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Update: Dropping the ball for the tug

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I posted here for advice on getting Zeb to drop the ball for the tug and thought you might be interested in an update. (Original Thread).


We've made progress. Zeb will now come to me, drop the ball and grab the tug. He will ignore tennis balls on the ground now. He still isn't dropping it on the fly, but what he's doing now will work in a tournament. The original problem was that he would run well past me and arc to the right as he returned, then I had to grab the ball in his mouth, take it away and try to get him to tug. If there was a tennis ball anywhere in sight, he would run after it.


We found that the following things together helped:

* We blocked his path with babygates & people to stop the wide arc to the right

* I added a ball to his tug

* We did a lot of recalls to the tug with no ball involved

* I practiced alternating the tug with fetching the tennis ball at home. The ball wouldn't be thrown for fetch until he tugged for me.

* We also put him up in his crate if he grabbed a tennis ball that he shouldn't or didn't give up the ball quickly enough. When we got him out later, he was much better. He does well if we make it clear to him what is a desired behavior and what isn't.

* As he gave up the ball more willingly, we found that swinging him in the air a bit increased the fun of the tug and he dropped the ball sooner next time.

* Standing still and waiting for him to come to me, not giving any commands to release the ball and just waiting helped as well. It seems that the more I moved and/or said anything to him, the more he wanted to hold onto the ball.

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