Playing fetch with your dog is so much fun but it's important to know how to teach it as it's not as simple as you think :)

There are many steps to the game: 1) chase the ball  2) pick up the ball 3) hold the ball in your mouth 4) run back to me 5) drop the ball.

There are many ways to teach it. The following way is very easy and presumes your dog enjoys playing with toys. Not all do.

The first thing to teach is “drop”. If your dog has that skill you can begin as described below. If not, you need to teach drop.

I like getting the dog used to running back and forth past me before I worry about carrying the ball back and dropping it. I want to encourage my dog to have fun. If I get hung up on whether or not the ball is returned, the joy is gone.

Begin teaching this inside then move to your backyard if you have one.  When you begin to teach in a public setting such as a park, make sure there are no other dogs around who may sabotage your efforts. If other dogs approach, simply pick up your toys.

Begin with 2 or more balls or other type of fetch toys – identical ones are ideal but not essential.
- I begin right away teaching the cue to get the toy. I prefer to say “get it” as oppose to “fetch” but that is personal choice
-Do not add any cue that means bring it back just yet. The cue I use to return is “bring”.

1) Take one ball, say “get it” and toss it just a few feet (you can roll it on the floor if you are indoors) Far enough that your dog will want to chase it. Avoid the urge to toss it a great distance. Remember to pause after saying the cue/ before you toss or your dog will not learn the cue.
-Don’t worry about whether or not he brings the ball back. If he does – bonus! You can praise him as he is running back to you. More likely, he will get the ball and run somewhere else ☺

2) When he gets to the first ball, wait to see if he picks it up. You encourage him with praise – “whatta good boy” when he does. Don’t say bring it or come here in an effort to get him to come back with it.  If he does come to you on his own great! 
Don’t grab the ball out of his mouth**** but simply toss the 2nd ball in the opposite direction. Pick up the first one when he goes for the 2nd one.
 
3) If he doesn’t come back, get a bit excited so he looks in your direction and move away from him. Dogs are attracted by movement so moving away will entice him to follow.
If you are working with a ball that squeaks – you can do one squeak and cue/toss when he looks.
If he runs to get the other one with the first one in his mouth – that’s ok. That’s why you are working with multiples ☺

Toss the ball when he’s close, cuing “get it” as above.

4) Repeat the process of saying “get it” just before you toss the ball in one direction and then the other.
Make sure you always go to pick up the ball left behind.

5) Watch to see if at some point he carries it back to you. If he does say “bring” as he is running towards you. Again, don’t worry about whether or not he drops it.
When he arrives you can reward with a treat or another ball toss.

What tends to happen over many repetitions, is the dog grabs the ball and runs back towards you in anticipation of the next toss.

That’s when you begin to add your “bring” cue. When he is already running towards you. As he is in front of you cue “drop”. (presumes he’s been taught this). I have found that the dog tends to drop without being asked once he understands the game.
Reward with a couple of treats if you like, and toss. Some dogs simply want the opportunity to chase and don’t care about the treats. That’s okay.

Tips:
*Get excited about the toy so your dog gets excited!  Toss the ball in the air and have fun with it. Let the dog wonder what all the fuss is about.

*End the game while your dog is still having fun. This is really hard to do but it’s very important to if you want the dog to get excited when you bring out the fetch toys. This may mean you only do a few repetitions.

*If at any point in time the dog does not return with the toy, begin to play with the one you have and move away from your dog. In other words, have a party at your end of the room!

*Don’t fall into the trap of saying “Come on, bring it back, you can do it”….blah blah blah if he is not returning. Simply repeat the party at your end, run in the opposite direction  - or end the session as he’s clearly not interested in interacting!

*Important point: I have designated fetch toys. They only come out when I intend to play with my dog. That keeps them exciting and something to look forward to.