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Thread: How do you make a dog ball obsessed?

  1. #1

    Default How do you make a dog ball obsessed?

    Most people probably don't want their dogs to be ball obsessed, but I do - it not only makes it very easy to excercise your dog but it also takes their focus off playing with other dogs. My current problem is that although Brock is extremely friendly his version of playing is not suited to all dogs so I have to be very careful about what dogs are around when I let him off leash.

    I've spent quite a bit of time playing fetch at home and treating him for bringing the ball back, which he does 9/10 times at least. however, get to the beach and there's just too many distractions, smells, other dogs etc etc etc. At this time of year it's not a problem as we know almost everyone but I need to get something in place ready for the warmer months when the other dog walkers emerge. Ball focus is my preference, but i'll take any advice I can get.

    cheers

  2. #2
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    Genetics? The only ball-obsessed dogs I've met have been working dogs, with unbreakable focus on their mark. If Brock is people or dog oriented, I'm guessing you may have your work cut out for you in areas with lots of distractions. Sal LOVES her ball play at home, returns it right to my feet 100% of the time, would do it all day. At the beach she wouldn't even look at her ball

    Will be interesting to see what some of the dog-behaviour experts have to say....

  3. #3
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    I think you can encourage fetching the ball and becoming 'obsessed' as much as you like but ultimately, it's up to the individual dog. Molly has never even picked up a ball/toy in the 18 months we've had her, while Meika is completely ball obsessed... we didn't treat either of them any differently. For the first month or so we had Meika, she would bury every ball/toy we gave her so she clearly hadn't been shown how to play with them in her previous 'life' (we got her at 12 months old).

    Good luck! I'd love it if Molly was ball obsessed, like you said, so much easier to exercise them!

  4. #4
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    I am going out on a limb here, and saying that i can create this in dogs. Evidenced by all my dogs being ball obsessed. The dissapointing variable is that all my dogs are working lines lol and came with prey drive. or used to....
    And now i have Brian, who had no prey drive whatsoever, and no inclination to carry objects in his mouth either.
    who 4 wks into living with us, is becoming very interested now! Balls rock in this house, big time. A DDB with ball obsession. NO prey drive prior, so yes, i would say this can be taught.
    Bernie for the 1st 3yrs of life, would not eat when being worked. I needed to train food drive to train complex behaviours in. As prey drive is a little too high. This is a dog that's skinny, not interested in treats, does food refusals on a whim. Yet, building food drive was completed in a month. To a point that my fingers were being mauled to teach a shutzhund heel. So desparate was he to get to the food, i had to borrow my OH's metal fishing gloves to protect my hands.

    I use dogs desire for attention from me as motivator.
    I have a hierarchy of value that the dog decides on different balls. eg. high bounce ball for bernie is his absolute favourite rewarding ball.
    I always train with 2 balls, that are identical
    I train swap. Not 'out'. So this prevents not outting the ball at end of task.
    I use another dog to increase speed and motivation, send 2 dogs after 1 ball, you'll see how this add's motivation!
    I use orby balls from k9 pro like a flirt pole, this excites even a DDB
    I stop playing ball when the dog wants another go, before they are distracted.

    I get obsession in back yard, before i take out.
    I add increasing complexity to game of fetch. so dogs dont get bored. and it builds tension for release, this vamps prey drive nicely i find. So, after bringing ball back, i now want a sit or a drop before i release.
    Or i will put them in a down stay, and work my other dogs. then return and release the dog to chase the ball. Just before it breaks the down stay.
    I mix it up. Instead of throwing ball. I have them sit stay, tied if early days. And go hide the ball badly, in full sight. Then release the dog to go get ball.
    I add terrain. Chase ball down a steep bank, chase ball off end of dock and into water with jumping, can you get the ball out of the tree by climbing the tree etc
    I use bubbles
    I walk around golf courses, as often, there is a new 'find' for the dogs out of the blue. Not set up by me, act of god voila! a ball.
    I use different balls as dogs get very picky otherwise. eg. it took pohm a few weeks before she would pick up a glow in dark solid latex ball i use for pre sun up walks in mornings.
    i have a basket ball hoop, and play with other human family members whilst dog watches or joins in.
    As a family we play hakisak ? spelling. another ball game of sorts that us humans play in front of dogs.
    Hide and seek with balls in long grass and go NUTS when dog finds it.
    Run with your dog. Get some speed into him. Then throw the ball whilst you are running, and try to beat the dog to the ball.
    Use one ball and 2 dogs. Only one can get to play, its the one with the ball in their mouths who got it first. Keep this game fast, releasing 2 balls if required to manage losers frustration.

    Brian did not like things in his mouth, had no idea what a toy was, let alone a ball. Took only a few sessions to learn dont chase wild life. ie. no to little prey drive. Whilst this was true, he's smart, and has worked out, that my other dogs think a ball is fantastic. So therefore worth having to him. Not coz he wants a ball, but because he wants me playing with him, like i do others. It has nothing to do with a ball in the beginning.

    I think you can train it into dogs. Just as i have trained food drive in bernie and prey drive in Brian.
    I do train my dogs every single day. So they get a lot of reinforced practice. Every ball fetched, is another reinforcer.

    All the balls that i use, are not left out for dogs to play with. They are mine. Not the dogs. This prevents 'extinction' for ball obsession.

  5. #5
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    also, i note, my son's dogs will fetch for me, but not him.
    Simply, my son doesnt know how to play this game with his own dogs yet.

  6. #6

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    I'm in the same boat with Bo, when we got him (only 2 weeks ago) he wasn't interested in balls or any toy for that matter, we had also been told this by his foster family. We have spent every night squeaking toys and rolling balls around him and now when he feels like it he will join in. He prefers to chew on garden stakes than his toys.

    I want him to bit a bit obsessed with balls for the same reason as mymatejack, for another form of exercise.

  7. #7
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    Brilliant post.

    I have one dog "born to run"
    and the other "born to eat"
    So Snoopy fetches/retreives and Ging watches while chewing a bone.
    If no bone then she will catch dragon flies and eat them
    dig up worms and eat them, or hunt skinks and eat them.

  8. #8

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    99.999999% genetic, about any dog can be taught anything. there are extreme and brutally cruel methods/techiques using escape training to put in a dog thats is not there genetically. it does work but nothing i could be capable of doing to a dog. i will not elaborate.

    imo yr problem starts here;

    "I've spent quite a bit of time playing fetch at home and treating him for bringing the ball back, which he does 9/10 times at least."


    you should be stopping the game at 6 or 8 throws if he is a 9/10 dog. the game should finish BEFORE the dog is satisfied every time you play. in fact a lot of people make this same mistake with a ball or tug or whatever. less is more and the game only lasts to the precise point just before peak drive which you need to know yr dog well to tell. keep stopping at this point (before you reach drive satisfaction) and you will shift the point to a greater duration, then randomly put in a real short time before peak is reached. the dog will get more pushy and drivey and be able to focus longer each time. in a young dog a session may last one repition (one behaviour), then around maximum 2-3 minutes for a session with say 3 sessions per day on familiar gorund. 5 minutes of intense drive/focus work a few times a day is more than any dog needs up to about 12 months. then repeat in different locations with increasing distraction. most people go way to long and kill the dogs drive.
    then you see same people using force methods to get same behaviour = flat dog.

    i always end with a slow calm soothing "that'll do, that'll do" command, at this point hide all the balls and toys competely until next session and act all lazy and uninterested in play, the dog should try force you back into play, don't correct it just ignore it.

    if you want to kill drive then leave the dog unrestricted access to toys and keep doing 10 throws when it is a 9 throw dog.

    my 3 hunting dogs have zero object drive, i find other motivators like food. my herder type is clinically OCD for the ball, i have been offered big money for him as a narc dog candidate.

    be careful what you ask for, most people want a drivey dog untill they get one and it usually ends bad for the dog.
    Last edited by muttboy; 08-07-2013 at 10:05 AM.

  9. #9

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    bernie, curious, are you training for any specific sport?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bernie View Post
    Then throw the ball whilst you are running, and try to beat the dog to the ball.
    Bernie lol - how does that go for you? I wouldn't have a hope in hell of beating either of my dogs to anything, anywhere, anytime. I would, in all probability, hurt myself.

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