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Vito is a horrible retriever. He never had much an interest in tennis balls (he never saw one until almost 1, due to being in the guide dog program). He will retrieve his flying squirrel, but gets EASILY distracted. He LOVES tug though, and will play in extremely an extremely high distraction environment. I want to use this to my advantage.

We have this awesome field next to us where a lot of people play fetch with their dogs. I have a dream, of an enthusiastic Vito chasing a tennis ball from a chuck it. Right now, he just chases the other dogs that are playing fetch, LOL.

So, today I start the journey to make Vito a retriever. :) In the house, I took a ball out and made that the best toy EVER. He retrieved in the house for a bit and we had fun. Every time he brought it back we played tug with it for a few minutes (is this okay?), and then I let him chew on it.

Eventually, he would drop the ball and grab a different toy. I ignored the other toy and went straight for the tennis ball, playing with it on my own. This grabbed his interest back in the ball for the most part.

So this is where we stand. Any techniques or help to get him reliably retrieving a ball would be great!

OH, and something else we need help with. Vito will drop the ball when I ask, but he thinks it's some kind of game. When I go to grab the ball, he will pick it up really quick! That booger! How can I get him to drop it and not pick it back up immediately? lol.
 

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I'll be watching this thread, neither of mine are big on retrieving.. Sam will sometimes do it a few times out in the yard, but he too gets easily distracted. Dillon will chase the ball too but I think he's mostly just running because Sam is.. he has never brought a ball back to me.. not even once!

Sam will fetch toys inside and bring them back to me again and again... it's just outside that he is too distracted to fetch for too long.
 

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I would work on what is easier for him right now, to build up the retrieve drive. Throw the Flying Squirrel and have him retrieve it to you--and have him give it to you to your hand. If he drops it, tell him to "pick it up" and keep pointing to the ground. Have some treats in your pocket to reward.

My Mac is a retrieving fool, but she's 20 months and is still in that easily distracted stage. I have a long lead and attached to the long lead (30 feet) she's much easier to control and will retrieve; at least that is what I used. My husband took her to the field without it a couple of times and she didn't listen to him and was flustered but he didn't want to use the lead--he finally did as a last resort and had a great time with her retrieving. He then went out with her last weekend and admittedly there weren't that many distractions, but he had her off lead and she was great, he said, and retrieved the ball and didn't want to stop. Hope this gives you some ideas.

We didn't have success with our first two goldens, now at the Bridge. Jake would run to the ball, look at it, turn around as if to say "you want me to bring this back to you? Nawwwwwww." Alli wouldn't run to the ball. She'd later find it in the yard and bring it, on her own terms, in her own time. Once, we got her to retrieve the ball 10 times in a row. But that was it. Mac's our retriever, no doubt.
 

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Since he likes to play tug, have you tried throwing a ball attached to a rope? It's a lot easier to play tug with a rope than just a ball. I have the opposite problem with Conner - he loves tennis balls but does not like to tug so I got one of the Kong tennis balls that squeaks with a rope through it.
 

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Vito is a horrible retriever. He never had much an interest in tennis balls (he never saw one until almost 1, due to being in the guide dog program). He will retrieve his flying squirrel, but gets EASILY distracted. He LOVES tug though, and will play in extremely an extremely high distraction environment. I want to use this to my advantage.

We have this awesome field next to us where a lot of people play fetch with their dogs. I have a dream, of an enthusiastic Vito chasing a tennis ball from a chuck it. Right now, he just chases the other dogs that are playing fetch, LOL.

So, today I start the journey to make Vito a retriever. :) In the house, I took a ball out and made that the best toy EVER. He retrieved in the house for a bit and we had fun. Every time he brought it back we played tug with it for a few minutes (is this okay?), and then I let him chew on it.

Eventually, he would drop the ball and grab a different toy. I ignored the other toy and went straight for the tennis ball, playing with it on my own. This grabbed his interest back in the ball for the most part.

So this is where we stand. Any techniques or help to get him reliably retrieving a ball would be great!

OH, and something else we need help with. Vito will drop the ball when I ask, but he thinks it's some kind of game. When I go to grab the ball, he will pick it up really quick! That booger! How can I get him to drop it and not pick it back up immediately? lol.


Personally I wouldn't have him drop it, but bring it right to you to your hand(s)...

If the objects you want him to retrieve are tennis balls...then dont leave them down all the time...keep up and keep them special.

Carrying is a big part of the retrieve pictures...make sure he gets to walk and run with his ball in his mouth too! You can run along beside him...call him to you while you take steps and back up etc...
 

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be careful what you wish for-i have a "nutcase" of retrieving tennis balls . We don't even do #2 without. lol
 

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Wonderful advice!!

I will start having him retrieve to hand.
So, I went out and bought a squeaky tennis ball (his fav) attached to a rope. HE LOVES IT! However, when I throw it, he starts coming back to me but veers off! How can I get him to reliably bring it to me? If I call him, he drops the toy and comes running. :doh:
 

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Macallan is fairly good at retrieving. He will ALWAYS go after a ball or stick. 9 times out of 10 he comes back with it but often will run around me hoping i will chase him for it. If i have another ball or stick, he will drop what he has and wait for me to throw the one in my hand. sometimes he will drop it too far away and i'll tell him "here" or "closer" (pointing at my feet) and he'll pick it up and bring it closer.

I've actually got him to the point where he'll bring the ball right to my hand, however he won't always let go and he'll try to play tug. I can alway get the ball away from him, by holding the ball while its in his mouth and gently press down on him bottom teeth, he will then let go, back up and wait for me to throw again.

we play fetch in the house as well. while i sit on the couch watching tv he will bring his ball over and drop it in my lap or next to me. i toss it across the room and he goes after it. catch is a game he loves also. i'll hold the ball up and mock throw it and he backs up. he's gotten really good at catch too. he could play short stop. one time he kind of pissed me off with insesently wanting to play while i was watching tv, so I pitched the ball right at his head. and in one deft move he caught it and gave this look like "What?!! That all you got?"

The ball is his life it seems sometimes. It doesn't matter what he's involved in. i could be eating a steak and if he's bugging me i say "where's your ball" then he'll look at me confused for a hot second and then go off in seach of his ball. and sure enough he comes back with it... or something else he wants to play with. i think "ball" has become synonomis with "toy"

The absolute best ball i've found is a street hockey ball. everything else he destroys... tennis balls don't have a chance, baseballs he loves but rips those apart also. he'll lay on his back and hold to ball up with his front paws and let the ball roll up his arms and then he lets go and with catch it in his mouth. thats one of the best things about macallan is how he can keep himself entertained for hours... and entertain me as well with his antics and games.

getting your golden good at fetch and retriving is just a matter of doing it A LOT. its bred into them. it natural for them to want to fetch. now as for feild training, i think that's a whole different thing. but just for play, it can be hours of fun and great excersise too.
 

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I have that same dream, Nicole! LOL. Hey remember how we kept trying to throw the ball to have Vito and Gibson fetch but neither paid any attention...?

If I can change one thing about Gibby, it would be to have him be one of those "fetch til you drop" type dogs. Gibby has never been that dog, but we've gotten to the point where we can fool a stranger into thinking Gibby might be that dog, if the person only watched us for like 3 minutes. :p::p:

Gibby will still get distracted by a smell and start running around tracking the smell or marking over other dogs' pee spots sometimes, instead of playing ball. He's still intact and has always been a sniffy dog. But he has been retrieving a lot more consistently and with more enthusiasm lately. This took A LOT of effort to get him even this far.

What helped us the most was to... 1) only start the game when he's in a high energy, playful mode. 2) put him on a long line at first, to control him better when he'd get distracted by a smell. we don't need the long line anymore but we still don't play in heavy distraction areas where a bunch of dogs are off leash or something like that. 3) have one of two special balls (in our case, a high density rubber ball and a lighted ball for night) that I only bring out for our fetch sessions. 4) get him SUPER excited in the ball by teasing him with it, showing it to him only to throw it to my husband instead, or throwing the ball while my husband restrains him and I run and get the ball instead, screaming like an idiot. 5) throw the ball, run after it with him, letting him get it and when he does, I run like crazy back to our original position as he tries to beat me there. 6) play tug with the ball for a bit when he brings it back. 7) varying HOW I throw the ball. sometimes I throw it low to the ground so it bounces low and/or slides across. sometimes I'll throw it in the air or against a wall, let it bounce and have him catch in the air. 8) I randomly throw in a rocket recall right as he picks up the ball and turns back to me, to get him to run back to me quicker. 9) randomly dispense treats when he brings the ball back to me. 10) keep the fetch sessions only 2-3 times at first and slowly building up, but ALWAYS quitting and putting away the ball while he still wants more.

I never just throw the ball and just stand there. I don't have to run after the ball with him anymore and I am toning down my cheering now that he seems to get excited by the game alone, but I still keep it very very upbeat. I randomly make stomping sounds behind him as he runs after the ball so he thinks I'm coming after it, too, and he gets all competitive. I don't think Gibby will ever become what you call "ball obsessed" but he does enjoy his daily short fetch sessions (we only still go 6-7 times across the big field but that's more exercise for the dog than you'd think) and I hope he'll be even more into it when he gets neutered and (hopefully) less interested in dog pee smells...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you Kris!! I JUST saw this post. It has been a crazy past few days. But, you gave me some wonderful advice.

Well, all the tennis balls have been up for a few days. Vito is getting more and more excited when I bring out THE special ball. We play fetch with it probably 3x a day. He is fetching at about 85% reliably in the house! I'm waiting to take it outdoors, on long lead though until we get to 100% inside.
 

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I guess I got lucky my Bailey just retreived the first time I threw a stick for her and she brought it right back and droped it at my feet and will do it for as long as I threw it for her. mind you it took me a long time to house train her some things come fast (tricks) and simple comands she has a hard time with it.
 
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