Best Games for Dogs that Don’t Like Fetch

games for dogs that don't like fetch
games for dogs that don't like fetch

Even at Fetch the Answers, we know that not all dogs are keen on fetch! Fetch is often seen as the go-to game for dogs. but don’t worry, there are definitely some great alternatives! If this sounds like your pup, then check out our best games for dogs that don’t like fetch!

Fetch is seen as the ultimate classic game for dogs. But the truth is, some dogs just don’t get what the hype is about! Some first time owners even think they are doing something wrong if their dog doesn’t respond well to this particular game! In actual fact, some dogs just don’t have a chase and retrieve instinct or would simply prefer other games. But don’t worry at all, you can still play loads of great games with them that you’ll both love!

Why doesn't my dog like to fetch?

This is a question so many owners want to know, and there is no one simple reason. Some dog breeds have an in-built instinct to chase and bring a prize back to their owner as a result of their breeding history. These dogs are historically Spaniels, Labradors and Labrador Retrievers. So it goes to show that on the other end of the spectrum, some breeds simply don’t have these instincts.

Even in breeds that characteristically have these instincts, some simply are not keen. The key thing to remember about dogs is that, like humans, every single one is different! You might notice some of these characteristic behaviours of your dog:

  •  The zero interest dogs: Like the name suggests, these dogs have absolutely no interest in even chasing a ball. You can throw a tennis ball all you like, but if this dog sounds like yours, they won’t be going after it any time soon! A different game entirely is definitely needed for these dogs.
  • The chasers: These dogs have the chasing instinct alright. They’ll race after anything you throw and even catch or pick it up. However, the next stage of the game proves of no interest to these dogs! They will show no desire at all to bring it back to you, which does make the game slightly difficult for you! If you don’t mind this, by all means keep throwing toys and balls for them to keep them active. Just don’t expect it to be delivered right back to you!
  • The dogs that don’t like to let go:  These dogs seem so close to playing the full game! They’ll chase a ball or toy, pick it up and even bring it close to you. These seems promising, but when it comes to giving you the toy, they aren’t too keen! They’ll probably just settle down to chew it or play with it themselves!

If any of these sound like your dog, you can always try teaching them the different aspects of the game. However, if it really isn’t their cup of tea, try these best games for dogs that don’t like fetch!

How to teach your dog to fetch - have they ever been exposed to it?

You may think that your dog simply doesn’t like fetch. However, it may be that they’ve never been exposed to it and are not sure how to play! Some dogs have this instinct built in, but for those that don’t, a little direction might give them the help they need to love it in no time!

First, the tough bit is the ‘release’ bit after they bring it back to you. Try giving them a ball or putting it in front of them so they take it in their mouth. When they do, hold a treat in front of them. This will no doubt get them to drop the ball and go for the treat! When this happens, clearly say ‘drop’ and reward them with the treat and a lot of praise! 

A bit of practice of this and your dog will soon associate the word with them dropping the ball. At this point you’ll be well on your way to teaching them the full game of fetch!

Next comes the chase part of the game! Most dogs have a natural chase instinct if you throw something. However, if your dog doesn’t seem to be following this, try throwing a ball or toy just a short distance from them. They will hopefully move and grab the ball. This is a great start! Make sure you reward them with treats and lots of encouragement and praise. This will let them know they did something right! Try to throw the ball further and further away and call their name to encourage them to bring it back to you. 

If you perfect and combine these two parts and your dog seems to enjoy it, low and behold, you’re well on your way to playing fetch!


Try a different style of fetch!

Believe it or not, your dog may simply prefer a different variation of fetch than you’ve tried in the past. Most owners opt for the standard tennis ball option and it’s often very well received by lots of dogs. However, if your dog doesn’t respond well to this, try the other alternatives before giving up on the game altogether! 

Some dogs struggle to grab or carry tennis balls. If this seems like it may be true for your dog, you can try balls of different sizes or textures. These can be easier for your dog to pick up and carry, making the game much more appealing to them!

You might think that different types of toys to throw might get a better response. If so, why not try throwing their favourite toy for them to fetch? You already know that they love this toy and, while it might not get the same distance, they might enjoy fetching it much more! Another alternative is a classic Frisbee. It floats for longer in the air so might be more fun for your dog to catch, or just more interesting!

Best games for dogs that don't like fetch

Challenge their nose!

Some dog breeds are big time sniffers. These types of scent driven dogs may not wants to chase and retrieve a ball, but may love to follow and scent trail! If this sounds like your pup, then there and tonnes of games you can play with them to keep them happy.

  •  Digging pits or mats: These are perfect for both indoor and outdoor fun! Dogs who love to sniff no doubt love to dig too and these offer a great way to save your garden with a designated spot to dig! Create a game with this by burying or hiding strong smelling treats for them to sniff out. Indoors, this can be in the form of mats which contain scraps of fabric which conceal treats. Outdoors, you can get creative with a designated area of your garden or even specific dog-friendly sand pits!
  • A treat treasure hunt: This is another game great for for playing both indoor and outdoor. Challenge your pups nose by hiding treats around your house or garden, then release them to let them sniff out their prizes.
  • Hide and seek: Similar to the treasure hunt, this can keep your dog amused for hours! The only difference is, this one involves you directly much more. Challenge your dog to a classic game of hide and seek, where you’re the prize! This will be great fun for you both and your dog will love to discover you hiding in the house or outdoors again and again!

There are so many games to challenge your dog to sniff out prizes which both of you will love. For even more information on this, don’t forget to check out our best games for dogs who love to dig and best games for dogs with a high prey drive!

games for dogs that don't like fetch

Games for energetic dogs

So many people think that all energetic dogs will love burning their energy with a game of fetch. However, if they don’t seem keen, don’t worry, there are plenty of alternatives!

  •  Home-made agility courses: These are easy to make with special equipment or even things from around your house. Run the course with them with a treat to follow and see how well they can follow your route! Get creative with creating these and keep changing them up to keep them interesting. Creating these and timing your dog running the course can be great fun for all the family and will also be highly entertaining for energetic dogs. Just be careful not to over-exercise your dog and ask your vet about how much exercise they should be getting.
  • Flirt poles: Even if your dog doesn’t like fetch, they might still like chasing things on a flirt pole. These are sticks with a toy attached to one end which you can dangle in front of them and move around for them to chase. These are particularly popular with dogs with a high prey drive. If this applies to your dog, also check out our best games for dogs with a high prey drive.

Brain games for intelligent dogs

Some dogs are extremely intelligent and need a lot of mental stimulation to keep them amused! Dogs like the Border Collie love to learn new things or play brain games. If your dog loves this sort of thing too, then try challenging their brains with these games!

  •  Puzzle games: These are becoming a very popular way to to amuse intelligent dogs! These can come in lots of shapes and sizes so you’re bound to find the perfect choice for your dog. Most of these involve them figuring out how to get a treat from a toy by completing a puzzle. Your dog will love concentrating on these toys and getting a tasty reward at the end of it! This is also a great low-maintenance way to amuse your dog which they can play alone. Don’t forget to check out our best ways to keep your dog entertained when you’re not home!
  • Teach them new tricks: Many dogs love nothing more than to please you and get rewarded! For dogs that also love to learn new things, try teaching your dog some new tricks. This can keep them engaged for hours with countless tricks to choose from.
  • Give their toys names: This is definitely one for intelligent dogs!  But don’t worry, you can always adjust the difficulty of this one. Try giving some of their toys names and teaching them to identify and retreive the right one. Start easy by just naming one more two and get creative with names, just don’t make them too difficult! This is a great game to keep both of you amused, and you can keep adding more toys to impress your friends!
games for dogs that don't like fetch

Final Thoughts

Some people think that fetch is the be-all and end-all of dog games. However, this is definitely not the case! If you find that fetch simply isn’t your dog’s favourite, there are plenty of alternatives to suit them!

Does your dog loves to sniff and you want to challenge their nose? Or are they more intelligent and you want something to stimulate their brain? No matter what your dog loves most, there is a whole variety of games that you and them will both enjoy. Just choose from our handy list of best games for dogs that don’t like fetch!

Don’t forget to also check out our best games to play with two dogs and ways to keep your dog entertained when you’re not home!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *