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Thread: Dog obsessed with ball

  1. #1
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    Default Dog obsessed with ball

    Just wondering if anyone has any advice on how to stop my dog obsessing over balls or objects we throw for him to fetch?

    I know that a lot of dogs are ball-focused, but this has gone beyond that. If you are holding it, he will continuously jump up to try to grab it. Even when I've put the ball away and we are walking home, he'll spend the walk jumping up and scratching at my bag. I've tried ignoring him (for up to 15 minutes sometimes), I've tried "tss!" and using my hand to snap him out of it Cesar Milan's style, I tried pushing him off my leg (something someone at the dog park advised me to do). It's gotten to the point where I just don't bring the ball anymore because I can't deal with all the welts he creates on my legs :P

    Any help would be appreciated!

  2. #2
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    I've no experience with this issue, but my first thought was: great opportunity to use it as a training reward. But I'm sure others will have more detailed advice.

  3. #3
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    I have two ball nutters too and had the same problem until I introduced 'enough'. I tell him enough and put the ball away. It took him a while to get it. So be prepared - maybe start doing it at a spot where you don't have to walk far anymore. I started doing it at the same spot every day. For us it's just before the gate when we leave the reserve. I say enough, give a hand sign and put the ball away. It took a few weeks until it sank in but now he understands that the walk is over and immediately calms down. Our little Roxy doesn't get it yet - but she is a slow learner

    Once Nero got it I started to introduce it at another reserve and then at another one... I'm still working on the beach. Beach = Ball for ours. So far they don't get it and give me the full harassment-program as soon as we step on sand... but we'll get there.

    As an immediate short term fix... can you let him carry the ball? If I need Nero just briefly to leave me alone I just give him the ball to carry it.

  4. #4
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    If you are holding it, he will continuously jump up to try to grab it.
    At some time in his life - you have (repeatedly) rewarded this by throwing the ball. what fun.

    My dog is a somewhat intermittent retriever so I have to work a bit on getting her excited about the ball. But if she ever jumps on me for it - the ball goes away. If she keeps jumping, I get hold of her collar and hold it so she can't jump, and just stay that way, until she calms down and sits nicely. Then I let go to "see what choice she makes". If it's more jumping - I repeat the collar grab and hold...

    If she has calmed down - I might produce the ball again. But every throw - I make her work for it. My friends who throw the ball when she's jumping around them like a looney - or get the ball out when she's barking at them - get more of that. For me, she has to come heel next to me and sit-stay while I try to trick her with fake throws. If she breaks position, we start over. If she starts jumping - back to collar grab - but she's usually very apologetic if she forgets herself.

    For a throw, it's heel - cos I like her to be facing the way I'm going to throw the what ever - she's less likely to injure herself trying to spin at speed. Sometimes I will ask for a stay and walk a few steps ahead. Sometimes I ask for a bunch of position changes for example sit-stand-drop-sit-pretty-sit-stand go (release) throw...

    Ideally I'd like to be able to throw and have her hold position until I say "go" but that's a bit hard to control at the moment. So I release before I throw.

    But if you throw just one time when your dog is being naughty - you set your training of good behaviour back and increase the bad behaviour.

  5. #5
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    For us "off you go" is the signal. I have a ball obsessed BC and we sometimes go for walks with no ball just to teach her sometimes it doesn't happen. It can take a while for the message to sink in as when they are in ball drive there is nothing else in their brain. I taught Mags to sit and shake before I start throwing and ask her to do it every now and then to reinforce that she is not in control of the resource I am. It took time. Now when I put the ball away she looks droopy but gets that its over. A command is useful as a stop, its over signal and be careful not to get sucked into throwing again they are sneaky..

  6. #6
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    Yes I too sometimes go for walks without a ball and they usually have a lot of fun on those walks playing with each other... once they get over the disappointment that is. I'm also a little worried about their joints when we're having too many sessions with the ball. I never really throw it but roll it like a bowling ball so they don't jump. But it's probably not such a bad idea to restrict the fun a little - there is no doubt in my mind that I could do serious damage to these two idiots just by throwing the ball. 'A brain like a goldfish' a friend once said said.. "Just show them the ball and they forget all about being exhausted, overheated, dehydrated, hungry, injured,..."

  7. #7
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    pssst - that thing about gold fish not remembering anything after 3 seconds is a myth. They remember what the food looks like and they remember who brings it. Same goes with ocean fish.

    And cuttlefish can keep grudges going over days. Don't piss one of those off when you're scuba diving. Just as well they don't live more than 18 months.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyacinth View Post
    At some time in his life - you have (repeatedly) rewarded this by throwing the ball. what fun.
    I'm well aware of this and guilty as charged. At first I thought just making him obey some commands (sit, lie down) before throwing would help, but I realise now that it is a state of mind that he goes into, and giving obedience commands isn't snapping him out of that, just delaying the reward.

    Quote Originally Posted by margoo View Post
    I have two ball nutters too and had the same problem until I introduced 'enough'. I tell him enough and put the ball away. It took him a while to get it.
    This is great advice!

    All this advice has been very helpful. I always forget how much patience one needs with dogs. Maybe instead of walking without the ball I'll just start taking it with me every time. This way the repetition of 'stop' or 'enough' will sink in a lot faster.

    Thanks everyone!

  9. #9
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    but I realise now that it is a state of mind that he goes into, and giving obedience commands isn't snapping him out of that, just delaying the reward
    .

    It's control in a super high over the top excited state of mind that the top agility trainers are looking for these days, and some of the IPO sport dog trainers. And you can only get that and use it if your dog is obsessed - ideally with you but with the ball is a start. All joy with the ball comes from you with your criteria. No meet criteria - no ball. Eventually - the obsession transfers from the ball to you.

    And that's one reason why the idea of owing a border collie (or a malinois) scares the crap out of me. I don't want to deal with that kind of obsession.

    Use the obsession to get what you want.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rgm4q7M3Gjk
    Last edited by Hyacinth; 02-11-2014 at 08:22 PM.

  10. #10
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    I have a "off" button for my ball obsessed Bernie. Which i only switch off when at home. Other than that, i have a invisable leash, just because i have a ball that i may, or maynot throw on this walk. I find ball obsession a real asset in training. Bernie will do amazing things for me, just in case i throw that ball as a reward, same for the rottie too.
    Off button took a-g-e-s to teach however. And bernie would continue to bring me anything to throw, twigs, sticks, anything he thought i might throw. Even to the point i would wake up in the morning, or after a nap on sofa, covered in half a garden he's been fetching during my sleep for goodness sakes!

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