Does your dog refuse to bring the ball back when you play fetch? Here's one trainer's genius solution

Jack Russell Terrier with tennis ball in mouth
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Unless specifically stated, any expert comments quoted in this news piece have been taken directly from the Instagram post cited below.

Dogs and their humans have been playing fetch together for generations upon generations. 

It’s one of the most simple yet fun games you can play with your pup, whether you’re in the yard, at the park, or even on the beach. Just grab a ball, or one of the best dog toys, and away you go! 

But as much as dogs like chasing after the ball, they aren’t always as fond of bringing it back, or if they do, dropping it for you — which can make the game less fun for you, and less fun for your dog.

But fortunately, Jamie Huggett, known as Jamie the Dog Trainer, has explained how to teach your dog to bring the ball back and give it to you in an Instagram post.

Maybe, like many of us, you’re playing fetch with your dog all wrong? Huggett explains that he uses the two-ball method for this method of training, so you’ll need two balls that are identical to each other. Ideally, you want the balls to have ropes attached to them, but you can use two tennis balls if you have them to hand. 

He says that you need to get your dog to value the ball you currently have. “I start by getting the dog to tug on the ball while I have the other identical ball in my pocket,” he continues. “If your dog doesn’t tug, you can just throw the ball.”

He lets go of the ball the dog is tugging on, and then gets the second ball out. She goes straight for the second ball, and this teaches the dog that the value of the ball is with you, as the human, rather than the ball itself. So, the dog will begin to throw the ball back to you – the value is with you.

The next step is then not to bring the second ball out until your dog drops the first one, teaching them that they don’t have to actually see the new ball to drop the original. You can add a ‘give’ cue here when you think your dog is ready. 

Then, you can incorporate this into an actual game of fetch! Don’t be afraid to put your dog on a long line rather than off their leash if you think they aren’t totally reliable. 

Throw the first ball, and then when your dog comes back, pull out the second ball. When Huggett does so, the dog drops the first ball and goes for the second. Keep repeating this, throwing the second ball when your pup lets go of the first. 

Next, you can add the ‘give’ cue without throwing the second ball or even getting it out until your dog drops the first. 

Playing fetch with a ball is a great way to exercise your dog and strengthen the bond between the two of you, but should you throw a stick for your dog? Here’s one vet’s view. 

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.