My Spaniel Refuses to retrieve

by Sasha
(South Africa)

I know this probably sounds really weird but, my Springer refuses to bring back any item I throw. In other words he won't Fetch, at all.

I do obedience with him and have done it since he was a puppy. We also do agility once a week. I have tried everything, using a long rope and gently pulling him towards you, using two identical toys and throwing them in alternating directions almost like a relay. Throwing it and running the opposite way while calling him.Enthusiastic calling, taking the toy away when he doesn't listen (which really didn't work).

He will give me anything I ask when I'm standing next to him. He will pick up toys and give them to me when its no more than about 2 meters from me (I have tried to increase the distance slowly but when i get further than 3 meters no matter how slowly I try to do it he doesn't fetch it).

He loves to run after things I throw but he will pick it up and go find a place to lie down and start chewing it. When I then call him he will drop the toy and come (his recall is 100% and I do know to not use the "Fetch" and "Come" command for the same thing but doesn't matter which one I use he will come to me without the toy). He does carry toys around though and he will bring me a toy when I'm sitting somewhere like when he was a puppy but once I've thrown it, all bets are off and he will not come back to me with the toy in his mouth.

Everyone said he will do it naturally because he is a retrieving breed but so far no luck. He is 20 months old and I've been trying to teach him to fetch since I got him and nothing. He is very smart and excels in everything else I have taught him.

This letter might be long but I'm hoping maybe someone knows of another method I can try. If I thought for one second he didn't enjoy it I'd leave it, but he gets excited when I have a toy in my hands and you can see the joy when he chases after it, and there is nothing like his joyful face when he gallops back to me with his ears flapping as if he is a bought to lift off, so I really don't understand why I can't seem to get him to put the two together and fetch properly.


Hi Sasha
I can understand all your frustrations as you are doing all the right things. I had a springer that used to do the same when I was a child, but one thing that worked with my current springer was that when he showed that type of behaviour I would turn and walk away as if to say "end of playtime" if you do that. However when they do retrieve you reward them with more retrieving.

Sorry I can't give you more than that. I aleo hope that other members can give you some advice as well.

Good luck

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Mar 02, 2011
by: Anonymous

Hi my springer is only 7 months old but he used to have the same problem when he was younger. I used to make it a game. Id hold the ball in my hand and kind of tease him by not letting him have it and shaking it in front of him. When he reali wanted to get it id throw it a short distance and he'd run after it, although his problem now is bringing it back ! lol . Make it fun and enjoyable springers are bored easily!

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