As I may have mentioned before, we have two big lab mutts. By “big”, I mean that that each dog is a bit over 70 lbs. These are not the “lie down and loll around labs” that you may have encountered. These are the “look, we can stand on our back feet and hop straight up” variety that you occasionally seeing catching frisbees.
In fact, one of them loves to do just that. His name is Gus, and if you throw anything at all in his general direction, he’ll do everything he can to catch it. Failing that, he’ll chase it down and bring it back to you.
Playing “fetch”, therefore, is a natural way to exercise the dogs.
I’ve been trying to get C involved in this game for some time. For whatever reason, he is simply not interested. However, I noticed that his little brother has been watching intently whenever I play fetch.
So I decided to give it a try with him. We quickly discovered two very important problems. First, he doesn’t throw the dog toy far enough for Gus to recognize that it has actually been thrown. The dog just lies there, waiting for us to pick it up and throw it again. Second, we have a very strict rule that the dogs are not allowed to take things away from the kids.
I ended up with Gus lying down and whining while my youngest son picked up his toy, dropped it, picked it up again, dropped it again, and so forth. Not a very satisfying game of fetch.
I decided to focus on the actual throwing part. I showed the little guy the throwing motion: how to pull your arm back, shift your weight, when to open your hand, and so forth. After a whole bunch of tries, we got the toy to go a good 5 feet.
Then I called to Gus. To get him started, I threw the toy and shouted “Fetch!”
Gus stretched out on the grass while N ran after it, picked it up and brought it back to me.
“Thanks, but let’s let Gus go get it. We throw, he fetches.”
“No! Fetch! Fetch!”
sigh… “No, dogs fetch. people throw.”
“No! Fetch. Throw! You Throw!”
Then the lightbulb turned on. All this time he’d been watching, I’d assumed he wanted to be throwing the chew toy. He’d actually been wanting to chase after it. I looked down at Gus, who looked sadly up at me.
“Sorry, big guy.” I said – and then I threw the chew toy for my youngest son to fetch.