Retrieving problem


New Member
Hi all,

I have been working with my dog Emma for the last probably 6 solid months on retrieving. She was doing GREAT. Every time I threw a training dummy for her, no matter where it was, she would find and retrieve.. Water, Land, you name it, she would go get it and bring it to my hand. I did multiple dog training a few months back and if she didn't make it to the dummy first, she would follow the other dog back and if it happened to drop the dummy, Emma would pick it up and bring it to my hand. It was like a dream, everything I could ask for.

About 3 weeks ago she stopped. She will run hard for the dummy, and stop at it and sometimes sit there, just waiting... She will retrieve dummy's thrown and drop them short by as much as 25 yards, or as little as 5 feet. She rarely brings items to hand anymore. She leaves dummies in the field, and I just can't figure it out.

I took a 2 week break from any training whatsoever to see if she was being overworked.. Nothing changed, still the same..

I am stopping today from any advanced training and am going to work on the basics.. Sit, wait, get, bring here.. Only at about 10 feet and in the comfort of my own home using a clicker.

Any suggestions here? Is my dog just in a stage in her life where she is rebelling me? I've heard dogs can be difficult in their "teenage" years, but I just don't understand how she can go from never miss, to never hit.. Any comments or questions I will love to hear/answer, but mostly thoughts on what is causing this, and most importantly, if I can be overcome.



Well-Known Member
How old is she now? That really sounds like 'teen' stuff to me...

Sounds like you are doing the right things to remediate - took a break for a couple weeks and now starting back at the basics.

I wonder, how did you treat/reward her when you first started teaching a formal retrieve? When training my dogs and service dogs I've noticed that I can get a much more reliable retrieve and bring to my hand when the reward is for the 'give'... I don't care where it was, as long as it gets to the right place...
One way of teaching that is to trade food for the item, but the food is from your hand (not thrown) and only is given when the object has been released into your hand.

Some other possible issues come to mind:

- Is there a part of the sequence that she doesn't like is is suddenly uncomfortable? For example, does she not like sitting and is therefore avoiding the end where she knows she should sit in front of you?
- Does she have a tooth problem that hurts when she holds the dummy?
- Does she not like to 'hold' the dummy, but will be fine if you take it as soon as she gets back to you?


New Member
She is 10 months tomorrow, the 15th.

I started out wayyyyy back and would give a 'sit', 'wait', command.. Throw the item across the room, usually towards her bed so it had a soft landing.. I would give an "okay, get your.... _____". She would get it, bring it right back, no hesitation, and bring it to my hand which I had in a palm open position at her mouth level. She would drop it in my hand usually, and if not I would take a hold of the item and say drop. She then released immediately.

We then moved outside with it to a large area for dogs in my city. I used a training dummy and threw it. If I gave her a sit/wait command she would go when I said "okay, get the bird". Or if I didn't give a sit-wait, she would take off when I threw the item. Bring it RIGHT back, straight to hand. I started off giving a click/treat upon full return, and then just bring a handful of treats now and give her some upon the CORRECT retrieval.

Nothing has changed at all really. The only thing that has changed is it is nicer out and she learned to swim this year. I was doing water retrieves less than a month ago and she was doing fine, then she started dropping short and looking at me, sometimes doing a little more "playing" with the item than usual, but she doesn't do that out of the water.

I doubt there is a problem with any specific part of it like a sit or whatnot, but I will check the teeth. Come to think of it she hasn't been eating properly lately.. Sometimes she will just look at the food and not want some, in which I pick it up and feed later, and sometimes she eats the whole bowl.. I thought she was being picky, but maybe there is a tooth problem.

I note on this, Emma is not spayed, and all of this started (the poor retrieves and picky eating) after she finished her first heat.

She chews on hard bones all the time though, so I can't see it being a sore tooth.. I would think she would avoid hard items like nylabones.


New Member
hmm.. a puzzler...

my $.02 (and it is work less, as I am just starting to get a "good" retrieve out of my dog - WITHOUT using the collar, for those of you watching the other thread! <jab jab! grin grin>): I don't look my boy in the eye, and he brings it right to my hand. Looking him in the eye is a "reward" and he stops doing what he is doing when he wants, feeling he has earned his praise.

Just a thought.


New Member
Good thought. Sometimes she gets on the dummy and sits down next to it though... But I will try some short retrieves with my back turned. Thanks for the advice.


New Member
I mentioned that my dog was giving me problems eating.. Not wanting to eat basically. After yoyopoodle mentioned that there might be a mouth issue or tooth issue based on my short dropped retrieves, anything along those lines, I tried softening up my dogs hard kibble with warm water. She has scarfed down every bite every time I've fed her since.. This is leading me to believe there might be a mouth issue. Is there anything I personally can check? If there is something for sure I will take Emma to the vet, but I just hate spending $100-200 for them to diagnose something that can be fixed with something simple.


New Member
Lift her lips and look for inflamed gums-- it's unusual for a dog as young as her to have gingivitis, but that's the leading cause of mouth and teeth problems in dogs.
Treatment for that would be antibiotics followed by a professional cleaning (most vets do them in-house nowadays) and semi-daily or weekly brushing done by you (which we should all be doing anyway, lol).

Also look for broken teeth (more likely in young, goofy, energetic dogs)-- compare each tooth with the corresponding one on the opposite side of the mouth (i.e. compare bottom left canine with bottom right canine, left top first premolar with right top first premolar, etc.).
Treatment for this would be either capping the tooth (for minor break), removal of the tooth, or depending on whether there's infection or not and exactly how the tooth broke, possibly a root canal.

There is a chance that it is something immensely simple-- like something caught between her teeth, but really, unless you can see something that you can obviously fix yourself, you'll probably have to take her to the vet anyway.

Infections in the mouth are serious-- bacteria can enter the bloodstream by being swallowed and can cause liver and kidney disease and failure. Be sure not to wait too long to figure out what's up-- if you've ever had a toothache, you know YOU'd like it seen to today! lol
Good luck! :dogsmile:


New Member
Have you tried doing fun retrieves, such as the two toys game, with nothing formal in it? Have you tried using something different other than a dummy such as a tennis ball.
Another thing I did with one of my dogs was I would get her food bowl out in the morning, but she had to do a retrieve before she got fed.


New Member
I have used other items for retrieves, but still the same result.. She is bringing it the full distance to hand sometimes, but most of the time she stops short, or just stops at the item and looks back. She absolutely LOVES retrieving, so I can't see it as being not so "fun" for her. Any time I get an object out to throw she starts going crazy. I've recently gone out and tried the method of not making eye contact while she was bringing the item back, and that seemed to work better than anything else I've tried... I just can't figure out why she went from 100% of the time bringing everything straight back to my hand and holding until I said drop, to not even picking items up sometimes, and most of the time if she does, drops short.. It's frustrating, and boggles my mind...