Golden retriever playing fetch

Am I able to teach my dog how to fetch? She will happily race off after a tennis ball and pick it up, but then just drops it and wanders off sniffing. It’s great for giving me exercise, but it would be so much easier if I could get her to bring it back rather than me having to dart back and forth across the park!

Kirsten Dillon advises…

You didn’t mention what breed your dog is. Some breeds are predisposed to fetch items more readily than others (retrievers are the obvious example). It seems to me that your dog is enjoying the ‘chase’ part of throwing a ball but has no interest in retrieving it.

You can teach her to bring it back by starting with small steps and with her close by. Praise her when she has the ball in her mouth and hold out your hand. Reward any small movements back towards you and then build it up. Once she realises that bringing it back yields rewards, she may be more interested in participating.

I would also try something else – research your dog’s breed, if you know it, and find out what she was bred to do. Then make games in the park that suit her inherent behaviours. These could be sniffing and scent work, chasing a flirt pole or simply engaging with you in another way.

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