on him. Show him enough affection even if he fails sometimes.
Another important thing you must keep in mind while conducting the training sessions is the surface where you are practicing. Try to use your garden area or backyard to have these catching sessions. As jumping on hard surfaces at regular intervals may hurt the puppy's paws.