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How to teach a dog to "come off" an object


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Harper has a decent amount of recall for a 6 month old dog, but I am having some trouble getting her to come off of an object (any type of ball mostly) that she is pursuing. She comes perfectly without major distractions and she'll even come off of a tennis ball about half the time (depending on her excitement level). However, if her soccer ball is out it's game over, you might as well be speaking another language to her. I sometimes get a sideways glance but mostly she just stares at the ball waiting on it to move. I've had some success with picking the ball up and hiding it, then calling her and rewarding her with the ball when she comes, but this doesn't work when the ball is not hidden (obviously). She's only mildly food motivated, especially when she's in "ball mode," so I've all but given up on food diversion. Any tips on the best way to target this behavior?

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I think you are doing lots of the right things

Rewarding her WITH the ball so she learns that she has to work for the ball

Also DONT call her just now if you know she isnt going to come else she will learn to ignore you

I would teach some tricks like staying on a mat then slowly teach her to ignore other things while she is on the mat - slowly walking past, running past, walking round her, running round, placing food on the floor, dropping food on the floor, placing tennis ball on the floor, dropping it from 1cm, dropping it, chucking it a little, placing football, dropping football, chucking football

Also work up a really great go to the mat behaviour and slowly build up the distractions as she is going to the mat until she can go to the mat while a ball is whizzing by

Then you can chuck the ball just past a mat, as she is chasing the ball cue her to the mat and hopefuly she can hit the mat, then move the mat further away from the path of the ball so she is comming in the opposite direction of the ball to get to the mat

 

Its possibly a little overkill with training for a smart collie but thats the steps I would need for my dogs :rolleyes:

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I would put her on a long line, wait for her to become stationary and staring at the ball, then give her a recall. If she doesn't react, start reeling her in and backing up, "God Dog-ing" her all the way and then ask for a sit when she gets to you. Immediately upon getting the sit, praise and release her, (verbally - don't unsnap the long-line,) and then run back to the ball with her, saying, "Get it, get it, get it! Toss or kick the ball around inside the arc of the long line for a few minutes and then wait for her to fixate again. Repeat.

 

When you give the recall, start praising and encouraging even if she just looks at you. If she doesn't start moving toward you and looks back down at the ball, start reeling her in again - with praise and encouragement. If you start getting immediate compliance don't take the line off. Work the dog on a long line for several sessions over several days.

 

When I play ball with my dog I always use two balls. I don't throw the second one until the first one is brought back to me. This has sort of bypassed the keep-away and hoarding aspects of playing fetch. If by some accident both balls end up in play at once, (two people throwing at the same time, etc.) I require both balls to be returned and dropped before play resumes.

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I agree with the long line suggestion.

 

I did this with my youngest pup Bea. She is 4 1/2 mos. and was always jacking her older brother's ball on his return. I put her on a long line stepped on it as I told her to wait. Threw Colt's ball for him, said Bea, she'd look at me and I threw hers. After only one day she was not taking up any slack in the line and waiting on her own. After three days I took the line off and she now has a very nice wait, even when Colt is dashing off which I never in a million years thought she would ever be able to do at her young age. She is a very high drive dog, but she also has remarkable impulse control.

 

Like GB said I would reel her in the moment she didn't respond to my voice. She got the idea very quickly.

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If she doesn't react, start reeling her in and backing up, "God Dog-ing" her all the way and then ask for a sit when she gets to you.

 

I would probably make a slight disntinction here. If I'm reeling the dog in (and she's not breaking her attention off of the ball and coming on her own) I'm not praising her. If you're praising her as she's focused on the ball you're not praising her for coming - you're praising her for focusing on the ball. So be sure to ONLY praise for any break of contact on the ball and focus on you. Be sure, too, that you're not releasing the dog to go back to the ball until you have her attention, even if short lived so you'd better be quick. Good on you to go on and deal with this kind of stuff now.

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I have found that standing between the object of focus and the dog works really well for this kind of thing. Chesney LOVES a soccer ball too, when he was younger his focus was unflinching (now it's turned to live stock). One thing that seemed to really make sense to him and get his attention was standing between him and the ball I would say his name (once) to get his attention (something simple like looking at me was good enough), if that didn't work I tapped the top of his head (like a hello... anyone there?)/touched him to break his focus then asked for his attention again. His reward was then returning to play. It worked really well.

 

Also I would start (if you haven't already) teaching a "leave it" command, that works really well too.

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I would probably make a slight disntinction here. If I'm reeling the dog in (and she's not breaking her attention off of the ball and coming on her own) I'm not praising her. If you're praising her as she's focused on the ball you're not praising her for coming - you're praising her for focusing on the ball. So be sure to ONLY praise for any break of contact on the ball and focus on you. Be sure, too, that you're not releasing the dog to go back to the ball until you have her attention, even if short lived so you'd better be quick. Good on you to go on and deal with this kind of stuff now.

 

 

I'm glad you brought that up, I was thinking it would be odd and counter productive to praise her while she's still locked onto the ball. Thanks for the insight. Were working on this today, I'll update with progress.

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