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Discussion Starter #1
Jackson was never one to naturally want to play fetch. I started 'teaching' him that it could be fun by getting the Kong squeaker tennis balls and I would talk all high pitched and show him how to chase the ball, and I'd have him on a long 50' line and kind of gently tug him back towards me, encouraging him to keep ball in mouth. I did use treats at first but quickly took those away when it became rewarding enough to just go chase again.

Now, thing is, he's always gotten kind of bored with it fairly quickly, and he'll only play in certain places. At our regular house, he'll play certain times of day (usually when I just get home when he's more excited, etc) but again, he's done after about 10 minutes. If we go to the dog park, 99% of the time he wants nothing to do with a ball or any toy.

I'd love to be able to take him to the park, or to an empty field, and have a ChuckIt and just have him run really far to go after it. But the thing is... when I've taken him up to the high school football field when no one is using it, he's just wayyyy more interested in smelling things. He will run full speed in circles whenever we first arrive at a new place like that with such a big empty field but a ball does not interest him in the slightest (at least at first).

Is it just a matter of me taking him to these places and REALLY encouraging it? I've gotten him a few different toys, too. He got sick of the kong tennis balls, then we were using the orbee but he got tired of it too, and then we found this little rubber ball-thingy he loves. So I try to rotate between them.

Anyways, I know he has the potential, because he's really good at it when he does it... he can easily catch balls in his mouth when I throw them in the air for him to catch, and he enjoys jumping up to get them.



I've even gotten him interested in frisbees, but I'd really love to teach him to catch a disc from a semi-far distance and not just chase it. I have mini plastic discs from Petco, but he tends to enjoy chewing the plastic off those. He really likes chasing them though which I think is a good thing.

Also, I've been slacking lately and not even doing it that much with him. There was a time where I'd make it a point to get outside at least once a day to do a game of fetch and during the summer, it was always just too hot, so I'd like to start doing it again this fall.

Basically, I need TIPS... how to build drive, keep fetch going longer, and more distance.

Oh, and frisbee suggestions. I think I am going to purchase the small Hover Craft by Ruff Wear: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001QC30H6/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&m=A37XNGS4WH2DDR maybe start using softer-sided discs again to teach him catching.

But I need a suggestion better than Petco for the mini plastic discs.
 

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1. Tug. You can tug with different types of frisbees, skineez, tennis balls w/ropes, Kong Wubbas, etc. This has worked wonders for me.

2. Always end while he's still having fun. If that means you only throw the ball once and give him a jackpot, so be it. Work your way up so that he's not getting bored.

3. Shape a retrieve at home if you haven't already. This is just one more thing in building the association between toys/retrieving and awesome-happy-fun-time.

4. Make a single successful retrieve the "life reward" that earns him off leash freedom at the football field.

Hopefully somebody else will chime in because this is just what I've used so far.
 

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You know, I'm not really sure how I got Nia started in playing fetch but now she's just a ball nut. Literally all we do every day for exercise is go to the field where usually there's another 10-20 dogs playing with each other or whatever. She'll say hi to everyone, then we play fetch for an hr or so sometimes throwing in new tricks in between using the ball as a reward. Then more fetch at home during the day with various toys from soft to balls to bones.

I think some dogs are just more naturally into playing fetch than others? I know a lot of people's dogs love to play with each other at the park and I always wish Nia would play with the other dogs but she does very rarely and definitely won't if I have a ball...

Nia started doing it consistently just from me acting all crazy and jumping up and down, petting and encouraging. Maybe I did that a little too much.......:)
 

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You know, I'm not really sure how I got Nia started in playing fetch but now she's just a ball nut. Literally all we do every day for exercise is go to the field where usually there's another 10-20 dogs playing with each other or whatever. She'll say hi to everyone, then we play fetch for an hr or so sometimes throwing in new tricks in between using the ball as a reward. Then more fetch at home during the day with various toys from soft to balls to bones.

I think some dogs are just more naturally into playing fetch than others? I know a lot of people's dogs love to play with each other at the park and I always wish Nia would play with the other dogs but she does very rarely and definitely won't if I have a ball...
They're definitely twins then! This entire thing could have described Mia.

Mia would play ball nonstop and I don't really remember ever encouraging it that much. I bought her first kong squeakers and it was like a lightbulb turned on. Now, as a pup she would get distracted at the park or new places- especially agility class- but as we played more and more it got to where I could bring out a ball anywhere and she'd go ripping after it. I never really rewarded it specifically, it just became so self rewarding to her.

Summer will NOT play tennis ball though. I wonder if she would have if I'd had her as a pup though. The other three are so-so at it and tire easily. I think some dogs (like Mia) are just born nuts. ;)
 

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I can't get Jubel excited about fetch either. He'd occassionally chase a ball at the dog park but it was more chasing the other dog and/or stealing the ball so they'd pay attention to him (he's a brat). If the fetch ball squeeked he's snatch it when the other dog dropped it to be thrown again and run off hoping to be chased or just lay down and start chewing the hell out of it.

At home I can usually get him interested in playing fetch for about 10-15 minutes tops in the house, usually with treats. Recently he won't even do that no matter which version or ball, squeeky ball, stuffed squeeky I try and use. Haha it'd be so much easier if he had that fetch drive but he seems to have had enough of me making him fetch for a while, very food motivated dog who won't fetch for treats for the last week or so.
 

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1. Tug. You can tug with different types of frisbees, skineez, tennis balls w/ropes, Kong Wubbas, etc. This has worked wonders for me.
I agree with this. I think the only reason Max plays fetch is because he wants to play tug. Sometimes he'll forget, drop it and come back looking at me ready to play more.
 

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I can't get Jubel excited about fetch either. He'd occassionally chase a ball at the dog park but it was more chasing the other dog and/or stealing the ball so they'd pay attention to him (he's a brat). If the fetch ball squeeked he's snatch it when the other dog dropped it to be thrown again and run off hoping to be chased or just lay down and start chewing the hell out of it.

At home I can usually get him interested in playing fetch for about 10-15 minutes tops in the house, usually with treats. Recently he won't even do that no matter which version or ball, squeeky ball, stuffed squeeky I try and use. Haha it'd be so much easier if he had that fetch drive but he seems to have had enough of me making him fetch for a while, very food motivated dog who won't fetch for treats for the last week or so.
This is Cherokee for sure. No ball is interesting unless it is someone else's and a ploy to initiate chase. When we find a ball in the woods he will chase it if I kick it on the ground but he does not retrieve it. He gets distracted by a scent and drops the ball and then I kick it again so he can go and chase it. Rinse and repeat.

He also likes to play keep-away with a soccer ball. He stands over it and I kick out from under him and he chases it and then charges around the yard with the soccer ball in his mouth (It's a little bit flat so he can grip it but it doesn't pop). Eventually he brings it back to me so I can kick it again. That's the closest I have ever come to fetch with him (aside for the brief interludes that include fetching to trade for treats). His excitement for "soccer ball" is high but he loses interest very quickly.
 

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My Abby loves, loves, loves fetch! But, Harper, no matter how we tried, was NOT interested. Different dogs have different interests, I guess...
 

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1) Try conditioning a collar grab and then engaging his opposition reflex. Pair grabbing his collar with giving him treats, then moving to gently pulling on his collar and giving him treats. This is so you don't freak him out when you move on to the other part of the game because he's learned to love having his collar grabbed. Then, grab his collar, and pull him back away from the direction you're planning to throw the ball/toy. Throw the ball, and release him. Some sort of cue during this like "ready.... set..... GO!" or something also helps.

2) Tofu_pup is correct -- I wouldn't let him end the game. I would always choose to end the game when he clearly wants more fetch.

3) Pair his favorite rewards with playing fetch again. I wouldn't hesitate to add back treats sometimes, or go to a random reward schedule, in order to get more desire from a dog. If he already understands how fetch works, the key is making him love fetch, and that may mean teaching him that fetch is a great way to access some of his favorite things.
 

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I did the same thing with Pixie, she was never really into toys, but starting showing more interest after I shaped her to interact with her toys. She now even plays with her toys all on her own. She would only be interested for short periods though, and when I started doing flyball I needed her to have more ball drive. So I removed all her balls that were lying around, and only did one play session with a ball a day, and always ended it when she was at her most excited and wanted to keep going. She will now play with the ball for ages.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Wow- amazing tips guys! Thanks! I am going to practice some of this stuff tomorrow with him, as today was pretty rainy and yucky!

I feel like I already got the basics down, as in a desire to chase the things I am throwing, so now its just a matter of making him MORE amped up and have MORE drive and being able to use a toy as a reward, etc.
 

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1) Try conditioning a collar grab and then engaging his opposition reflex. Pair grabbing his collar with giving him treats, then moving to gently pulling on his collar and giving him treats. This is so you don't freak him out when you move on to the other part of the game because he's learned to love having his collar grabbed. Then, grab his collar, and pull him back away from the direction you're planning to throw the ball/toy. Throw the ball, and release him. Some sort of cue during this like "ready.... set..... GO!" or something also helps.
An alternative is to teach him an "around" cue(meaning to walk behind you to your left side facing the same direction as you). Its easier for them to catch a frisbee when it's out in front of them. It also isn't(potentially) frightening like having a flying disc coming straight toward your face.

I also held the disc over Kaki and encouraged her to take it. Repeat a few times. Then I gave it a good spin, enough to make it kind of hang there. Big jackpot puppy party for catching it.

Like what lil_fuzzy said, I stash away all of MY favorite toys. They keep their novelty and we can keep building on toy drive.
 

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In addition to tug, "rollers" are a great way to build disc drive. Dogs don't naturally grab prey right out of the air. Instead, they're conditioned to grab prey running along the ground, like a rabbit for example. A "roller" mimics this movement. Just throw the disc perpendicular to the ground so that it rolls along its edge. Might seem simple, but it's hard for dogs to resist. Repeat a lot until the dog has the drive to grab it out of the air.
 

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I feel your pain! Basil is not a retriever at all. He went through a short phase last winter where he'd chase a tennis ball for a few reps, but it didn't last long! I am appreciating the advice that others are giving though and perhaps I'll use it to help train Basil to retrieve a little more! But as of right now, I'm making due by instead having him chase me around. When we go out to big empty fields and such and I want Basil to actually run around instead of just standing and sniffing, I'll take off running and he LOVES to chase me. It is pretty exhausting though, WAY more exhausting than simply tossing a ball.
 

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All I had to do was connect it to food.

Hey Wally - get the ball.

Wally: Why? It looks like it's fine chillin' over there.

Me: *breaks out a pancake*

Wally: Me want pancake! I want pancake!

Me: Get the ball.

Wally: *gets the ball*

Me: Give.

Wally: *throws ball in my hand*

Wally: Pancake? Me get pancake?

Me: Wally haz pancake (pinches off pancake)

Wally: Where ball? Where's the *%&(^*(@&^ ball!

Mission accomplished.

From there, I started him on retrieve, continuing to reward with high value food stuff because this dog dies for food. (I swear he had to be starved as a pup, it can't be normal to be this food motivated...)

Then shaping. Shaped the *** out of it. Made the ONLY thing I'd reward for a week was picking up the ball. Nothing else. No paws, barking, drops, sits, touches. Just picking up the ball. No hints or cues from me. Just him, me, and the ball, and I wasn't saying nothin'.

Then connected it to life. Want to eat? Get a ball. Want to pee? Get a ball. Want to sniff that hot dog over there? Get the ball. Want to play? Get the ball. Want to go in? Get your ball. Want to come out? Get the ball.

Had him carry the ball to the playground. Play with it, had him carry the ball back. He had to carry the ball inside, get the ball, put it down, open the door, get ball again, go downstairs, go to my room, put the ball down, open that door, pick the ball up, put the ball on his bed (yep, all on his own - I don't say a thing, he just has to do it). Then he can eat.

Now, he's so into it, we're playing catch with it, he'll retrieve it, chase it, attack it, whatever. I just have to TOUCH the ball and he's all wide-eyed and alert.
 

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Cadence isn't much of a fetcher either.. He'll humour me for 15 mins tops, even though I trained him with treats. After a while he just plops down beside me and stares at the treats. If there's other dogs around, he'll NEVER fetch the ball.. Basically he'd rather play with other dogs than with me. I'm his last resort, so to speak, lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I love all your stories/tips/feedback! I've been getting him more and more excited about it, but he still doesn't last long. I guess I just need to end it even SOONER. Like, do two throws and that's it. End it while he's still super excited. I haven't had much time to be outdoors and "practice" though... weather has been sooo odd.

But hopefully this week we can be outside more. He plays in the house all the time so that's nothing new.

Oh, I did purchase two of the orange ChuckIt balls for him and he LOVES them... the regular sized ones. But I think he may like the smaller ones better so I may pick up a few of them, too. So yay for another motivating toy!
 
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