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Do Goldendoodles play fetch?

Whether you have a Goldendoodle or are considering bringing one into your pack, you may be wondering, “Do Goldendoodles play fetch?” The short answer is, “Fetch yeah!”

As the mom of one ball-obsessed-fetch-playing-Goldendoodle dog and a research hound searching out the good news about Doodle dogs, I’ve discovered that, yes, most Goldendoodles love playing fetch.

In fact, I like to say that fetch is the love language for many Goldendoodles.

There is no better way to know just how much you’re loved than when your Goldendoodle drops his or her most prized possession—a fetch ball—at your feet.

Goldendoodle playing fetch with a Breathe-Right ball in mouth, photo

But why do most Goldendoodles enjoy fetch?

Let’s dive into why #ballislife is true for many Goldendoodles. Then get tips on how to teach your dog to fetch, which balls are best for fetch, and how to play six variations of fetch.

Why do Goldendoodles like to play fetch?

First, what is it that makes fetch so fun for Goldendoodles, anyway? Let’s take a look at the Goldendoodle’s family history, doggie social behaviors, and canine instincts that may contribute to why most Goldendoodles like to play fetch.

1. The Goldendoodle’s parent breeds are natural retrievers.

Our first clue behind the Goldendoodle breed’s obsession with fetch comes from the parent breeds. Goldendoodles are a hybrid of two athletic dog breeds—the Golden Retriever and the Poodle.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Poodles are natural athletes and Golden Retrievers are classified as a “Sporting” dog. Also, according to the AKC, both Poodle and Golden Retriever breeds tend to have a natural drive to retrieve. The AKC goes on to describe the Golden Retriever breed this way, “…for a breed built to retrieve water fowl, fetching is a natural past time.”

Another contributing factor stemming from the Poodle and Golden Retriever lineage is energy level. Both Poodles and Golden Retrievers are active, energetic dogs. So many Goldendoodles have an energy level and enthusiasm for playing and for retrieving.

If you’re wondering about how much exuberance for life Goldendoodles have, check out my article on Goldendoodle energy level for 15 tips and insights.

2. Social behaviors lend themselves to playing fetch.

Secondly, Goldendoodles tend to be social dogs and are eager to please you. (This is another trait that stems from the Golden Retriever parent breed, who is described as a playful and eager to please family companion.)

But what’s this have to do with fetch?

If your Goldendoodle wants to please you and you enjoy fetch, it’s likely that he or she will pick up on your excitement for the game and try it because you like it.

After all, any game where your dog gets your undivided attention and praise is pure happiness for him or her.

3. Many (but not all) dogs have a natural drive to retrieve or chase.

Thirdly, and on a much broader scale, we can look at natural behaviors of dogs. Dogs, are dogs after all. And many dogs have a natural instinct to chase, which means fetch is a way to channel that natural drive.

Interestingly, according to an article in Science.org (Wolf Puppies Stun Scientists by Playing Fetch), some young wolves (in a small study) picked up on human social cues to bring a ball back. With no training at all, some of the wolf pups retrieved a ball and returned it to the strangers.

Why are some Goldendoodles not interested in fetch?

Even with the three behaviors outlined above, some Goldendoodles seem more ball-obsessed than others. Why is this?

Here’s what I’ve found about why some Goldendoodles are more ball crazy than others:

  1. Dogs have personal preferences, too. Just like us hoomans, the activities dogs enjoy are based on a personal preference. For example, some of us humans love sports and some of us don’t. Some dogs love to retrieve and some don’t. Essentially, every dog is an individual.

2. Learning begins early. Secondly, a dog’s interest in playing fetch may depend on puppyhood playtime activities. If a dog was not introduced to fetch as a puppy, he or she may be less interested in playing fetch throughout life.

So, if you’d like your Goldendoodle to enjoy games of fetch, what can you do to encourage the behavior? As with anything you want your dog to enjoy, make sure you keep it positive, positive, positive.

How to teach a dog to play fetch

So, you’re ready to bond with your dog by playing fetch games. How do you start? What will you need? Here’s what I’ve learned about fetch. Maybe it will help you, too.

Also, no matter where your dog falls on the “natural retrieving” scale, fetch is a game that can be taught with lots of positive reinforcement, patience, and maybe a treat or two.

What you’ll need

  • Ball, frisbee, or toss toy. Make sure the fetch toy is not too heavy or hard so it doesn’t hurt your dog’s teeth. Also, if you’re playing in a place like a backyard where there is dirt or sand, it’s best not to use a ball with fibers (like a tennis ball) since it will collect dirt and sand. Over time, a “gritty ball” will wear your dog’s teeth down.
  • Favorite treat or reward
  • A fenced in play area or yard
  • Dog water bowl filled with fresh water
  • You and your dog

Steps for fetch

  1. Choose a favorite ball that your doggo likes and gently toss it just out of your dog’s reach while saying “fetch” excitedly and gesturing to the toy. (Remember, dogs respond to gestural commands and not just verbal commands.) When your dog goes for it, excitedly say, “Good dog” or other happy phrases.
  2. When your dog brings the ball back, give a small treat and celebrate like you’ve both won the lottery.
  3. Repeat this a few times increasing the distance a bit at a time. Your dog will catch on.

If you play fetch with your puppy and he or she senses how much fun you are having, chances are your furry pal will want to repeat the game.

Finally, choose a location that has low distractions to give your dog the best chance for success.

My Goldendoodle loves to play in our backyard so much so that she’s worn a path in the grass. With so many fetch games on rainy days over the years, I came up with 15 hacks for muddy dog paws as well as my favorite methods for how to bathe a Goldendoodle.

6 variations of fetch

Finally, you and your ball-loving dog may enjoy trying out some versions of fetch. My Goldendoodle and I came up with six variations.

While every dog is unique, maybe some of these ideas will inspire you to create your own versions of fetch to play with your pupper. Of course, as with any activity, always ask your veterinarian if you’re unsure about which games are best for your dog’s age and ability.

1. Fast Fetch

What you need: Two dog-safe fetch balls.

How to play: Ask your dog to “sit,” throw the ball, and give the fetch command. As soon as your dog comes running back to you with the ball in the mouth, throw the second ball. Many dogs will naturally drop the first ball and run for the next one. This is a rousing, non-stop action version of fetch.

2. Fetch Around the Clock – Vary the direction

What you need: 1 ball, your dog, you

How to play: Throwing and retrieving the ball in the same direction can get monotonous. To switch things up, try varying the direction you throw the ball. I like to imagine the hands of a clock. First I’ll throw forward (to the 12 o’clock position), then I pivot and throw to the 3:00 position, and so on until I’ve thrown the ball and my dog has retrieved it from all different directions.

Medium Goldendoodle running to fetch a ball, photo

3. Grounder Fetch – Vary the height

What you need: 1 bouncy ball, your dog, you

How to play: Does your dog love to chase after balls or toys? This is a natural canine instinct. By playing “grounder fetch,” you’re channeling your dog’s natural instinct to chase into a fun fetch game.

To play this game, rather than throwing the ball in an arch high into the sky, throw the ball low and to the ground so that it bounces and “hops” along the ground. Your dog will have fun chasing the ball and anticipating which direction it will go.

4. One-Two-Three BOUNCE! Fetch

What you need: 1 bouncy ball, your dog, you

How to play: Ask your dog to sit. While your dog is sitting, say “1, 2, 3” and dramatically raise and lower like your arm as if your going to bounce the ball on the ground. After the word “three,” say “bounce!” and drop the ball. Your dog’s eyes most likely have been intently following your hand which is holding the ball. The word “bounce” is your dog’s cue to retrieve the ball that bounces on the ground.

5. Frisbee Fetch – Vary the object

What you need: dog-friendly frisbee, your dog, you

How to play: Rather than using a dog-friendly ball, switch things up and try a dog-friendly frisbee instead. (A dog-friendly frisbee is flexible and won’t hurt a dog’s mouth.)

6. Indoor Fetch

If weather keeps you inside, it’s still possible to play fetch. Simply find a rug or carpet where your dog can get traction and not slip when pursuing the ball. Then throw the ball short distances or even roll the ball on the ground.

What toys are the best for playing fetch with your dog?

Fetch is a great way for many dogs to get daily exercise and bond with you, but with so many dog balls and fetch toys available, which are the best?

Sadly, I learned the hard way that tennis balls don’t make the best fetch toy because they can wear down a dog’s teeth. If the fuzz on a tennis ball accumulates dirt, sand, or grit, it’s abrasive to a dog’s teeth, especially if a dog likes to gnaw on the ball. So what are some alternatives?

The best way to choose a fetch toy is to ask your veterinarian for guidelines on what size, material, and quality are best for your dog. Veterinary Partner’s article on safe toys for puppies offers some general guidelines.

One of our favorite toys for Goldendoodles is the Chuck-It breathe right ball. It’s durable, soft, lighweight, and made of a flexible material that doesn’t collect dirt or debris. Also, it comes in a variety of sizes so you can choose the size appropriate for the size of your dog.

Red Goldendoodle with fetch ball called a Chuck it breathe right ball in her mouth, photo

Always supervise your dog when he or she is playing with a toy of any kind. Our motto at Happy-Go-Doodle®? Safety first and happiness will follow!

If your dog enjoys fetch, he or she may also enjoy…

Finally, if your dog enjoys fetch, he or she may also enjoy other games and activities that you can play together. Here are a few ideastarters:

  • Some of our favorite games to play with dogs are based on classic childhood games that we’ve given dog friendly twists.
  • Beyond physical games, nose work games for dogs are fun canine enrichment activities that stimulate a dog’s mind and satisfy natural curiosity.
  • While not exactly a game, going for a walk is a classic dog-friendly activity. If you and your dog love walks, you could mix things up and try a dog sniffari walk instead. It’s “scentsational” for our puppers! 😉

Thanks for stopping by Happy-Go-Doodle®. We hope you’re inspired to enjoy many endless moments together with your dog. No matter whether your Goldendoodle is absolutely ball obsessed or really couldn’t care less, every moment you spend with a Doodle is “Golden.”

Does your Goldendoodle play fetch?

Please comment below. We’d love to hear!

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