My dog won't fetch or play with toys

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Let me in your- bed, it's- thundering!
Barked: Sat Aug 4, '07 2:57am PST 
I have a lab/border-collie mix, but he does not chew toys or play fetch. If I throw a ball he stares at me, and if I put a frisbee/toy/ball in his mouth, he does not take it.

He does chase rabbits, so I bought a life-lke AKC stuffed toy. . . but he ignores it too.

Is there a way to teach him to fetch?

Edited by author Sat Aug 4, '07 2:58am PST

Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
Barked: Sat Aug 4, '07 3:21am PST 
How long have you had him? From his page, it looks like you may have gotten him recently, as an adult? If that's correct, he's probably never had toys or anyone who wanted to play with him. Addy was like that--although, at just a year old, she had a lot more puppy in her still, and she hadn't been physically neglected to the extent that you describe, she clearly hadn't received love, affection, playtime, and toys.

I started by finding the right chewtoys for her, which turned out to be a beef bone and a Kong stuffed with liver paste or cream cheese. I also found her a stuffy that she seemed to find comforting to have in her crate.

When she was playing with those, I got a ball--and played with it myself, in front of her. Gradually she got interested. Then I started rolling the ball. At first she was interested only when it was moving, and lost interest when it stopped, but after a while she started picking it up--still had no idea what to do from there.

BUT, I'd also been teaching her "come" along with other basic obedience.

I started throwing the ball and saying "Fetch!" and when she picked it up, I'd say "Come!" And it didn't take too long before she got the idea, and now she has several different toys, including a squeaky, that I can throw for her and she'll bring back, eager to have it thrown again, without my having to call her back.

It took some patience--and part of it was that she had to learn to trust me enough to relax and have fun, rather than just figuring out my commands. If I've interpreted your dog's history correctly, it may take him longer, because he's had so long to learn that humans aren't fun and aren't trustworthy. But hang in there! You, and he, can do it!

I'm not a shih- tzu i'm a border- collie!
Barked: Sat Aug 4, '07 4:41am PST 
I have a Border Collie (ish) and i adopted her at 10 months old. She was an abuse/neglect case and had no idea what toys where or what to do with them. I made her playing w/ toys important thing to do... so i spent a lot of time playing with her toys and playing with my other pup. eventually the fun got the better of her and she chased after a ball...she didn't bring it back or pick it up but i praised like crazy and things sort of improved from that initial chase.....then she started to play with tennis balls...and i found a soft toy that had a tennis ball attached so played w/ her w/ that toy and then just plain stuffed toys. It took about 3 months of me playing by myself w/ her toys or her brother playing before she took the first step to play....

The suggestions to put a Kong w/ peanut butter/other treats inside is one that i used also...but my pup is super food motivated. The other thing i thought about was since you have a border collie mix, i would try maybe getting that look-a-like toy and tying a rope (maybe leash) around it and pulling it ... this may make your pup's drive to kick in and he may give chase... when he does let him catch it and praise him like he just did the best thing ever!


Maggie- Big Momma
Barked: Sat Aug 4, '07 4:57am PST 
When we adopted Maggie last summer at age 7, she also had no idea what to do with toys. That is so sad. She now has a basket full of them...her favorite is a large set of car keys...she takes them everywhere! She still, however, will not chase a ball. She will chase her sister Molly while Molly chases the ball, but she won't chase it herself or pick it up . Someday maybe...

I like wet, fowl- smelling things
Barked: Sat Aug 4, '07 5:19am PST 
On thing you may try is to throw the ball a short distance (you can even do this in the house) and then you run after it and get it. Chances are after a couple of times Rolie will get interested in the game and chase you or run with you or eventually try to get the ball before you do. I think once you get him going a little the Lab (retriever) part of him will kick in.

Heck with Nick, from the time he was a baby you couldn't even throw a soda can into the trash, you had to place it in. If he saw the object and the movement he would try to retrieve it, bol!

Let me in your- bed, it's- thundering!
Barked: Sat Aug 4, '07 9:58am PST 
WOW thanks for the quick and helpful tips everybody! What a cool site!

Barked: Sat Aug 4, '07 1:26pm PST 
You can get a lead and tie it onto the toy (a ball on rope, etc), then drag the toy by the lead, so it is alive and more interesting and see if you will start to play with it like that at first.

Play with me!- Play with me!
Barked: Sat Aug 4, '07 1:33pm PST 
We got Allie at 8wks from the shelter, and we've had her for over a year. She won't fetch--she will chase, but somewhere between her starting point and where the ball/stick/frisbee lands, she loses interest. However, if there is a moth or some kind of bug, she will chase that relentlessly until she kills it (and then she eats it). Some dogs just won't fetch... you mentioned that your pup chases rabbits. I think for Allie, and possibly your pup, she has no interest in inanimate objects. She's thinking, "Why would I want to hunt that? It's just a ball..." But with live things (ie moths for Allie, rabbits for you) it's a challenge, and it's something more exciting than a ball. smile

It may not have anything to do with training or past experiences... it may just be a personal preference.

Barked: Sat Aug 4, '07 1:38pm PST 
When my mom adopted a black lab from the Humane society she had the same problem. Cinder(the lab) had no idea what a toy was let alone that it was something to play with. After trying to get her to play with toys we found out that the best way to get her interested was to play with a toy with our mom's other dog Rosie. She thought she was missing out on something and Rosie taught her how to play with toys. Now she will play with toys as if she always knew how. Do you have any dog friends that your pup can play with to learn how to play with toys?

Let me in your- bed, it's- thundering!
Barked: Tue Aug 14, '07 2:55am PST 
Unfortunately, Rolie does not get along with other dogs AT ALL. He is the sweetest with people, but even hearing a nother dog makes him wimper and bark loudly/meanly.
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