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Ball obsession

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by BillPotts, Mar 11, 2018.


  1. BillPotts

    BillPotts PetForums Newbie

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    Hi. First post here

    Does anyone have any tips to get my dog, a Labrador, to stop obsessing about his ball/toy on a walk? If he carries a ball, even if I don't throw or kick it, he'll constantly drop it at my feet again and again and ignore everything and everything. He's totally obsessed.
    If I don't take a ball he'll find a stick and do the same thing, or get bigger and bigger sticks until it's dangerous.
    I'd just like him to sniff and explore, approach and interact with others on his walk.
    All I've tried so far is just ignoring that ball/stick, to be honest I don't know what else to try!
     
  2. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    How old is he and how long has he been doing this?
     
  3. BillPotts

    BillPotts PetForums Newbie

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    Hi
    He's 5 and has always been ball obsessed but he's always had a nose around in the undergrowth or at least been a bit interested in where he was in the past. Nowadays he just wants the ball thrown or kicked.
     
  4. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    Do you take him on lots of different walks or is it the same place every day? If it is the same place then he's probably bored with his surroundings and thus prefers the ball.
     
    Jamesgoeswalkies likes this.
  5. Cleo38

    Cleo38 PetForums VIP

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    Tbh alot of people would love the focus he gives you when out rather than going off & doing his onw thing but I think happy medium would be much better for both of you. You need to teach him when is ok to play & when is not. My young GSD was (is!) like this & although I taught him 'enough' one day when we were out he kept on & I was tired & gave in to playing one more ball game ... that was it, he knew then if he pestered me I would eventually give in & so he did every time! It was so annoying but showed me how my failure to be B&W in my training could have consequences & he was only doing what I had taught him.

    So try to play games on your terms, maybe start off with toys that won't cause such high arousal initially (& forget the ball for a while), play with you dog for short periods but maybe don't get him too hyped up, then put the toy away (use a word that you will remember to signify the end of the game), I used to give my dog a bit of cheese (his fave treat) for giving me his toy. I gradually had to build on teaching him to not hassle me but initially I gave him something else to do, such as walking calmly on or off lead but then we progressed to where I wouldn't tell him what to do but let him decide. Sometime he would decide to hassle me but he NEVER got his toy when he did this. I knew if I have in the we would back to the beginning & I would have reinforced this behaviour.

    With my dog he likes the interaction which may be the same with your dog, it might be that he just likes to carry something in which case teach him to do this & put it on command. Maybe he wants more interaction with you so try some scentwork with him when out, hide things for him to find, etc & be inventive. If he has been like this for so long then it won't be an easy behaviour to change as it has obviously worked so well for him in the past but it is possible to do.
     
  6. BillPotts

    BillPotts PetForums Newbie

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    No, we go to several different places from local urban parks to countryside/woodland walks.
     
  7. BillPotts

    BillPotts PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you, yes he is very focussed on me and I do appreciate the benefits of that!
    I haven't tried taking the toy away after a while, he's either had it or not so I will give that a try. We play scent games at home so I'll try it when out too. Like you say, it might take a while as it's a behaviour that he's had for years!
     
  8. planete

    planete PetForums Senior

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    One of my lurchers can get ball obsessed. He never has access to a ball at home nowadays unless I decide it is play time (five minutes, then "enough"and ball is put away).

    Outdoors he always has to work to get anywhere near the ball. Sit stay, I walk away a suitable distance and throw him the ball. Sit stay while I go and hide the ball, walk back to him, wait a few seconds, release to go, find and retrieve. Ball in my pocket on walks, he gets the ball thrown once if he obeys a 'leave' or 'come' command. He can now be sent away to do his own thing instead of hanging around me all the time pestering me. But he never gets the ball just because he asks for it. It took him a while to become resigned but he has now accepted the situation.
     
    kittih likes this.
  9. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    My neighbour's dog who I walked was ball obsessed. Like @planete I used the ball only as a reward. It was a reward for trick training, used for teaching impulse control, hidden in the environment to be found in search games and even used to reward "go sniff sessions" where he did dog stuff and don't bug me for the ball. If he responded to the "enough" and "go sniff" cues then after a time he would get a few ball throws as a reward. He is a border collie so chasing the ball really fitted with his breed traits. He wasn't as interested in sniffing and had low "looking for small furry or flying things" prey drive so if there were no dog peemails to sniff he wasn't particularly interested in the scents in the environment. What breed is your dog. ? Not all dogs like to sniff on walks. Some prefer interactive walks. In those cases you sometimes need to teach go do dog stuff as a cue in between interactive stuff.

    May be mix it up a bit. Use the ball as a training or interacting with the environment reward. The border collie I walked would happily chase a ball the whole walk if I let him but that just got him hyped up. Using his brain to solve problems involving the ball was much more satisfying for both of us.
     
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