Playing fetch?

Discussion in 'Labrador behaviour' started by Aimee Lawrence, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. Aimee Lawrence

    Aimee Lawrence Registered Users

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    We've recently bought one of those arched ball launcher things to take to the field with thor. The first day we took it out he was chasing the ball down and bringing it back, but since then he won't chase after the ball. Could it be that he can't see it properly because of the frost on the grass or throwing it too far? He wasn't at all interested on today's walk. I don't mind if he doesn't like playing fetch, but just thought it was a retriever instinct. Could it be his eyesight isn't fully developed at 4 months to see the ball properly?

    Also... A totally different question...after his eating problems a few weeks back he is now fine and eating everything we give him but still seems hungry. Should we feed him more if it's a growth spurt or stick to the same daily amount?
     
  2. JenBainbridge

    JenBainbridge Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    It took Stanley ages to understand the concept of fetch. Now it's his favourite and I think it's OH's greatest achievement that he taught him :rolleyes:

    We just gave him loads of rewards bringing the ball back. For ages he wouldn't give you the ball back either so we had to teach a drop queue.

    I'm sure he'll get there if you persevere :)
     
  3. QuinnM15

    QuinnM15 Registered Users

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    Consider yourself lucky...Quinn goes MENTAL for those ball launchers and we have been working on recalling her from people with them for months! She jumps to get to ball from them when strangers have them in their hands (she no longer jumps at ours, and that took a long time to train)...very embarrassing.:facepalm: Her greatest joy is when we bring hers to the park (maybe once a week or less so she isn't so obsessive).

    It is possible he can't see the ball properly if it's going really far or is too high in the air - Quinn loses sight of the ball sometimes if it's too high/far until it bounces and she's super into retrieving and was from the day she came home with us. Try doing shorter throws and making sure the ball bounces a couple of times or rolling the ball on the grass so he can keep sight of it and reward for coming back with the ball.
     
  4. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Lots of retrievers react very differently to retrieving. Some are mad, bonkers keen from the get go, others need the retrieving instinct carefully nurtured. Neither is better than the other in terms of turning the dog into a retriever. The mad bonkers keen ones are often challenging to keep under any kind of control - and they do not turn into useful retrievers although might have a lot of fun! - the not so keen ones need building up but control is easier.

    So it may be that you have just over done it. If you have a dog that is not mad bonkers keen you want to keep throwing a ball or dummy to 2 or 3 times a week, and stop way before he tires of the game. That might be 3 throws.

    By the way, I personally wouldn't have a 4 month old puppy repeatedly chasing balls thrown from a ball chucker. I don't believe this does any good for growing joints. By all means start training retrieving, but that means balls rolled gently, and concentrate on the ball coming back to you. Without the ball coming back, there is no retrieve at all. So just get the pattern going, gently, and slowly.

    I think fetch does matter for retrievers. It's their birthright. Get them hooked and it's a wonderful game for them.
     
  5. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    The thing is that rationing increases, not decreases, desire. So if you ration an obsessive retriever - one that is really showing signs of being obsessive and not just keen - then you can make things worse.

    The thing to do with a mad keen retriever is to make the retrieve conditional on control. Or quit altogether. Rationing can make things worse.
     
  6. QuinnM15

    QuinnM15 Registered Users

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    What does make the retrieve conditional on control mean?
     
  7. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Well, a dog that is in control around retrieving means the retrieve is on cue and the dog is steady. I'm sure that other people could come up with other definitions.

    A steady dog (and fetch on cue) does not move to go fetch something until you tell him to fetch. So, for example, such that you could throw many balls with the dog sat off lead at heel, and then the dog would fetch the ball you ask him to fetch, and ignore the rest.

    You don't have to aim for those standards with a pet - and indeed Charlie (being an obsessive dog around retrieving) is no where near that standard. But he does not get to chase balls and dummies. He always sits and waits. I ask him to turn away from a thrown ball and walk at heel before he gets to fetch. So I ask more and more in terms of control before he hears the word 'fetch'.

    It's very slow work with Charlie, but if he is whining, and a total mess thrashing around or jumping in front of me, there is no way a retrieve follows that. He has to be quiet, sat at heel, and be able to follow a different cue before he gets 'fetch'.

    I don't use ball chuckers at all with Charlie apart from to train him to ignore them (so he can ignore those used by other people) and to train him (very gradually) to be able to sit at heel while I throw a ball from a chucker. He never actually gets to fetch it, I go get it myself.
     
  8. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    By the way, if you have a dog that is really obsessive - there is a massive difference between obsessive and just very keen - and you have allowed this dog to chase balls I'd say get professional help or do a lot of reading before suddenly throwing a ball and asking for a lot of control. You can drive them mad otherwise.
     
  9. QuinnM15

    QuinnM15 Registered Users

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    Interesting...I have only trained Quinn in a sit or down while I throw then release her as I throw (so she starts running when the ball is released, not before). Control sounds a little bit similar to what we have been working on with recall - we let her take off after a ball but interrupt the fetch to return to us before reaching the ball. Slow work on that front, but made a lot of progress.

    We definitely have more work to do around others with throwers and balls and tend to only use ours to keep her focus on us when there are other balls around. I have no clue how to tell is she is obsessive or just keen. We prefer her focus on us on walks - with games and recall, not just for the ball which is why we rarely bring the chucker unless specifically going to play fetch, not walk.
     
  10. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    This isn't steadiness, it's just a dog waiting for a chase. :) Why not move onto the next step, and train her to wait while you throw the ball and goes on your verbal cue? This then helps with other people and balls - she won't go on the movement of someone else's ball.

    If you can recall her off a thrown ball, and haven't spent at least 2 years working on that, it's unlikely that you have a ball obsessed dog. Just one very keen on balls.
     
  11. QuinnM15

    QuinnM15 Registered Users

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    I'm going to give this a go
     
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