Playing fetch with your pup not only provides him with a healthy outlet for his energy but also allows you to bond with him. Unfortunately, if your dog won't drop the ball or toy once he's fetched it, then the game isn't any fun. If your pup is being protective of his toys during games of fetch, you'll need to teach him to let go of them on command.
Teaching the "drop it" command
Your dog might not let go of the toy during a game of fetch because he doesn't understand what you want him to do or may even think that you want to play tug-of-war. To teach him to release his toys, you'll need to teach him the "drop it" command.
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Get him interested in one of his favorite toys, then say "drop it" and offer him a delicious treat. Once he drops the toy at your feet or into your hand, give him the treat and praise him. Repeat this exercise for 15 minutes a day until he consistently lets go of the toy on command.
Dog won't drop the ball
Some pups tend to guard their toys due to possessive aggression. Basically, if your dog decides that the toy you've thrown him to fetch is very valuable, he won't want to relinquish it because he thinks you won't give it back. This can develop due to insecurity and fear or if you regularly take items away from him, like those that he shouldn't be chewing on.
Reduce his toy-guarding urge by having several toys at hand during your game. Offer a new toy to him in exchange for the toy he fetched so he'll drop it, then throw the new one for him to fetch, teaching him that dropping the toy results in continued play.
Stopping the game
When it comes to fetch, or any games, it's up to you to control the situation. If your dog won't drop the ball or toy after you throw it to him to fetch, even after you command him to or offer him another toy, simply stop the game altogether. After stopping the game, walk away and ignore your dog for at least 15 minutes. This teaches him that by refusing to give up the toy, the fun game stops. Do this consistently during each play session, including if he drops the toy but snatches it away from you when you try to pick it up to throw it.
Warnings and considerations
If your dog refuses to give up the toy he has in his mouth, don't engage him by trying to tug it away from him. Not only does this negatively reinforce the behavior, but it is potentially dangerous for both you and for your dog. Your pup could bite you in his efforts to guard the toy or you could damage his teeth by yanking the toy away.
Avoid negative training methods like punishing your pooch by either yelling or physically harming him for failing to give up the toy. This will only make him frightened of you and possibly even aggressive.