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Thread: Refusing to retrieve all the way

  1. #1

    Default Refusing to retrieve all the way


    Ive just got Twiggy. He is a short haired Border Collie and is about 5 months old. I have been trying to play fetch with him but there are some hiccups. He chases after the ball, then when he gets to it, he sits next to it and and stares at me. Sometimes he walks a little way in my direction but then drops the ball. He comes when I call him but he leaves the ball behind. Same thing happens when I have a treat, he comes for the treat without the ball and then goes back to sitting next to the ball.

    I have been going over and getting the ball, but I know this isnt the right thing to do. How do I teach him to bring it back to me?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Hi K

    Congrats on your new puppy.

    You're right - he's training you to do the fetching cos he only likes the chasing...

    I take it he does like chasing? Use that as a reward for the fetching... And get him to work for each throw (eg nice sit or drop or stand stay)

    Beware of lumping. If he can't get it right - break down the task into smaller bits.

    In this case - try working on fetch with much much shorter throws. Ie get him to do a nice retrieve from 1m, before you throw the ball 5m.

    Beware of fetch problems with dogs that have tendencies to ball obsession and also injury on pick up. so practice making him wait until the ball has stopped moving before he can fetch it, but you probably have to build up to that.

    So I would try a few things like get him to sit facing the back fence, throw the ball about 1m towards the back fence - tell him he can "go" (have you trained a release word yet?), and you run in the opposite direction. Does he chase you or go after the ball? Have a tug toy or rope or another ball to reward him with if he chases you...

    then build up to only rewarding him (with you running or second toy etc) when he engages with the ball you threw first. Build up from sniffing at it - to mouthing it to carrying it a bit towards you then a bit more. And then build up the distance he brings it.

    You may need to play a get it - give game first eg - get him to get the ball out of your hand, and then put it back there. heaps of reward (what ever he likes best) for putting the ball in your hand.

    Pay attention to what your dog likes eg
    chasing you
    playing tug
    eating food (what food does he like best)
    pats and ear rubs and butt rubs

    Use these things as rewards and ask him to do something before you hand any of them over.

    A fetch the ball back to your hand is quite complicated - and not every dog gets it naturally - mine doesn't.

    I have to be very sure not to reward the chase and no fetch. No more throwing the ball if she does that. And I pay attention to how many good fetches I get before she stops - and next time I throw one less than that and put the ball away while she still wants it.

    Beware of the dog training you

    And we'd like to see some pix please - you will have to attach - the web links won't work for a while when you first join unless a mod approves them.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012


    What Hyacinth says

  4. #4


    Hi 'Kowalczykpaulinka' and welcome to the forum !

    I also can’t wait to see photos of your new pup.

    I really don’t like seeing young pups chasing moving balls. They can be too easily hurt and damaged by the repetitious nature of this wonderful ‘game of fetch’.

    I came across this on my FB newsfeed and thought it would be appropriate here:

    X-ray Picture of a 2 Weeks Old Puppy | Important information regarding treating and feeding puppies ~ Dogs & Puppies

    Yes, the pup in the photo is only 2 weeks old – but look at the growing this pup has to go through before everything is set in place !

    It is interesting that if you want to do agility with your pup – most clubs won't let you start until your pup is at least 18 months old.

    There are heaps of other things that you can teach your pup at this age – have a look around these links:

    Puppies and Young Dogs | K9pro Training

    Patricia McConnell PH.D. | McConnell Publishing Inc.

    Karen Pryor Clicker Training Store

    Love this link - so have a good look around this link and corresponding website – heaps of great information:

    Have fun with your new pup !

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011


    Nero does that 'half way' fetch sometimes to manouver me into the direction where he wants to go. I.e. away from the car (if we are on our way back) or towards the lake.

  6. #6


    Some great advice, I can only add that if you just got the dog it may need more bonding time. Not bringing the toy all the way sometimes indicates fear of losing the toy, the dog has to learn it just means the start of more fun, not natural for possesive dogs and has to be built with trust.

    Important to distinguish a game of fun fetch to a formal retrieve, for fun I just play fetch with two balls and don't care how good or bad the standard is.

    A formal retrieve I never throw the toy, the dog learns to hold it on comand then it learns to retrieve a placed item, then it learns to find and retrieve a hidden item and hold it until told to release which ends up looking like a game of fetch but the training and intention is completely different.

    If the goal is fun consider two ball option.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Melbourne VIC


    Haha, just wanted to say that I read the title of this and immediately said "I bet it's a Border Collie". :P
    Not uncommon for a herding breed to do that. Nothing to do with fear, it's just that herding breeds stick tot he outer. They don't like to come right in close, especially if there are other dogs around it/you.

    Great advice above.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    melbourne australia


    I had this with my working line GSD pup. We went to steve courtnery, and he taught me chasing is the desire/reward, not bringing it back to you. So had me get 2 identical reward tugs. Position dog in a sit. Throw one toy to the left and say command for fetch, as the dog collects the toy, and turns to face you, throw the other toy to the right.
    so the dog criss crosses over in front of you, and you dont walk too far.

    Then this keeps the chase momentum (motivator) right at peak, with reward being 100% for the dog.

    Then space it out, and selectively reward closer and closer spit to where you are located.
    Took my pup a couple of goes at this game. And still loves it to this day at 8

    I learnt the hard way. SWAP not FETCH

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