Teaching to play fetch via clicker

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Chewbecca, Jul 30, 2010.

  1. Chewbecca

    Chewbecca feel the magic

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    is awesome.
    I mean, I can imagine teaching ANYTHING via clicker is awesome.
    Well, getting your dog to learn anything, via any positive marker method, is great.

    But I'm super excited because I am working on teaching Ophie how to play fetch with the clicker, and all seems to be going smoothly so far.
    We're still in the early, limited stages, but it's just...YAY!

    I taught Luke how to fetch with the clicker very quickly (though, I am going to work on it more because I left some steps out that I think would benefit both of us right now ESPECIALLY in regards to his resource guarding), but Ophie is not super motivated to fetch any toys right now.

    But whip out the clicker, and MAN! you can see the wheels start to spin!
    I had to hide the clicker behind my back because she got a little fixated on it, but she still performed the tasks asked of her.
    I've got her retrieving the ball at a short distance, in my office, and bringing it to my hand and releasing it as I take it from her.

    Baby steps, but they went QUICK!
    And if she didn't bring the ball to my hand, she didn't get a click or a treat.
    So, the next time I tossed the ball, she'd bring it to me.
    She can still take her Ophie time about it, but as long as she brings it back to my hand, she gets a click and a treat.
    But I also make sure she brings it to my hand AND releases it as I take it to her.

    This is fun. And it tires her, and it makes HER HAPPY.
    She gets a bounce into her step, and I can tell she is quite pleased with herself.
    :D
     
  2. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    Sounds like your little monsters are having a great time!

    Wonder if you couldn't teach Luke to give you things -- that he might otherwise guard -- via the clicker . . . . making a game of it.
     
  3. Chewbecca

    Chewbecca feel the magic

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    This is EXACTLY what I have in mind to try with fetch. I want to start small like teaching him to give me the ball during fetch and clicking and treating when he does so.
    THEN graduating to squeaky toys, then kongs with just a dab of peanut butter, then...
     
  4. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    I do believe you've got it figured out :D
     
  5. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Fantastic! Yes! Retrieving games can definitely assist in resource guarding, along with the other protocal. It does sound like you both are having a blast with the clicker training. It's definitely a terrific communication tool when the dog can identify exactly what you mean. Way to go!
     
  6. phillo

    phillo New Member

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    Did I ruin fetch?

    I was happy to see a fetch thread already started. My dog likes retrieving & running and thus likes fetch. Our fetch games initially involved throwing a stick and getting him to return it to me and drop it by luring him with a 2nd stick.

    Recently I started using a chuck it with a tennis ball at a nearby field. I started using the commands 'drop it' and 'leave it' so he would release the ball after bringing it back. This was working well and he was consistently returning the ball, dropping it and letting me pick it up. But my dog now goes after the ball but won't return it - he prefers chewing it up not near me. Initially he'd chew the ball for a short period but usually do it near me and ultimately release it.

    I think I might've made a couple of mistakes. The 1st possible mistake was my attempt to heighten my dog's excitement/ build anticipation by not throwing the ball immediately after recovering it but waving around for a few seconds and then throwing it. Another possible error was playing fetch with him and a faster, more dominant dog who got the ball most of the time.

    Either way, I have a dog who loves fetch, seemed to be doing it well but now won't return the fetch object. Any suggestions on fixing possible training errors would be really appreciated.
     
  7. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    Trade the ball for a higher value item when he does bring it back. Play fetch in a hallway or small area so he will want to bring it back to you.
     
  8. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    A LOT of people do this, and it's one of my pet peeves. :)

    For fetch, I think it's important to know which part of the game your dog likes best. Some dogs like chasing the ball; some dogs like catching the ball; some dogs like bringing it back to you. You need to know which part of the game really motivates your dog, because you can use that to reinforce the other parts of the game he doesn't like as much.

    For example, a dog that likes bringing the ball back to you the best may not enjoy running far away from you to go get the ball. In that case, the best way to play is to throw the ball shorter distances, and praise the dog for going out and getting it.

    A dog that likes catching the ball may also not want to run long distances to get it, especially if it's rolling or stopped by the time he gets to it. So in this case, you should throw the ball higher so that he can catch it in the air or on a bounce; also keep the distances relatively short so that he can reasonably catch up to it before it stops. You will also need to really work hard to encourage the dog to bring the ball back to you, since he probably very much loves holding it in his mouth.

    It sounds like your dog really likes the chase; once he's grabbed it, the game is pretty much over unless he tosses it around himself. That's good, though, because you can teach him pretty easily that if he brings it back to you, he gets to chase it again. So, like Dekka said, start in a smaller, boring area. Toss the ball, and when he grabs it, use a lot of praise and verbal encouragement to get him to come back to you with the ball. Don't worry about getting him to drop it in your hand or anything, you just want him to bring it close enough that you can reach it. Keep in mind that it's not much fun for him to bring it back to you, so really praise if he does; and IMMEDIATELY pick up the ball and throw it again. The throw is his reinforcement for bringing the ball back. Picking up the ball and teasing him with it only tells him that if he brings the ball back to you - which isn't much fun - you're going to play with it yourself for a while before you let him have it again - which is REALLY not fun.
     
  9. phillo

    phillo New Member

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    Thanks for this insight; I'm reading Dog Logic: Companion Obedience by Joel McManus and came to the same conclusion, though I didn't quite get into my dog's head like you did lizzybeth - and great pun too.

    Thanks also dekka; just yesterday we played a lot in the yard and my dog has started returning whatever item's been thrown much more consistently.
     

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