4 min read


Why Dogs Like Fetch



4 min read


Why Dogs Like Fetch




A lot of dogs like to fetch things. You can throw a ball, a stick, whatever and as long as you keep doing it, they'll go chasing after it and with their tail wagging, retrieve it. Some dogs love to fetch so much they could happily do it all day and even though your arm might be dropping off from the exertion, they'll still not be tired but rather sit there begging for you to do it all over again. For some dogs fetch is more than fun and games, it's a job albeit a job they enjoy and execute without to much stress and strain. They'd probably do it from nine till five if they had the chance and then get in some overtime without even blinking an eyelid or running out of breath. That's how much a dog likes to fetch.

Does your dog drive you crazy because he loves to fetch things?

The Root of the Behavior

Playing fetch with your dog is much more than just great exercise for the both of you. While you're playing throw and bring back with him, you're incrementing his natural instincts. Dogs like playing fetch because it satisfies their need to be useful. In your dog's mind, he's not just bringing you a ball, he's catching and bringing back food for the pack. Dogs are communal animals but more than that they're natural hunters. They love to sniff out things then take them back to share with the rest of who they class as their gang. Your dog sees you as the pack leader and every time he plays fetch, he's bringing you an offering and acknowledging the fact you're in charge. Rather than you just dishing out his daily biscuits, by playing fetch, you're satisfying his need to provide for you.

Dogs often appear to be just lazing around having a sneaky quick nap here and there as if that was all they ever wanted to do. In reality, dogs much prefer to be running around and to be kept fully occupied. Hitting the local park for a session of playing fetch is, without a doubt, your dog's idea of the perfect type of canine entertainment. All that stamina he's storing up in his body has got to be let loose somewhere and playing fetch is the ideal way to do it. Dogs love to chase things, often things they shouldn't, so playing fetch will help him control any urge he might have to run after the neighbor's cat. Do you praise your dog when he retrieves something? Of course, you do. Every time he receives accolades for what he's done, he'll be more than content to do it again. He loves the praise you give him when he returns whatever it was you threw and as long as he's got your attention, he'll keep doing it.

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Encouraging the Behavior

The fact that your dog likes to fetch is something which you can take advantage of and use as a tool to keep him fit. He won't even notice you're exploiting his natural instincts because he'll be in a major state of euphoria from doing what he loves to do. A dog that's sufficiently occupied, not by just going for a walk around the block, but with some serious sessions of interactive play between the two of you, expends more energy and brain power, which means he's is less likely to get bored and destructive when left alone. What if your dog doesn't know when to stop playing fetch, is it bad for him? Yes, it can be. Some dogs get so entranced with fetch they never want to let go of the ball or leave the stick you've been throwing for him behind. Dogs, just like us, can easily develop an obsession. It's down to you to decide if you think your dog is over-fixated on fetch. Maybe he won't let go of the ball or he could even become aggressive when you attempt to take it off him. Both are signs your pup may have taken his love of fetch just one step too far. An overt love of fetch can become particularly frustrating to an owner if you are unable to separate your dog from his toy and he's constantly thrusting the ball at you in the hope you'll join in with the game. Putting the fetch toy away and out of sight, when you can get hold of it, will help him forget about fetch until your next scheduled session in the dog park.

Other Solutions and Considerations

If your dog has loved playing fetch all his life and suddenly loses interest in chasing after his favorite toy, he could be trying to tell you that all is not well. A visit to the vet might be in order just to get him checked over in case he's developing something like arthritis and finds it painful to run. Another thing you might like to consider, if your dog is getting on in years, is that he may be suffering from visual problems, his eyesight is not what it should be and he just can't quite focus on what you're throwing. Bad vision can also affect young dogs too so it's best to get them checked over if you have any doubts in that direction.


Dogs love fetch and it's natural for them to enjoy retrieving things you throw. But have you noticed there's always that one individual canine character who will let you know, by the look on their face when you lance the ball, they're not in the least bit interested in fetch so you're just going to have to go and bring it back yourself.

By a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze

Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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