I have a 2-year old Golden Retriever who seems to love chuck-it balls above all else. He plays fetch just fine when it's with other toys, as long as they're not balls, and he drops them on cue or even before I ask.

But, when it comes to his balls, he will not give them up unless I pull them out of his mouth. I've tried to use his favorite treats as a trade but apparently he prefers the ball more. When I offer the treats he will often walk away and drop the ball and then return for the treat (I don't give them when he does this).
I have made sure that when I take the ball I give it back immediately.

While an easy solution would to just not play fetch with his ball, he is often with other dogs who all love to play fetch with balls.

Anyone have any tips on dealing with a ball-possessive dog where standard treat trading doesn't work?

  • 1
    Ball obsession is a real thing with dogs, there are plenty of articles on Google with tips.
    – Ron Beyer
    Jan 13, 2021 at 4:04

1 Answer 1


Every dog has their own personality and own values. As you correctly suspected, your dog values his possession of the ball more than treats.

One trick you can try is trading one object with another of the same value - meaning trading one ball for another. You should only offer him the second ball if he's close enough to you that you don't have to walk far to retrieve the first ball.

You can even turn the trade into a training. Throw ball 1 and let him retrieve it. When he's close to you, you give the command to drop it while showing him the second ball. As soon as he drops ball 1 you throw ball 2 as reward.

If he doesn't drop the ball at all, you shouldn't pull it out of his mouth. Instead, you should hold onto the ball until he drops it. Reward him when he does.
Pulling something out of a dogs mouth is comparable to stealing it - maybe in jest and play, but stealing nonetheless. If you calmly hold onto the object without pulling, you tell him that you want to have it. He might try to pull it out of your grip, but if you're persistent, he should give it up to you. Always stay calm and persistent when doing this, throwing angry commands around or screaming won't help you.

Please keep in mind that your dogs risk of ball addiction is extremely high. If you play fetch with balls too often, he might spiral into obsession and ignore other stimuli like interactions from dogs and people.

  • It will seem simple but I also recommend you that you use two identical balls for this exercise. Jan 18, 2021 at 11:39

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