Training the dog to fetch was easy ... getting her to come back?

… Not so much.

Three years ago I got the cat and the ex got the dog so this is an academic exercise. Just wondering what to do if I come across this again.

When I was living in Hawaii I picked up, at the Humane Society, what was known locally as a ‘poi dog’. I think Kelly was was some sort of Rott/terrier/greyhound mix. Great dog - got on famously with Dammit the cat. Came when called, sat when told to, went to her kennel upon command.

Then there was the fetch thing …

Would take her up to a deserted area on Oahu’s NW shore. When off a leash/line Kelly LOVED the water - she’d bodysurf three foot breakers if she saw someone FAKE a throw.

Problem was … when we actually threw something (always tons of driftwood up there - hell, the stupid mutt would chase rocks) she would enthusiastically go after and retrieve the object. If she couldn’t find it, she would follow hand motions/pointing til she located it (or a reasonable fascimile thereof). She’d then retrieve the object, run back towards the thrower, PASS the thrower, and deposit the thrown item not quite but almost exactly 20 feet from wherever the thrower was standing.


Tried the treat thing, but she could smell them in pockets and wouldn’t go near the fetching item when she knew the thrower had food. Tried to put her on a really long line to make her come back but she wouldn’t set foot in water while attached to a rope.

Like I said - this is a few years ago. The chances of finding another Kelly are slim to none, but if on the off chance I (or another board member) acquires a dog with this…quirk…how does one disabuse the dog of this really freakin’ annoying habit?

Of the hundreds of dogs I’ve known, I’ve never run across this quirk! I always figure that if a dog is doing something weird, the best way to train is to figure out the motivation. So if the dog wants you to “come fetch” :slight_smile: or chase her for the stick, just don’t play the game until she brings it right to you. If you go get it, you reinforce the behaviour.

Puppies are easy to train, especially with treats. I’ve had spoiled~rotten~weilers since 1986, they are smart, stubborn & not usually retrieving dogs. My current pup looks at me like “Well if you want it, why didja throw it away…you want me to do what?” Since I am working towards obedience titles with him, he had to know retrive. I used treats for a good recall (he is a support system for a stomach), have his “special” toy for the game, stop playing before he gets bored, etc.

Is a poi dog what the British call a lurcher? (Thats one word found in the Oxford doctionary, but not the Websters.)

Yup, Carina, tried that - made for a short game of fetch :stuck_out_tongue: Also tried leading her back to the stick, putting it back in her mouth, and rewarding her when she gave it to us. No joy.

Ah, well - thought with all the people on the boards someone would have seen something like this; guess she was really as weird as we thought :smiley:

As for ‘poi’ - Nope, nothing like a lurcher; just the Hawaiian term for mutt [sub]Or, as I like to call them, Humane Society Specials

We encounter this a lot in training service dogs. One of mine refused to fetch.

Does the dog play tug? If it does, teach it the “take” command, slowly. Whatever you do, don’t reward (accidentally or otherwise) the refused fetch.

Play tug with the dog indoors, in a safe place where you can throw the tug toy about 6 feet away from you. My dogs have a lot of play and prey drive, so they like to chase a toy I put on a rope and drag around the ground. Once the dog is really excited about it, throw it not too far, 6 ft is enough! If the dog goes to it and takes the toy SHUT UP - do not say anything. Turn your back on the dog and walk away from it. Oftentimes, they’ll wonder just what the hell you’re doing, and come after you… not realizing they have the toy in their mouth. When you hear the dog following you, and if it has the toy, take it from him/her and praise the shit out of it. Then, put the toy away. That toy now becomes a fetch training toy only. Do this once or twice a day. Start doing two throws instead of just one. If the dog fails to retrieve the object, ignore the dog. Sit on the floor, and put it on ignore until it shows interest in the toy, and in you… then repeat the exercise, making sure the dog is really enthusiastic about the toy… and if it fails, put the toy away, and don’t play with the dog for a few hours…

I’ve had a retriever who refused to fetch. He became a top-notch fetch and frisbee dog - so it can be done…

Start indoors, by all means. Outdoors = too many smells and interesting distractions…


Good luck with pooch!


Oh, and by all means, start this kind of retrieving training with a new dog - BEFORE you find out if it will fetch or not. Some are retrieving fiends, but part of the fun is retrieving up to 20ft away from you and then daring you to chase them.

It’s a game…

Before fetch becomes a fun game, it has to be taught correctly.

My non-fetching retriever now is a steady duck hunter, and hasn’t failed a retrieve since.


My first dog, a Schnoodle, loved tennis balls. She’d fetch a tennis ball for geologic epochs. After your arm went numb, and the swelling started getting worrysome, she’d change the game.


Wooo! Her second favorite game. You’d throw the tennis ball, like you’ve been doing since Thursday, and she’d bring it back, all nonchalant. When she’d get within grabbing distance, she’d whip around you and back off 6 feet. Then go into a play-bow and laugh at you.

“You can’t get me! You’re too slow!” she’d taunt. The bitch. CHASE THE DOG! was on. That dog was a stitch. The new dog just likes to eat tennis balls. And puke up the fuzz later.

This was like what chique brought up. Only different.