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He is 5 year old Jug, great shape, gets out twice a day but never fetches.

The most he does is grab the ball but runs with it then drops it somewhere along his run. I try getting him to run to me but no luck. The odd time he happens to run in my direction I can get him to drop it fairly easy.

What can I do to make him more engaged and get him to bring the ball back?

Any help would be very greatful :)

thanks.
 

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The big mistake you're making is training it outside. Start inside the house in a small room where he can't have much fun playing with himself. When he gets used to playing with you he will transfer this behaviour outside and will gradually improve on distractions. I suggest you google on many ways to train the fetch - it will take about 3 to 7 days before you can start doing it outside and don't test him during this period, don't try fetch outside until you're sure he will retrieve the ball. Also in the beginning use one single type of ball and never let him play with balls on his own so make sure there are no balls laying around in the backyard. As for the specific method of training fetch/retrieve, you can just google for it and you will find plenty of fun ways.
 

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What can I do to make him more engaged and get him to bring the ball back?
You could start teaching him to engage by playing basic one-on-one tug games, with another toy that's more conducive to tugging. No fetch required in the early stages at least. This will help to instill a belief that toys (including balls) are always "interactive" ... iow, that toys PLUS HUMANS always equals fun.
 

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Here is a very good step-by-step approach to teach a "fetch". Although it refers to puppies, the exact same approach can be used on an adult dog.

How To Teach Your Dog To Fetch

While the text doesn't emphasize the use of a clicker, you can certainly add the use of one if you want to. Simply add the 'click' at every reward. The link has a video to show you how to do that at one of the later steps, but you can do it the same way at any of the earlier ones.


Some points to keep in mind:

(1) As a general statement, with an adult dog like yours, you may sometimes run up against an already learned behavior that conflicts with what you are trying to teach. You may have to remain at some of the steps a bit longer if that is the case.

(2) When adding distance, SLOW..W..W and steady does it. Don't add too much distance too quickly.

(3) Some dogs are and remain "reluctant retrievers". This can be a breed specific trait as well as a trait of an individual dog. if your dog really doesn't seem to be enjoying this game very much, find another one that you both want to play.

(4) This is basically teaching a fetching game that you can play with your dog. This is NOT the way to teach an obedience retrieve or a field retrieve. However - and this is important - there is nothing in this approach that will conflict with teaching that later as a separate behavior if you want to do that.
 
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