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Discussion Starter #1
I don't know if this is a phase, or she's just one of those dogs that doesn't care for fetch play (I've had at least one of those). Her prey drive is pretty strong (chases bugs and geckos without fail), and she does pretty well on the first two or three tries. But after that, even when she knows I have treats, she'll give chase, pick it up, saunter back a few steps and drop the toy. Sometimes she gets distracted by a scent or something in the grass. Sometimes she just stares back. I've tried several toys, including stuffed animals, Kong balls, and Frisbees (thrown low to the ground so she doesn't have to jump).

Should I try higher value treats? (Using mini training treats most of the time.) Not worry about it and focus on other games she likes (like tug)?
 

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Donna Hill has a nice video on back-chaining a retrieve to hand if playing fetch is important to you. Otherwise, you can focus on other activities.

I will say that I wish I had spent more time training a real "fetch" so that I could use it as reinforcement in agility. Katie will do anything for her squeaky ball; unfortunately, it's not useful as reinforcement because she'd rather run around with her "catch" than return to me to continue working.
 

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I started teaching fetch with a tug toy, because my dog would always bring it back to play tug. From there we started using other toys and frisbees, which did require treats to shape a proper (kind of) retrieve. It took a bit for him to "get" that even though the toy is technically dead when he catches it, if he brings it back to me he not only gets a treat, but the toy "comes alive" again.

You can also try simply not throwing it as far so she does not have as much opportunity to get distracted on her way back. As she learns the point of the game is to bring the toy back to you, you can throw it farther.
 

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I don't know that I can give specific advice, but just don't give up. Luna used to watch the ball roll by and then look at you like "Oh yea. Am I supposed to care about that?" but now she motors after the ball.

We just introduced using it as a reward for agility this week and she did well. She doesn't have a perfect retrieve yet, but for now I'm exchanging for treats and she's ben doing really well.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I started teaching fetch with a tug toy, because my dog would always bring it back to play tug.
Why didn't I think of that? She goes ballistic when we play tug!

You can also try simply not throwing it as far so she does not have as much opportunity to get distracted on her way back. As she learns the point of the game is to bring the toy back to you, you can throw it farther.
Well... she knows the point is to bring it back, since she does it when it suits her. I guess one possibility here is that at six months, her attention span is still sputtering?
 

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It seems there are two kinds of dogs that don't fetch - those that won't chase it and those that won't bring it back.

I think the latter can be trained to bring it back and enjoy it.

But for the former - why force it? Some dogs just don't seem to enjoy fetch. My father wanted me to play golf. He signed me up for year after year of group lessons at the club where he played and could never understand why I continued to suck at golf. It wasn't until years later that I admitted to him that I would sneak off to the pool the moment he was out of sight. I ended up being a terrible golfer and a pretty decent competitive swimmer.

I have one dog, Esther, who is obsessed with fetch. If I don't pick up the ball quickly-enough and throw it again, she will literally pick it up and throw it at me. She nearly always hits me right in the groin. She has gone over one 5-foot fence to get a ball that was poorly thrown and gone right through another fence. She will never, ever give up.

Molly doesn't care about fetch, but she loves chasing Esther while SHE chases the ball.

And Zeke mostly tries to stay out of the way to avoid getting trampled.
 

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Should I try higher value treats?
Sometimes it's not just about treat value, it's about treat quantity. Even with lower- or mid-value treats

she does pretty well on the first two or three tries.
So, do one or two retrieves .. MASSIVE JACKPOT ... and then cheerfully call it a day until next time, at least for the fetch portion of training anyway. Allow the concept to percolate in her brain for a while. Build some salience. Perhaps carry on with other exercises in that same session, but restrict treats to singular.

Jackpots can be a very powerful communication device.
 

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I wouldn't use treats to train fetch, unless that's your only option. It turns it into more of a trained behavior, vs putting her in prey drive mode, or chasing the ball because she loves the game. Plenty of dogs do learn to enjoy fetch by using treats, but it's one of those things where if you don't absolutely need it, don't use it. Try to get her to the point where she likes chasing the toy, and wants to bring it back and drop it in order to make you throw it again.

Try the two-toy game. Have two similar toys, throw one, then as she picks it up start playing with the one in your hand. Throw it around, squeak it, etc to get her interested and heading back to you. As she starts to come back to you, throw the toy you have in the opposite direction (so she has to pass you). She'll probably drop the one she has in order to chase the second one. Repeat and keep her moving back and forth.

And rewarding the retrieve with tugging is also a great idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm happy to report that we had a great fetch play time yesterday using the tug toy (a long, thick rope). She brought it back every time, dropped it when I told her, I picked it up, we played tug, drop again, followed by a throw-fetch, and so on. Great fun. You could tell she loved it, which is really what I want (no sense in playing a game she doesn't enjoy). So I think I'm going to stick with this for a bit, then return to my other fetch toys to see how that goes.
 
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