Ball thief impossible to get back on the lead, obsessed with the chase!

Discussion in 'Labrador behaviour' started by ELD, Jul 30, 2020.

  1. ELD

    ELD Registered Users

    Apr 27, 2020
    A friend has a 14 month old chocolate boy who has developed a frustrating new habit and favourite game, and is desperate for help!
    David (the pup :) ) is brilliant off the lead, very friendly with other dogs, but now loves nothing more than to steal a ball from another dog (chuck it blue and orange or Kong tennis balls are his kryptonite) in the hope of being chased. As my friend scrambles in embarrassment to retrieve the ball in front of the scolding owner, David takes great joy at darting away whenever she gets near. She's tried food lures or other balls but he's not interested in anything else. The major issue is actually getting him back on a lead to leave the park/fields/wherever he is and walk safely home. The only way to get him back is to walk away and he'll eventually follow.
    We've tried using my pup as a lure to get him to play with her, but he just wants the chase to continue.

    She's at her wits end with him and in desperate need of help in how to train a different behaviour. He's a big boy and needs a good run each day, it's just proving problematic when other dogs have something he wants.

    Does anyone have any experience with a similar issue or any pointers?

  2. J.D

    J.D Registered Users

    May 9, 2019
    Hampshire UK
    Toby used to be a nightmare pinching tennis balls. His sole purpose was to get it home and rip it to pieces. Like everything thing else one day I realised he didn’t do it anymore. Think it was all part of a game for attention. Sorry not much help I know!
  3. Christina2807

    Christina2807 Supporting Member Forum Supporter

    Jul 3, 2019
    Luna is nearly 14 months and she loves a ball too. When out and she doesn't have hers with her she will take any opportunity to get another dogs. Thankfully she is really good at playing and shares it so they get it back but sometimes its a case of trying to catch her to take it off her.

    We bought Luna a chuckit ball with the squeaker for Christmas and this is by far her favourite ball and she will do anything for it and not leave it behind. We bought another for her birthday in June but she still prefers the original. If we are out and I have the ball then she will stop what ever she is doing and is focused on it.

    Maybe see if your friend can buy a ball that is then his, we only use the ball outside and she never gets it in the house so makes it even more desirable. When he then gets his own ball give him lots of praise and a treat. He will then hopefully learn that when he gets his ball he is rewarded and not when it is another ball.

    Good luck to your friend!
  4. Edp

    Edp Registered Users

    Mar 16, 2014
    If his recall is not secure its risky to have him off the lead, it is bound to lead to trouble. Have you tried a long line, at least the pup can have a run around and be safe as well ? Have they tried any external help? Our training classes used to do a day with a small group called " runners and pullers" . Not costly and got good results.
  5. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

    Aug 25, 2018
    Jersey, Channel Islands
    There are just multiple things going on here...

    He shouldn't be around other dogs when there are 'items' involved. If people produce items at the dog park, that's another reason in my book not to use dog parks...

    This is keep-away. The solution is to teach the dog to retrieve, and the best approach is the clicker retrieve.

    Really, he needs training on the retrieve away from other dogs and then very careful introduction to retrieving in the presence of other dogs - ie - other dogs are sitting at heel as in a gundog class and one dog is retrieving. Items shouldn't be thrown around in a kind of free-for-all way around multiple strange dogs, it's asking for trouble...

    Keep-away is only made worse by pursuing the dog to get the thing back, so the more she continues to do this, the worse and more engrained the behaviour will become...

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