Odie will run after and pick up any object you throw. He'll also come back with the object in his mouth, but my problem is at the last second he'll almost always change direction or run past me in an effort to get me to chase him.
I never chase him. Instead I've been telling him to come. But more often or not, he'll drop the ball and come without it. Then I say "get the ball" And he'll go pick it up, drop it, and look at me looking for further instruction. I can't get it through his head that I want him to bring the ball all the way back to me.
I've tried giving him treats, but he catches on pretty quickly that there's a treat waiting for him, and he'll drop the ball halfway back looking for a treat. The treats take priority over the ball, and once treats are introduced to the game, he has no interest in playing anymore.
I need advice. It would be really nice to be able to wear him out in the back yard when I get home from work without so much frusteration on my part.
Do you have a hallway? We are having that same issue with Milly. What I do is close all the doors in the hallway, sit at the end and throw the ball and she has no option but to bring it back to me cause I'm blocking the other end of the hall - so it's almost like she can't go wrong?
When in the backyard I have a treat pouch that slips onto my pants and because both my hands are free I have more chance to rumble her up with the fetching object and my hands don't smell of treat. She struggles with fetch when treats are involved but once she does it a few times she brings it back and places the ball in my hand and looks up at me like she's saying "ok, treat mum I brought it back like you asked!" I still find that after she goes after the ball I have to yell "yay Milly great job woohoo" and then she is more likely to also come running back to me with the toy cause i'm making a commotion that I only make when she has done something good.
Introducing treats is really hard with fetch but Milly finally is getting it. Also maybe make the ball only go a small distance to start with so your puppy gets the idea and doesn't have to run too far away from you when you have treats?
I really hope this helps, i'm no expert... i'm just in the same boat as you!!
oh and another thing that has helped is teaching Milly "give" so when I throw the ball i say "Milly Fetch!" when she gets to the object I say "Milly Give!" she knows that Give means "give what you have to mum/dad" so she kinda has more opportunity to put two and two together.
I realize there are a lot of methods, but not all work for all dogs. I, like you, never had success using treats. Sounds like Odie has the drive to retrieve just fine, but lacks just a couple things to complete it. I don't know how old he is.
It sounds like you've got the right ideas in not chasing him. Have you tried running from him, or turning your back? Also, a VERY important thing is to NOT immediately grab at the object. Have him sit and keep his prize for a minute...then take it.
If he has a solid 'come', and a solid 'sit', would you be interested to teach the 'hold' and 'drop' command (away from retrieving. you start teaching this in your house) ? That, to me, is what is lacking in your retrieving, and can be tought very quickly and easily. Then you begin adding it in to your retrieves. I think you'd be surprised in the difference it makes.