Start By Using Treats for Your Dog to Catch
If your dog doesn’t know how to catch you’ll want to start with something light & enticing. Start with small objects; don’t start by throwing a heavy toy at your dogs face. If he doesn’t catch the toy he’s just going to end up associating tossing with getting hit in the face with a heavy Kong.
Starting with food is great because the object is it’s own reward. Grab some small dog treats and have your dog sit in front of you. Throw the treat up in the air towards your dog. If he doesn’t catch it pick it up so he can’t eat it. Eventually your dog will get frustrated that he’s not getting his treats and he’ll be more apt to try catching it before you take it back.
After your confident in your dogs ability to catch you can introduce some lighter toys such as a tennis ball. If you have a puppy I’d recommend bouncing a tennis ball and encouraging them to catch that way; big toys can hurt a pup’s teeth.
Your dog might not be the next Yogi Berra; but you can teach him a pretty decent catch.
If your dog moves to grab the treat, give him verbal praise but dont let him have it unless he catches it. If he does not move toward it, pick it up and try again.
Repeat the above steps and increase the distance between the treat and your dog’s mouth. Once your dog has to lift his front paws off of the ground, begin to drop it into his mouth.
Continue to increase the distance between the treat and your dogs mouth, adding a more difficult challenge. As your dog catches the food, begin to toss food at him at more of an arc rather than dropping down words into his mouth.
Repeat these steps, not allowing your dog to have the treat unless he leaps forward in an effort to catch and catches the treat in mid-air. Repeat several times in 5 to 10 minute sessions.
Continue to work with your dog in 5 to 10 minutes sessions a few times a day until he gets the hang of catching the food in his mouth.
Step 2: Teach Your Dog to Chase the Ball
This step is pretty straightforward. Simply throw the ball (or your object of choice) a short distance and encourage your dog to chase after it! Since many dogs are programmed to chase after a thrown object, there’s not much you’ll have to do aside from toss the toy. However, some dogs may not quite understand what a ball or toy is yet, so you must introduce it to them. Get them excited about the object by bouncing it, playing with it, and rolling it around in front of them.