Fetch.

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Tazwell, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

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    This could be the silliest training question ever... But I haven't been able to perfect Fleetwood's 'fetch'! He's obsessed with his tennis balls-- He'd play until he fell over dead if I let him.

    But when I throw it, he brings it back. About 10-20 feet away. And drops it. And then he waits for me to go get it. He will drop it on command, He does NOT play keep away. He REALLY wants me to throw it, He just doesn't understand how to bring it ALL the way to me. Now, I have never, EVER gone to get it. I always wait and/or encourage him to bring it within 5 feet or so. He does it much better when I'm sitting on the ground. He'll eventually do it, sometimes on the first try, sometimes after 10 minutes.

    What he'll usually do when I say "Go on, go get your ball!" Is grab it in his mouth, move it a few inches (usually not in my direction) or chomp on it for a second, and then drop it and pace in a few circles to see if I'll throw it.

    I've tried using a leash to guide him, he just spits it out as soon as the leash tenses. I've used a tug/ball combo to play tug with him when he DOES bring it back, but he can't seem to generalize that to just the ball. Treats don't exist when there's a ball around, he will literally spit out chicken breast for his ball. I've worked on "bring it here" with other objects, pretty much unsuccessfully, using the clicker and food. But when there's something to be thrown or tossed, that's his reward. He could care less about food.

    So I'm working on 'Hold it' with other general objects for different purposes, and when we're really good at that I suppose I could try teaching him with the hold command to 'bring it here'. But what a process that's proving to be! I'm also afraid that I'll 'poison' the hold cue once I bring the ball into the equation.

    Any advice?? I should also point out that this is a process that hasn't improved one bit within the last 7 months or so. Despite being completely consistent about not throwing it until he brings it within 5 feet or so.
     
  2. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    I do have a couple of ideas:

    - Work with the ball/tug combo, but don't play tug with it every time; when he brings it to you, just throw it immediately. Once he gets patterned to bringing it back, you can try to throw the ball and see if he doesn't even notice the difference.

    - Play from a short distance, like just across the room. If he'll drop it 10-20 feet from you, then start from 8 feet away.

    - Teach him "give" (or any cue) - which means to drop it in your hand. You can teach this by just handing him the ball, and click when he brings that ball over your outstretched hand... like he's targeting your hand with the ball. Click and then hand him a second ball, so that he'll drop the first into your hand and get the second as a reward. Once he gets good at that, add distance he has to bring it to drop it into your hand.

    - If he drops the ball too far away from you, end the game. Walk away or just find something else to do and ignore him for a while. If he brings the ball to you to get your attention, then you can play with him again.

    - Make sure that you always throw it immediately if he does bring it all the way to you. I'm sure you know this, but a lot of people reading this may not. Don't ask for a sit or any other behavior before you throw the ball; the throw is his reward for bringing it to you, don't make him do anything else at this point.

    Hope that helps!
     
  3. Linds

    Linds Twin 2

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    Sounds a lot like Traveler and to be honest I have done very little actual training to rectify it. He's more matured and started to figure out that the closer he brings it to me the faster it gets thrown.

    A couple things I did do was spend a little while using two balls and when he would bring the other one close thrown the next one behind me immediately so that he was anticipating going behind me instead of trying to get a head start of the ball being thrown in front of me.

    Also, making a HUGE deal if he brought it close to me, huge party and throwing it as fast as possible again.

    And the other thing that seemed to helped the most is fetch in water. I think because there was such a distinct line between water and shore.

    Now, for most of the summer fetch in water has consisted of him bringing it without five feet of shore, dropping it, going into a bow, backing up in the water staring at it intently and me rolling up my pants and getting it because as much as I would have liked to have trained, I was exercising him and getting him swimming was more important to me.

    But, a month or so ago the light bulb went on and he brought the ball where he always does, five feet from shore and stared at it. But I was doing something else and not paying attention and he picked it up and put it on shore and ever since then he's getting it. He finally was displaying a behavior I could reward and because of that he's getting it now, even if he was inconsistent with it the idea was there.

    And because of that I have been able to pair 'get it' with him picking it up and bringing it closer.

    A week or so ago I was able to play my first game of fetch with him while I was sitting on the ground. And yesterday at the dog park I was able to bring his Wubba Kong and never had to get wet to get it back.

    Not sure if this is helpful at all, because mainly I just did everything you aren't supposed to do and waited for him to get it magically....and he did.
     
  4. jenv101

    jenv101 Bite Club

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    It took Riley a long time to 'get it' too, we used a long line as a puppy because he liked to play the 'chase me' game instead of bringing it back.

    The only suggestion I'd add would be you backing up fast and encouraging him to come to you as he is coming back. Sometimes backing up makes them want to chase you/come back faster.
     
  5. AmyTK9

    AmyTK9 New Member

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    Everyone else's tips have been great! I just wanted to add another thing you could try. If you can put a long, light rope on the toy you can help him learn to bring it to you with the rope. If he's still dropping it away from you though, I'm not sure a rope on the toy will help (besides you not having to walk to get to it lol).

    I think the best things would be to have another ball on hand and do a mixture of everything that's already been mentioned. Back up as he's coming towards you, throw the other ball if he brings his ball close to you (preferably in the other direction so he has to pass you). You can start this slowly, gradually having him bring his ball closer and closer and rewarding baby steps by throwing the other ball. Teaching him to drop it in your hand is great as well, very black and white for him.

    I think the most important is walking away and doing something else if he drops it to far away. See if he picks it up and brings it to you while you appear to be busy. If he does, reward right away!

    I know I pretty much repeated what was already said, but they are all great tips!

    With the rope on a toy thing, if you need it to be on a ball specifically (I know this could be difficult) there is a toy called the 'Fun Ball' that is made by Don Sullivan. It's a simple ball with a really long, light rope attached to it. Again, not sure if this would help or not but it's a good alternative to attaching the leash to the dog.
     
  6. Raegan

    Raegan Member

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    This has worked for me. I'll always turn away and walk a few steps, that always makes Marsh pick up the pace and come all the way in.

    You could also teach a nose-target-with-toy. If he knows a nose touch, start by giving your hand signal when he's close but still coming in with some speed. If he drops it before he touches, break it out of the fetch game and train it separately.
     
  7. Shai

    Shai & the Muttly Crew

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    Depends on the dog. With Kim and Web I shaped putting the ball in my hand away from the retrieve, then added it in to the retrieve. They, especially Web, were not natural retrievers shall we say.
     

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