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Until the last 48 hours, fetch was my puppy's favorite game. He would play it with any toy, but especially his favorite which is a rubber squeaky pacifier (he actually has 2 of these now, since one got a little hole in it).

He still plays with the toys by chewing them. He still wants my attention 24/7. He still eats the same amount of food and doesn't seem to be sick. He'll also still play tug-of-war and destroy-all-valuables.

It's just that all of the sudden he has 0 interest in fetch. That seems odd to me, is there any likely reason? I don't think he had any traumatic experience playing fetch.

My only guess is that since he sees me sitting around all day trying to work on the computer, maybe my "laziness" wore off on him? But it was so abrupt and just 3 days ago he would play fetch for what seemed like 100 throws (maybe it was less, but it seemed like he'd go on forever).

My concerns are just that

  • it seems weird, so I wanted to make sure there's nothing going on I haven't detected
  • I want him to play it because then I get 2-3 seconds to work while he's fetching and sometimes I can type with 1 hand while getting the toy out of his mouth with the other hand when he retrieves it... without fetch he's barking and crying to be on my lap interfering with my work way more often
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I see 2 possibilities here, one more likely.

First, make sure he isn't going blind.

Simply engage him in play, preferably in a poorly lit room, and move your hand holding a toy or a treat far to the left and right. If he follows your hand with his head, he can see you well, but if he stays focused on your body and ignores your hand, he might have problems seeing. Go see a vet in that case.

The second possible reason is that your dog isn't stupid. He doesn't want to play fetch, he wants to play with you and he realizes that you aren't engaged in playing fetch. So he ignores the toy you throw and tries to engage you in different games.

Every dog has their own personality, but there are clear tendencies in said personality.

  • Some dogs are object motivated. They can ignore every human and other dog around them as long as a ball or other toy is being thrown. They may develop into "ball junkies" and show typical signs of addiction to their toys.
  • Some dogs are socially motivated. They ignore any toy for some cuddles or an opportunity to get to know a new dog. They can learn commands and tricks well, but may develop problematic behaviors like separation anxiety.
  • Some dogs are internally motivated, meaning they do their own thing. These dogs are OK with being left alone for many hours or living almost autonomously on a farm, but it can be very hard to teach them commands and have them follow those commands reliably.

From your description, your dog doesn't have an extreme personality, but he seems to be motivated by social interaction more than by toys. Maybe try cuddling him on your lap while working or offer him a chair next to you so he can feel not only physically, but also emotionally close to you.

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  • Thank you. Yes, he doesn't seem to have gone blind - he spots my hand and tug of war toys at night and sees squirrels from across the yard. I got him to fetch 2x after this post but not for long (just 2 fetches). The problem with putting him near me where he can't actually crawl on top of me is that he loudly cries and barks until he's actually on me or until we are playing tug-of-war. Maybe he's slightly tired? He's never too tired to crawl on me and nip my arms, but then he often falls alseep. I'm experimenting with more nap time alone (in the bedroom, not where he can see me). – Hack-R Oct 15 at 20:23
  • Enforcing naptime worked! He was already napping on his own when I let him out, but I guess he was still over-exerting himself by getting my attention all day. I put him in bed in the bedroom for a few hours and he came out ready to fetch! In fact, he wants me to play fetch right now :) – Hack-R Oct 16 at 1:43
  • Keep in mind that at 3 months he's still a child and needs more contact. Of course he cannot crawl on you every time and of course you have work to get done, but don't deny him body contact every time. – Elmy Oct 16 at 4:16
  • He gets it hours a day. The problem was actually more of the opposite - he needed more rest! I give him too much attention and he got tired. – Hack-R Oct 16 at 6:43
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Enforcing naptime worked! He was already napping on his own when I let him out, but I guess he was still over-exerting himself by getting my attention all day. I put him in bed in the bedroom for a few hours and he came out ready to fetch! In fact, he wants me to play fetch right now :)

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