Is your dog afraid of the sound your iFetch makes? Don’t worry. We can help.
We recommend a gradual training approach starting with getting your pup used to the iFetch while it’s turned off, then playing fetch independently near the machine while it’s on, and eventually working up to having him fetch straight from the iFetch. You’ll be able to coach your pup through his fear and increase his confidence, as you work through training together.
First, get your dog used to seeing the iFetch.
If he’s afraid of the ball launcher itself (he might think it’s a strange white dog-eating alien spaceship for all we know), leave the iFetch device out in your house (turned off) so it becomes a normal piece of furniture. Then, start spending some time on simple training behaviors like having your dog sit or lay down beside (or near) the iFetch. Make sure to stay where your pet feels most comfortable. If his comfort zone is 5 feet away, then don’t push your pet to be any closer. When you find the spot where he’s not nervous, run through some simple commands, and reward him. For example, practice picking up the ball and dropping it near the iFetch. Then, over the next few training sessions, see if you can get him to move just a foot closer and repeat. If he does it, then tell him how good he is and reward him. Also, consider moving the iFetch near your pup’s food bowl or another place in the house he enjoys. That way, your dog will get used to seeing it in a positive, non-training setting as well.
Next, de-sensitize your dog to the sound itself
When starting to conquer the sound fear, there are a few different approaches you can try. Start with the one you think will be the best fit for your pup, and if that doesn’t work, try the other.
1. Train your dog to associate the iFetch noise with a simple game of fetch.
The first method will usually require two people, so you’ll need a helper. This method is best for ball-motivated dogs, as your dog will make a positive association between the ball shooting out, and the sound of the iFetch. (For those of you who are familiar with clicker training, think of the iFetch as a giant clicker). Start with someone holding your dog away from the device, put the ball in, and have your helper release the pup. Your dog will run for the ball, and will learn to associate the iFetch sound with a game of fetch.
2. Train your dog to associate the iFetch sound with a food reward.
Put a leash on your dog and have your helper hold him. Have a supply of the absolute yummiest of treats nearby. Then, turn the iFetch on so your pet hears the sound, but do not place a ball inside. Immediately, on the iFetch sound, ask the dog to sit, then reward immediately. Start as far away from the iFetch as your pet is comfortable. Over time, your dog should learn to associate the iFetch sound with a positive reward and experience, and will keep moving closer on your command. Once they are coming closer to the iFetch, initiate a game of fetch beside the iFetch. Then, when your dog is more comfortable, try launching the ball with the iFetch, always offering a treat for brave behavior.
When you are both ready to start practicing dropping the ball in the iFetch, we have a training video for you. When you get to this step, congratulations! Those sound fears are a thing of the past.
If you progress slowly through the training steps, that’s ok. The goal is to increase your dog’s confidence, and help him conquer his fears. In the meantime, you’ll find that the training experience brings you and your dog even closer, and you’ll be a proud parent watching your dog fetch to his heart’s content.