Every now and then I have clients express a need or desire for their dog to fetch a ball.
Here are some tips
Choose the right breed. Working dogs, high energy dogs such as collies, shepherds and yes RETREIVERS. I have found these breeds to love ball! Choosing a breed such as a beagle might prove a dfficult task as your beagle WILL be governed by his breeding which is to sniff! Look at a beagle on a walk and his nose will be glued to the ground!
Once you have the right breed introduce the ball as prefered toy of choice during the socialisation period which is up to fourteen weeks.
Roll the ball around so your puppy can chase it stimulating his chase drive. You are building a conditioned behaviour with the ball every time you do this. Your pup will obviously not be able to retrieve the tennis ball because it is too big for him but that is not important at this stage. You are primarily concerned with building a positive association with the ball.
Your pup will eventually be able to get the tennis ball in his mouth. It is important that you only throw or play with the ball when he has brought it back to you, that way you are reinforcing the retrieve. Start rolling the ball literally 30 cm away from you, your dog will pick it up get your dog to release and repeat and repeat and add distance. Before you know it you will have a ball obsessed dog who loves to fetch ball!