Welcome to PetForums

Join thousands of other pet owners and pet lovers on the UK's most popular and friendly pet community and discussion forum.

Sign Up

Help! Demand barking has stopped play!

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by sorrythisnameistaken, Aug 29, 2020.


  1. sorrythisnameistaken

    sorrythisnameistaken PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2017
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    2
    hi all
    I have a gorgeous 8 year old springer who we rescued at 4 years old as a retired sniffer. He is an absolute beauty in every way. He has always pulled a bit on the lead and been obsessed with his ball but they were small issues that in the grand scheme of things were never a problem. He had no problem off the lead or with recall, commands etc etc. However in the last 2 years demand barking for his ball has slowly crept in to the point that it is almost impossible to walk him :( As soon as his lead goes on it begins - it is not excitement about going out it is demand barking for his ball to be thrown complete with jumping spinning and lunging at me to get at the ball. Once let off the lead at the park and the ball is thrown he retrieves it then drops it 10 - 30ft away from me and barks at me to go to him and throw it. In desperation and after doing some reading I took all of his toys away, kept him on lead for walks and tried the extinction method (turn my back as soon as he barks then turn to him praise and reward as soon as he's quiet). This has been going on for 6 months with NO improvement - if anything things are worse - he now arrives at the park lays down and barks and I have to drag him around as he won't move as he wants his ball, then when we go to leave he repeats the process. My husband refuses to walk him anymore and I'm at my wits end. Its not good for any of us - how can I help him? Any ideas PLEASE!!!
     
  2. Sarah H

    Sarah H Grand Empress of the Universe

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2014
    Messages:
    8,609
    Likes Received:
    14,787
    Simple solution, don't take his ball with you.
     
  3. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 23, 2018
    Messages:
    8,642
    Likes Received:
    26,870
    Yes, agree with @Sarah H but it seems from you post you have? Did you take all his toys away minus the ball? Does he still have his ball? Sorry can't quite make it out from your post.

    If you've taken the ball away and he's still obsessing, I'd stop taking him to the park and start doing some walks (leashed) where he can focus on the environment. Take him on good sniffy walks, interesting pee mail, wildlife etc. Take the routine out of the walk routine so he doesn't know what to expect and can focus on what might happen.
     
    Sairy, Linda Weasel and Ian246 like this.
  4. Ian246

    Ian246 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2018
    Messages:
    1,099
    Likes Received:
    2,200
    Is he food-focused? He's presumably got a good nose (ex-search dog, you say.) Try scattering a few treats (even kibble should do) behind him as you walk (in the grass) and have him turn and search for them - a good sniffing session is calming for dogs and it might get him focused on something other than the ball. I think throwing it behind him is better because he doesn't follow it in (if you see what I mean) - you are more in control of the whole thing.

    (I have a Sprocker who is ball-obsessed - though not as bad as your Springer, by the sounds of it. I also have a retired explosives search dog (Labrador-X) who WAS pretty ball obsessed (he retired 9 years ago at 8 years old...so just give it time! ;)) - they (military, police, etc) certainly used to use a ball as the 'reward' for a good search, which might also explain your dog's obsession with the ball.)

    As O2.0 suggest, avoid the park for a while and take him on a good sniff - anywhere else. And make sure he has time to sniff all those spots - it's really important for any dog; think of it as being 'going for a sniff', rather than going for a walk! The other issue may just be mental stimulation. Spaniels need something 'to do' and search dogs tend to be more intelligent than the average. If the ball has been 'the only thing', his obsession may have increased. Is there any agility training near you (or something similar - perhaps not flyball!)? He would benefit from getting into something which will mentally tax him. If your husband is refusing to walk him(!), are you managing to give the dog sufficient exercise on your own? Again, spaniels are energetic dogs - it's not a matter of wearing him out (I challenge anyone to wear out a spaniel), but giving him the mental stimulation he needs.
     
    Sairy likes this.
  5. Sarah H

    Sarah H Grand Empress of the Universe

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2014
    Messages:
    8,609
    Likes Received:
    14,787
    You're right I seemed to miss the whole second part of the post (sorry to the OP)

    A O2.0 says I'd avoid taking him to the places where he has an association with the ball, but take him to the forest or beach instead where he can get his spaniel brain focused on the smells and new environment rather than a ball. Encourage sniffing and searching for food (or another toy which he doesn't get so aroused and silly about).
    You kind of made a rod for your own back letting him get quite so silly about the ball, but hindsight is a great thing!

    Maybe find a good local training class who can get his brain engaged in something else like Hoopers, Scentwork, tricks etc, and just avoid tennis balls!!!
     
    Sairy likes this.
  6. sorrythisnameistaken

    sorrythisnameistaken PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2017
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    2
    Thank you for all the replies and sorry for not reading them sooner! Lots of good ideas to try - i do the hiding and seeking of food in the garden at home as extra mental stimulation (keeping his sniffing skills active) I'd never thought to take this on walks with me! I will avoid the park from now on as it is too much of a trigger for him.

    Unfortunately apart from street walks on lead any open space beach/park/forest all lead to the same behaviour so i think for now as suggested I will keep him on lead walks in built up areas and work on refocusing him on his surroundings and look into some agility etc classes for him as an extra activity. There are some abandoned tennis courts near me where we could try the sniffing activities on 'hard ground' with a long lead which may work as part of the walk.

    I really appreciate you all taking the time x
     
    O2.0 and Sarah H like this.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice