My 10 month old male wont retrieve. When playing ball he will sit and wait until I throw it and run it down. He will then turn around and run back to me but won't bring the ball. What can I do to get him to actually bring it back?
Thanks in advance!
Contrary to popular belief not ALL Labs are retrieving machines. Your dog is still young so there is hope as it sounds has some interest. Can you keep the object you want him to retrieve on a long line so it is easy to reel it in? Keep very high value treats available so if/when he does begin to respond you can make a huge fuss and treat for the desired behaviour. Sometimes just switching items you want him to retrieve helps also. If all else fails perhaps you just have a Lab who is just not interested and there is nothing wrong with that. He may "grow" in to this or he may not, as stated above, he is still young and is easily distracted. You can also search for help with this issue on the forum, I have seen this issue addressed several times previously and perhaps there are other ideas that that can help you. Good luck!
Last edited by tammyhuffman; 05-11-2013 at 08:28 AM.
Maxx & Emma Jean
Ozzy - 10/16/02 - 06/28/11 - Always in my heart.
Sometimes the hardest part isn't letting go - but learning to start over.
My Jax used to do this as well... I just repeatedly kept telling him 'bring it' and even when i would go get it id be telling him 'bring it' and one day he just understood. Now he is a fetching / retrieving machine and loves the game. Even catches the frisbee in the air and brings it back to my feet and drops it. (the drop it command was another struggle with him but eventually he got it).
Finlay was like this- but it also was about only asking him to retrieve when i knew he would do it in the first instance- so for example i didnt play the game until he got bored of it- when he was younger i might only do it once or twice- and gradually increased that. He's 9 months old now- and can play fetch but still has moments where he goes after say 7 or 8 throws- 'fine I have it now why should i bring it back to you!?' So its about him not getting bored with the game and always want him to play it more and then you stop it- so he associated the behaviour of the game and not it ending with him getting to keep the toy. When you decide its the last throw- get another toy to exchange it when he does bring it back- then swap it and give loads of fuss! He can run off with that one- because its a different game!
For teaching retrieving, I'll copy/paste below a post I've frequently made.
Many people assume that a Lab should retrieve automatically, without training.
While SOME Labs do, probably the majority need some training to retrieve.
Chasing after a moving object is native and instinctual for almost all dogs but the bringing it back to someone and giving it up is not, so that part of retrieving often needs training.
However, for many Labs, once they learn to retrieve, it's frequently the thing they most enjoy in life and they'll often have an endurance for fetching far greater than that of the arm of the person throwing the object.
That's not bad because most Labs need a lot of daily vigorous exercise to be docile and civil. "Fetch" is a wonderful way of meeting most of those needs.
However, a few Labs become too obsessed with retrieving and need to have limits imposed.
And a very few get EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse) and become weak and shaky; this is a genetic fault of a few Labs and was investigated by a consortium of US & Canadian Vet colleges. The Labrador Retriever Club's website has a section on this (behavior, symptoms, recommended treatment) if you're interested.
Teaching to retrieve --
For a puppy, if you have a blind hallway, you can start by rolling a ball or toy down the hall toward the blind end. The pup will run after it and has no choice but to come back to you. At that time, praise, and exchange a treat or a bit of kibble for the ball/toy along with more praise. (It's helpful to pre-measure your pup's next meal and use some of that kibble for treats. That's a help in not over-feeding.)
Repeat 2-3 times. ALWAYS QUIT WHILE IT'S STILL FUN AND INTERESTING TO YOUR PUP/DOG.
I didn't have a blind hallway and we used a 25 foot/8 m. kite string tied to a rubber toy dumbbell.
We went out in the front yard and I'd throw it in first one direction, holding on to the bitter end (i.e., the non-toy end) of the line. Puff went after it and when she picked up the toy, I reeled back both Puff and the toy she was holding, praised her, and gave a treat in exchange for the toy. You might also say, "__(name)__, Give!" at the time you're offering the treat and getting the toy delivered to your hand. Then you'll be teaching another VERY useful command: ("Give!").
I threw it in a different direction next time. Repeated as above.
You do need to vary the directions you throw it and the locations you use because young dogs can easily (too easily) become site-specific in their learning.
E.g., a woman 5-6 years ago on JL complained that her Lab would retrieve when she sat in a particular chair in her living room and threw a toy from there but would not retrieve any place else. When you vary the locations and directions it helps them easily learn to generalize.
ALWAYS KEEP THE RETRIEVING FUN, NEVER WORK.
If your pup's enthusiasm starts lagging after 5 trials, drop to 3 or 4 the next time you try it. If it lags after 3 trials, drop to one for awhile until the interest and enthusiasm builds up.
If you train just before normal feeding time, your pup's motivation for food will be higher and pieces of kibble exchanged for the toy will have greater reward effect.
As your pup learns to retrieve and enjoys it, you can gradually increase the # of trials.
When you switch from fetching a toy to a training dummy, I prefer the 2" x 12" Lucky Dog (brand) vinyl training dummies. I've found them cheapest at gundogsupply.com's website -- a little less than $4 @.
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
I'm not sure I understand. Do you mean he picks the ball up but won't bring it back to you? Or do you mean he runs to the ball but won't pick it up? The way you worded it I'm thinking the latter, in which case my only thought is to wonder if there is a tooth problem?
My boy was the former. As a fellow frustrated field hopeful put it, he'd "treive" just fine, it was the "re" part he wouldn't do. I found my remedy on a U.K. gundog site. It's like the throwing in a different direction mentionned above but it's specifically the OPPOSITE direction. The person called it North/South fetching.
Two balls, throw one S. as soon as he gets it and looks up wing the other one N. He has to run by you to get it and this plants in his brain that coming back your way at all gets another throw. Throw fast, throw far, throw exactly the opposite direction. Don't worry about where the S. ball ends up when he goes for the N. ball. You go get it as quick as you can. Go at his speed and morph a delay in. You have to be the judge of when but you should be able to build in a pause where you get the first ball back. I should have noted, he should already know how to do a GIVE to you. I didn't mind the ball being dropped but I want him to give it to my hand. My boy "got" this in 10 throws. By throw 8 I was only throwing one ball. The next day I asked for formal delivery to hand and got it. Quit while he is still hot to go.