“My dog knows a ‘drop it,’ but won’t drop it in the iFetch funnel!”

This is a frustrating situation. Luckily, we have a few dog training tips to help you both get past this issue.

In order to move forward, we recommend your pup has a solid “drop it.” If your pup is having problems on that stage of training, please refer to our training video from our previous blog post on teaching a “drop it” command. If you’ve got more specific questions or issues, you can always shoot us an email at info@goifetch.com.

Here are a few of our favorite solutions. Feel free to start with which ever one sounds like it will bring you the most success.


Position yourself better and jackpot the good ones.

Perhaps you always sit behind the iFetch. This time, try sitting on the side so when your dog approaches you with the ball, the iFetch is directly between you and your pup. Perhaps even try scooting back a few inches to the right when he approaches.

Or if every time you sit on the floor, you find your pup drops the ball in your lap, try placing the iFetch there (in your lap) instead. It may take a few tries, but when your pup drops it in, “jackpot it.” What exactly does that mean? Instead of giving one treat like we normally do during training sessions, when we “jackpot it,” we give two or three of the dog’s most favorite treats.


Reward only when the tennis ball goes in.

As shown in our training video, point to the iFetch funnel, then call your dog over with the tennis ball. When the dog is over the iFetch, ask your pup to “drop it.” He may miss the first few times, but tell him “good” and simply roll the ball away and repeat – but don’t give any treats for this behavior. When he or she successfully drops it in, give lots of delicious treats, the “jackpot.” It’s best to end on a high note, so that’s a great place to end your training session for that day.

Remember, all training sessions should be short and positive. With continual rewards for only those perfect drop ins, your pup should be dropping it in consistently, even sooner than you expected.

Set up a mark.

Set Up a Mark

Set Up a Mark

This is a common behavior we teach for movie work. It’s how we communicate clearly to the dogs where we want them to stand. By teaching your dog to stand on a mark, you can train your dog to stand in the right place to have a higher chance of success dropping the ball in the funnel. This is a great strategy for dogs that drop the ball before they reach the iFetch.

Your mark should be tall enough that your pup has to step up onto it. I like using a block of wood or a duct-taped phone book – the duct tape helps it from slipping and sliding out from under your dog.

With a treat in hand, lead your dog onto the mark and when both front feet stand on it, give the treat. Let the dog step off the mark on its own; don’t pull or push him off the mark. Repeat this for a few training sessions. When you aren’t practicing, put your mark away, so your dog doesn’t stand on it expecting a reward.

On Your Mark, Get Set, Fetch!

On Your Mark, Get Set, Fetch!

When your dog eagerly goes to the mark during a training session without you leading him/her onto it, you can move the mark next to or behind the iFetch. For the first few attempts, just show the dog where the mark is and reward for putting both front feet on.

Once you’ve got that down, you can roll the ball for him to get it and, with the ball in his mouth, lead the dog to the mark and ask him to “drop it.” After a few tries, he should drop it with ease into the iFetch funnel.


Clicker Training.

If your dog is already familiar with clicker training, this is a great opportunity to use those skills. If your dog isn’t familiar with clicker training, you’ll want to work on that first. During clicker training, you associate doing a command correctly with a ‘click’ from a clicker and simultaneously rewarding. Soon, the clicker sound becomes the reward itself.

Once your dog is familiar with the clicker, ask him or her to drop the ball in the funnel. When they drop the ball very close to the funnel, that’s when you should click. Over time, only click when the ball actually goes in the funnel. Remember with clicker training that timing is key.

With these dog training tips, we hope in no time your dog is dropping the ball in the iFetch over and over for endless fun!


What Do YOU Think?

Have you had any experiences with training your dog to use the iFetch? Or maybe you’ve got your own dog training tips to share on the subject? Please comment below and keep the conversation going. We might share your best tips with our readers in a future article or maybe even on our Facebook page.


Nicole Ellis

About Nicole Ellis

Nicole Ellis is a celebrity dog trainer, American Kennel Club CGC evaluator and APDT trainer, based in Los Angeles. Nicole has trained everything from bears to tigers, as well as household dogs and cats. Her dog, Maggie, was adopted from a city shelter and now appears in films and commercials, knows over 100 commands, and has her own fan club.


  • Avatar Mars305 says:

    My dog didn’t show much interest in this model. It doesn’t hold his attention. The balls don’t come out that fast, it just kind of sitting in a corner. I wish I had known about the one throws the ball out, instead of rolling out slowly.

  • Avatar Coco's Human says:

    Hi, I don’t know if my dog is just having difficulty because of her size, or timing. She can put her head into the funnel without issue, holding the ball. But she seems unable to drop the ball while inside the funnel. It has become very frustrating watching her put her whole head over the funnel with ball in mouth, only to see her pull her head out of the funnel and drop the ball outside the funnel. I have been click/treat training everytime she successfully ‘throws’ the ball into the funnel hoping to encourage her to ‘throw’ it into the funnel rather than simply ‘dropping’ it which she seems unable to do.

    I think she can’t open her jaw wide enough inside the funnel to release the ball, or it’s a mental thing. But it’s become a source of frustration because she knows what she needs to do, but cannot do it, and after enough ‘misses’, she looks at me, then lies down and stops. But i can’t treat her because we reached that point where treating for missing the funnel is regression. We’re both stressed and what should be fun is turning into struggle. And if she can’t drop it in consistantly, she won’t want to play on her own without my goading her, which defeats the purpose of the iFetch.


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