Why Wont My Dog Play Fetch Anymore

why wont my dog play fetch

One of the classic highlights of owning a dog is to play games with them like fetch. It great to see your dog sprint after something with them eagerly bring it back to you. What do you do when your dog won’t play fetch anymore and what is the reason for it?

Dogs stop playing Fetch because they get bored of doing the same thing over and over again. Try making your games of Fetch more interesting by using different types of objects or walking along whilst throwing.

Boredom is the most likely reason for your dog’s sudden dislike for the game of Fetch. However, there can be other reasons why and things you can do to encourage them to get back to playing the game, you both love.


Do Dogs Enjoy Playing Fetch?

Playing fetch is a popular pastime for dogs and owners alike. Most dogs will love to play fetch purely because they enjoy interacting with you, their beloved owner. It’s probably true that dogs will enjoy any sort of game you play with them.

Because of its relation to the wilder side of dogs, Fetch becomes a very attractive game. Many prey-hunting animals have a strong urge to chase anything that runs from them this is called “prey drive”. You may sometimes see your dogs chasing cars or bikes, as an example, I have seen my Golden Retriever chase a cat, get to it and then freeze not knowing what to do. I like to think he questioned why he had chased the cat in the first place, not realizing it is the prey drive that controls so many animals’ instincts.

So of course dogs enjoy playing Fetch because it allows them to chase something and catch it with instant pride. To be honest you could throw anything and a dog will most likely chase it, although some breeds are more willing to chase than others we will get to that later.

Dog Smelling Flowers

Do Dogs Ever Get Tired Of Playing Fetch?

Despite dogs loving the game of Fetch, they can become tired of the game. This can happen for a few reasons, including exhaustion, boredom, and distraction. For some extra information on managing your dog’s energy levels have a look at this article I wrote on “Does Walking Your Dog Make Them Tired”


Exhaustion can easily come about if you have played Fetch for longer than your dog’s energy levels dictate. Older dogs may become exhausted quicker than younger ones and some younger dogs may exert themselves so much they end up becoming exhausted too. Try giving your dog some breaks, instead of constantly putting them through the throwing and retrieving process. If you’re wondering how much exercise to give your dog every day, check out this article where I have compiled some information on how to structure your dog’s exercise. 


It’s not unusual for dogs to get bored of the same repetitive tasks. This is one of the reasons we encourage you to mix up your dog’s daily walk, check out our article on “Do Dogs Get Bored Of The Same Walk”.

Although you’re unlikely to see your dog entering a chess competition, their brain is a hive of activity. Keeping your dog mentally engaged as well as physically is so important. Try to make Fetch a bit different from standing in one spot throwing a ball and having them retrieve it. An easy way to do this is by continuing your walk. Throwing the ball for your dog whilst you walk will give them different environments and allow them to investigate different smells. Changing the item you throw can also have a big influence on boredom, making your dog want what you are throwing because it’s new and different from what they usually have to chase.


Given the right environment, your dog is most likely engaged with what you are doing. Distractions come in many forms especially when out on a walk. Playing Fetch while other dogs are around may become difficult for a few reasons. Firstly you may find other dogs become interested in the ball or item you are throwing, this will either cause an argument between the two dogs or your dog may back off if they are less dominant in that situation. At this point, it’s up to the other owner to take their dog away from the area or tell them to leave the ball.

The other scenario is that your dog becomes more interested in playing with their fellow species than chasing the ball you threw. I wouldn’t worry about this as most dogs will find the company of other dogs the most fun. So as long as your dog is having a good time, you won’t have to read too much into why they don’t want to play Fetch.

Why Does My dog Drop the Ball away from Me?

The reason your dog is dropping the ball away from you is that they want you to come to them. This is not because they want to be in charge, it is most likely because they want to play a different game involving you chasing them. 

Stoping your dog from dropping the ball away from you is going to take time and patience with training. Although most dogs will have the urge to bring the ball back to you this may only happen a few times and without appropriate training, they will often stop doing this when they start to get bored.

Other reasons involve exhaustion and it may be a sign that your dog has had enough. they know if they bring the ball back to you they will inevitably have to run and get it again. Check out the video below for some cool tips on training your dog to fetch and ball and bring it back to you every time.

Is Playing Fetch Bad For Dogs?

Playing Fetch is not bad for your dog, in fact, it is one of the best games for you and your dog to play. As well as providing physical exercise for your dog it also gives your pooch some need mental stimulation. try walking along whilst playing Fetch to make the game more interesting. 

Despite the many positive effects that Fetch has, there can be times when you should refrain from playing the game. If your dog has a physical issue or is recovering from a wound then fetch may not be the best game to play. This is due to the fats sprint and sudden stops your dog will usually do whilst playing. Dogs tend to stretch their bodies more during Fetch and so any stitches or wounds could damage during the activity.

How long can a dog play fetch?

The length of time you should play Fetch with your dog will depend on the breed you have and their age. Younger more athletic dogs could most likely play for hours, providing they are out of their growth stage. Older dogs could cause themselves harm if they were to play for too long and so limiting the time to under 1 hour should be advised. 

This information is based on my own experiences and it will be up to you to determine what your dog can take. Perfectly healthy older dogs can run for hours on end and be fine the next day. Having a good bed is important as your dog gets older. Memory foam dog beds provide some of the best support and can help reduce the impact of exercise on older dogs.

What is the best dog to play fetch with?

Younger dogs will perform best and those breeds with more athletic ability, such as greyhounds, border collies, springer spaniels, and any retrieving breed.  

As highlighted above older dogs will require a careful eye to determine whether they are struggling with the game of fetch. there are plenty of other games that won’t overexert them and that they will enjoy just as much. Have a look at this article I wrote on some of the best games to play whilst walking your dog. Smaller dogs will also struggle to retrieve balls and other toys when thrown too far, it’s also important for small dogs to think about the size of the toy they have to carry back.

What Is The Best Item To throw For Your Dog?

In most cases, owners will throw a tennis ball for their dog when playing the game of Fetch. Tennis balls are an obvious choice, being a ball, cheap, bouncy, and easy for your dog to hold. Although dogs will often chase a tennis ball you should think about what your dog loves the most when choosing toys.

If your dog is drawn more towards stick-shaped items you may find they have a higher prey drive for this type of toy than a tennis ball. Of course, balls are easier to throw, in which case I would suggest getting a ball more suited to the job. The Chuckit series of balls are great for playing Fetch, as they bounce well and travel far, although the downside is that dogs tend to drop the ball when they sense something else more interesting. If you do not watch them you could end up losing it and have to buy another one, it will be up to you to determine how much your trust your dog to bring the ball back.

Fluffy toys can also be a good thing to throw for your dog as they will enjoy retrieving their favorite toys. However fluffy toys as you can imagine are not the best items to throw. I see lots of owners throwing frisbees for their dogs although mine will not pick up a frisbee as I don’t think he likes how it feels to carry. You can get rubber frisbees or ones with less of an edge to them and as I haven’t tested all of them I would not be able to say whether my dog would be willing to carry one.

tennis balls


There are a few reasons why your dog won’t play Fetch anymore and it will be up to you to make it more exciting for them. My best suggestion would be to walk along whilst playing Fetch as I think this provides the most mental stimulation, with the ever-changing environment. Hopefully, you enjoyed this post and if you want to learn more about getting outside with your pooch, check out our homepage for more great articles.

Dean Lissaman

As a child I grew up around dogs and have loved them ever since. I now have a beloved Golden Retriever who enjoys exploring the outside world. Being an outdoor enthusiast has inspired me to create the ultimate resource on relating both dogs and the outdoors. For more information on me check out my about page.

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