Playing fetch can be a terrific bonding exercise for dogs and their owners. Before the fun can begin, however, you must first teach your puppy how to fetch. Most dogs will run after a moving object, but even retriever breeds need to be taught how to bring it back and place it in the owner's hand. Without training, your dog will get the ball -- then spend an hour playing keep-away and chase. Although the nine-to-12 week age range is ideal for beginning training, it is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.
Put a handful of small treats in your pocket for easy accessibility.
Hold your puppy in one hand and the ball in the other hand. Make sure the puppy sees the ball. If the puppy tries to bite or play with the ball, encourage it.
Keep hold of the puppy, but let go of the ball. The puppy will likely begin squirming and trying to get the ball, so keep encouraging it.
Toss the ball gently a few feet and keep hold of the puppy, who will likely be ready to burst out of your grasp by now.
Let go of the puppy and praise it for running after the ball. Pretend to get excited when it picks the ball up in its mouth.
Call your puppy, making light, encouraging noises. If it does not return to you, turn your back and walk away. The puppy will most likely run after you, hopefully with the ball in its mouth.
Show the puppy a treat when it comes back to you with the ball in its mouth. It will most likely drop the ball in favor of the treat. Praise the puppy for dropping the ball near you. If the puppy does not bring the ball back, do not show it the treat.
Repeat the process, rewarding the puppy for bringing the ball back each time. Do not attempt marathon training sessions. Fetch is a game, so you should end the lesson before your dog wants to. This makes it more excited for the next session, and more receptive to the lesson.