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Training My Two Dogs to Fetch a Ball

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by AJH, Jul 28, 2009.


  1. AJH

    AJH PetForums Junior

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    Well...they do it...sort of. But I want perfection :D

    The older one, who is also the father, is very fast and usually beats the younger dog to the ball, although I often trick him so the younger one can get his go as well. So basically the younger dog has had less practice fetching the ball and is probably worse at it.

    When the father fetches the ball he rarely brings it back, and the younger one is the same but he just drops the ball and goes off somewhere sniffing. So the answer is to use treats right? Well..the thing is, is that they don't seem to work, at least not on my dogs. I've been trying to teach the father with treats for 7 years, but he would prefer to play psychological games than bring the ball back and get the treat. He knows perfectly well I have doggy treats as well believe me. I have tried dragging him back with a leash but he just drops the ball. I have to walk over to him and literally wrench the ball out of his mouth with a crowbar (obviously joking about the crowbar). It's not hard to take it out of his mouth but I want him to drop it nicely on the floor and come right the way up to me obediently. A little pedantic perhaps? I don't know.The puppy on the other hand, I don't think he has grasped the concept that if he brings the ball back, he gets a treat. He knows what to do though, and he does it correctly. Sometimes he waits with the ball like the father but he does drop it for me.

    Any suggestions? Both dogs are labradors (if that is relevant) and the father is 7 years old while the son is 8 months.
     
  2. Nicky09

    Nicky09 PetForums VIP

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    Try splitting a tennis ball a little and putting a treat in there so that only you can get it out. Squeeze it out and give the treat to him to show him that only you can give him the treat. They will bring the ball back to you to get the treat.
     
  3. AJH

    AJH PetForums Junior

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    well...ok..but the older dog does not seem to really respond that well to treats.
     
  4. Nicky09

    Nicky09 PetForums VIP

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    Huh well try having a higher value toy that he really loves that you only give him as a reward and give him that as an incentive. Labs are really toy motivated so it could help. The treat might work on his son.
     
  5. AJH

    AJH PetForums Junior

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    yeah treats will probably work on wilson. I don't know I've tried using toys and stuff, but the older dog seems dead set on making me come over to him. Very smart that dog.
     
  6. Nicky09

    Nicky09 PetForums VIP

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    Labradors generally are. I don't think theres much you can do with him I'm sure others have better ideas it sounds like he knows exactly how to train you all dogs do. If you chase him he'll think its just a game
     
  7. AJH

    AJH PetForums Junior

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    yeah...at least he doesn't run away though when I go after him. He JUST WON'T COME ALL THE WAY...lol. It's not such a huge deal I guess but I figured that it might help train his recall better.
     
  8. Jacinth

    Jacinth PetForums Junior

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    Hi there

    My puppy sometimes does this and doesn't respond to treats either. If he doesn't bring the ball/stick back, I walk off and don't play (neither do I pick up to ball/stick. After a couple of days he realised and started bringing it a little closer to me. If he's really keen to play, he brings it right to my feet.
     
  9. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

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    It should help to train them apart from each other. Have you tried teaching a more formal obedience type retreive with a dumbell? At the moment you seem to have dogs who want to play one sort of game while you want another. How hungry isthe older one when he isn't interested in a treat ? Try it when he's really hungry, let him know you've got lots of high value food before you throw the ball - just a short distance at first, with him on a long line so he can't run off with it. The younger dog should be much easier. A gundog person should be better able to point you in the right direction - my collie cross is fetch mad, and it was so easy to get her to bring a ball back to my hand.
     
  10. AJH

    AJH PetForums Junior

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    burrowzig - thanks for the suggestion - how do you mean 'formal obedience type retrieve with a dumbbell'. My dog is not very hungry when I play ball because he is fed only once at half 7 in the morning and I usually play ball in the afternoon/evening. But he is always scavenging for food (a problem because people just dump all sorts of food, heaps of it in the park by where I live and it causes both dogs to misbehave, but that's another thread haha) and he also eats the very cheap, plain dog food that other dogs do not like so I cannot understand why he does not respond to treats. But I will try training him with the ball before he has eaten, thanks. The young dog will probably be much easier, yes. And I will also train them apart like you suggested.
     
  11. zeon85

    zeon85 PetForums Junior

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    Hello there,
    I tend to find this is one of the hardest things to do and the way i got mine to do it was to throw the ball and stand in one spot.. I refer to the ball of ballie wallie and i am dead strict until its caught.. For example ill throw the ball and say fetch as i throw it and when it lands i shout find it quick find it wheres ballie wallie??? find it... etc etc.. Once fiound i then change command to here fetch it here and point to the ground whilst clicking fingers.. Dogs understand body language better so try to use as much as possible.. Also if u kno anyone with a dog that does it to your perfection get them to bring their dogs as this has a knock on effect
     
  12. PoisonGirl

    PoisonGirl Banned

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    It would help if your dogs know the commands ''take it'' and ''give''.
    My Dixie also knows ''pick it up'', ''carry it'', ''drop'' and ''in my hand''

    She will go after the ball and bring it back, sometimes she stops too far away, but if I want her to bring me the ball I do not go to her. I tell her to 'pick it up' and 'in my hand' or 'drop' (at my feet) before I will throw it again.

    Take it I taught by just handing her the ball and saying the command, and telling her she was good. For 'in my hand' I would give the command while taking the ball back off her and 'drop' while pointing at the floor.

    You do not need to use food rewards as treats, the treat is having the ball thrown. :)

    x
     
  13. Vicki

    Vicki PetForums VIP

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    I don't think it's a good idea to throw the ball with both dogs at the same time. At least the older dog seem to be possessive of the ball and the competition between them probably makes him more reluctant to return the ball. It is probably best to teach them to fetch the ball separately.

    And you don't need to reward the dog with treats. Sometimes it can be very useful to use two similar balls. You throw one of them and when the dog picks it up you take out the second one and then the dog comes to you to get the ball that you have (dogs tend to be like small children; what someone else has is better than what they have got themselves). After a while the dog starts to hurry to you with the ball so that you can take out the other one. The reward for bringing back the ball is to have another ball thrown.

    If your dog likes to play tug with can also use balls with a rope attached to them so that you can play with it when the dog returns with it.
     
  14. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

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    why do you want your dog to drop the ball. I assume if he drops it you walk to it and throw it again. The dog should present the ball to you and hold on until you ask for it. If my pup drops her toy I will kick it with my foot to try and encourage her to pick it up and bring it to me but I dont throw it again until she has given it to me properly. If she doesnt want to play then that is her choice but I am not going to play by her rules. You cant really teach a dog that doesnt want to bring it back until you have a good recall, then you can do a recall while the ball is in the dog's mouth
     
  15. AJH

    AJH PetForums Junior

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    another thing is the dogs tend to play tug of war with the ball, but I suppose the answer to that is to train them seperately. Blitz- yeah, what I meant is that the dog does not drop it when told to. I don't have much problems taking it off him, but want him to drop it willingly.
     
  16. AJH

    AJH PetForums Junior

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    Lol, I did that once and the rope got ripped of the ball :p
     
  17. Vicki

    Vicki PetForums VIP

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    Then get a better toy :001_smile:

    My dog also have ripped the rope off the ball sometimes, but I just keep buying new ones. To play tug is such an excellent reward that I don't want to stop.
     
  18. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

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    Actually, I don't think you need to teach your dogs to retrieve, you need to teach them steadiness. So that you can sit them both, and send whichever one you want to fetch the ball. I take my two Labrador bitches out and get them retrieving for me, one by one, or in tandem with more than one ball/dummy.

    You need to teach your older dog that the retrieve isn't always necessarily his; sit him, and throw the ball keeping him in a sit, and practise this every day. You need to build it up to the point where you can sit him and throw the ball all round him, over him and pick up the ball yourself at the end.

    The retrieve is a reward for Labradors, they are after all, retrievers, so you need to make sure that the reward is under your terms.
     
  19. AJH

    AJH PetForums Junior

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    Interesting. How would you go about this? Keeping the dog on the long line?
     
  20. Colliepoodle

    Colliepoodle PetForums VIP

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    I agree with everything Vicki has said. The best way I found of getting a dog to bring you something is if YOU provide the most fun with it, ie a game of tug. After all, a ball becomes pretty boring once it's stopped moving - unless it's attached to a rope and someone pulls the other end ;)

    My dog didn't used to bring things back that had been thrown, until I made a point of a) Always having a game of tug before I asked her to drop it, and b) Letting her win the game of tug.

    Now she brings her tuggy ball to me and if I don't take it straightaway, she pushes it at me :D
     
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