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I can't get Lincoln to play fetch no matter how many times I have tried. She has been trained to sit, down, leave-it, stay, come - all the basic commands, but I can't get her to fetch, not even once. She either chases after the ball/toy and takes it in a corner to play with on her own or she ignores it entirely. I've tried balls, various toys, treat-filled toys, and nothing has worked - Every dog owner I've spoken with has told me that they never trained their dog to fetch and their dog just did it naturally. She is a mutt, our best guess is a mix breed maltese/border terrier. Any thoughts or suggestions?
 

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Okay. Fetch. You need to backchain it, if she doesn't have it naturally. That means you start with getting her to hand something to you. Then you ask her to pick it up off the ground and hand it to you. Then you ask her to pick it up off the ground and walk a step and hand it to you - and then so on and so forth.

I had the best success with this with a pill bottle with holes drilled in, stuffed with treats. Feed FROM the container, every time you get one of those steps successfully. Once the dog retrieves THAT, ideally with some command, you start throwing something ELSE, asking for the retrieve, and then feeding when they return to you. It eventually becomes generalized and you can get them to bring back anything you throw.

But it's going to take a while because all those little steps take time to get solid and for the dog to start finding the game fun.
 

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Great advice from CptJack. Here is another method, though it's also backchaining:

-If your dog has a toy in its mouth, grab it and immediately reward so he give the toy to you. Repeat. Remember: Toy is in your hand when he drops it for the reward. If he is ignoring the toy and focused on the food now you might have to engage him with the toy again so its in his mouth. Or in a separate exercise, build value for the toy by rewarding him with food when he interacts with it (which is how you teach a dog to Hold something, but that's another story!).
-Eventually move to 'catching' the toy in your hand as he drops it, and THEN rewarding. You need to position your hand as he lets go of it. He is likely NOT bringing it to you yet. The former step was to reinforce the trade of direct toy-to-hand for food. Step two is more focused on the not just that, but the act of the toy dropping into your hand before the reward.
-Very slowly move your hand further from the drop area. You should see him readjusting himself (ie, moving forward just the slightest bit) so that the toy will still go into your hand. Reward for that. Very gradually increase distance. When this becomes consistent I would throw in a cue, "Bring it here", or whatever you want to call it. Eventually, your dog will be bringing it to you. And then you can toss it short distances, and increase distance.
-Your dog may not generalize all items at once, so you may have to repeat the process for different items. But if you do it enough, the "Bring it here" command can be generalized.
 

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Also, if she already is keen on getting the toy but sort of prances around with it, this is another possible method:
-Put out your hand and mark/reward when she gets even remotely close to you, and she should drop the toy for the reward.
-Repeat and she should start bringing it closer and closer before dropping.
-Eventually she should be so close that your hand can be on the toy before she drops it. Voila, retrieval to your hand.

This method worked in like two days for a dog that was already very toy oriented but did not 'naturally fetch.' But rereading your post, if she immediately runs off with it and shows no inclination of running even remotely toward you/around you with it, then it might not work.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
These suggestions/methods are great.
I appreciate you all taking the time to write these up and will try these over the next few weeks.
Best - Dan
 

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I just, after over a year of trying, am starting to get my Cassius to fetch. He is not a natural retriever and at first gave zero flips about chasing tossed objects or balls, let alone bringing them back. First thing was finding a toy he was actually interested in - in our case, a soft stuffed thing with a squeaker inside, that I left sit in a bag with treats for a couple days, lol. So he'd chase that, because it was fun and stinky. Then I taught him take it/give it with the toy, so he got the idea that giving the toy to me got treats. Then I was able to combine tossing the toy with take it and give it commands, which is basically fetch. He's pretty into it now, has a lot of fun with the game. We only do a few repetitions at a time, though, because he's not a golden retriever to endlessly bring back the stick to throw again...fetch will lose its luster for him if belabored, I think.
 

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I'm in a similar boat, parus. Soro looks very black lab and watching him fetch it seems like he is very excited about it. But it's because throughout his life I have been rewarding fetch with either food or tug games. I know that armed with nothing but a tennis ball, Soro WILL fetch because it is a command. But he is not naturally into it.
 

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Yup, Cas is getting the generalized concept of fetch on command now. But he's not into it for itself the way retriever and retriever mixes I've had in the past were.

I had to teach him to tug, too. That one he took to more naturally and seems way more atavistically excited about, so I think maybe he used to be into it, but was discouraged from tugging. But fetch, he was just like, whaa? Why did you throw that thing, weirdo?
 

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All really great suggestions.

Another game to try is called two ball. If she will chase and pick up an object but not bring it back, try having two of the same toy. Throw one and when she picks it up start squeaking the one still in your hand and making a big deal out of it. Hopefully she will come back because now she wants the toy that you have, and when she drops the one in her mouth throw the one you are holding.

One of my dogs started running off with toys when I started forcing him to drop them. He will drop for a treat, or for another toy, but if I just hold the toy until he drops it he eventually gets sick of playing with me and takes the toy. Not sure if this is an issue with your dog, but just be careful about how you get the drop so she learns that dropping means more fun things happen, whether it's a treat or the toy being thrown again.
 

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I have problems with Ida bringing the toy back to me, in that she is not consistent at it, so I've started using Susan Garret's Restrained Recalls techniques to build value in Ida bringing the toy to me instead of running away with it. In my mind, it should work but we only started doing it yesterday, so we'll see how that goes.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Sorry everyone, I haven't had time to try these methods yet. Family and work have taken over all my time. Once I'm able to invest time into this, I will update. Best. Dan.
 

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I have no advice because I am having the same issue with my dude, normally I like to play with another dog who fetches really well so when he doesnt bring it back or drops it somewhere the other dog can retrieve it and bring it back to me so I dont have to walk so much haha. I dont use his no reward marker cue (which is "eh eh") or react negatively in any way when he doesnt bring it back, because honestly, I am just happy he is at least chasing the ball haha.

I would try the pill bottle thing, but I have a funny feeling that he wouldnt have any interest in it, but I do have a chuckit whistler ball I could stuff treats into and use that perhaps? but knowing him he would just stop and try to get the treats out himself instead of bringing it to me, he LOVES puzzle toys and would probably just try to work it out himself LOL.

What I had marginal luck with is jackpotting him with treats when he brought the ball all the way back to me and just not giving him anything when he didnt, he still doesnt bring it back every time, but the percentage of times he did bring it back has increased LOL
 
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