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Bit of an odd question


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So Zoey has been here for 8 months and has really come out of her shell. She loves toys of all kinds now and likes to throw them for herself and chase after them.

 

In the house I can get her to bring them back to me a couple times, but she is so tuned in to what I want her to do that after I praise her a few times, she stands in front of me looking for what I have deduced as her looking for a cue from me. Once this happens, she won't get whatever is thrown for her.

 

I'm trying to get her to retrieve balls/toys (obviously) so she won't be the fun police so much when I'm out playing with the other two.

 

The clicker makes her jumpy as do random noises i.e. the noise tin foil makes when you tear off a piece.

 

Has anyone had any success with teaching a retrieve with a dog like Zoey?

 

Cheers,

 

Tim

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That's a problem I haven't encountered yet--and we troubleshoot lots of toy retrieve problems in my disc dog club.

 

You say that after you praise her for a few retrieves she gets tuned into you instead of the toy . . . what if you didn't praise her? Maybe that is throwing her off. Sometimes in activities where the dog is supposed to be working independently, chatter from the handler can throw them off--I've seen this happen in our nosework classes and the problem was solved by the handler simply stopping trying to talk to the dog and letting her do her job!

 

Other than that, I'd need to know more about the situation. Does she like toys in general? Are there specific toys she likes more than others? Does she like to play in other ways, like tugging or chasing?

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From what I know, she got into toys in her foster home, then once she came here and adjusted she started liking them again. Zoey is one of the swafford border collies, so I'm starting down a few points.

 

There isn't one particular toy she likes best, she can be a bit of a hoarder, a couple weeks back all the toys were gone from the bucket and I thought Izzy brought them outside, but come to find out Zoey had taken them into her favorite corner under and end table! (That corner is now gone since the Christmas tree went up).

 

So to answer your question, no she doesn't have a favorite. I have oversized tennis balls/stuffies/non-stuffies, etc. and she likes them all. Tennis balls probably amuse her the most b/c the bounce, she likes to hop after them mimicking their bouncing. On that note, she is a copy cat. She learned how to play bite-face/when to bark/wrestle, etc from the other two.

 

I never thought of not praising her, that's a good idea. I don't know how to describe it in words best, but if she's doing something I don't like, i.e. wrestling too rough, or trying to work other dogs, the tiniest of whistles gets her flying back to me and she sits at me feet staring up at me with the "tell me what you want me to do next look." Unless I'm in a busy area such as bringing her to my car if I've parked in the driveway, I don't even need to leash her, where ever I go, she'll follow.

 

She doesn't tug very all as she only has a few teeth left after trying to chew her way out of whatever contraption she was kept in in Tenn. She has a couple left in the front, one canine that is 80% smaller than it should be, a couple pre-molars and her molars so can eat fine (and she loves to eat!!!) She's learning to chase with Izzy as being chased is Izzy's favorite game, and Zoey is learning to chase without working/going for ankles. I can tell because she's also not looking for the angle to cut her off, she's just running with Izzy.

 

Does that help? Sorry for the novel...

 

Tim

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Yep. I'd try being silent yourself. The point of praise is to reinforce a behavior you like, but if she's already fetching and enjoys the toys themselves, there is no reason to praise. Sounds like lack of interest in toys isn't the problem, but rather, she is just MORE interested in you. Some dogs just don't "get" fetch (and there are ways to work through that too) but it doesn't sound like that's the problem here either. I'd just remove as many distractions as possible, work her by herself, not say anything to her, and try to quit before she does--so if you think she'll quit after 3 throws, do only 1 or 2. Use a tennis ball, if that's what you think she likes best.

 

In the mean time, if she's interfering with the other dogs' play when you're out with them, and it's bothering them, it might be a good idea to do separate playtimes. I had to do this with my cattle dog who didn't fetch when he first came home and he'd spend all his time chasing the other dogs and stealing their toys. He learned though, and now we can all play in harmony, most of the time.

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Sounds like a plan to me! We've curbed the fun police act to the point where she'll stand in the doorway and hop up and down and occasionally bark, then she tires of that and finds something else to do. It's pretty funny actually when she does it, but not when she has run full force into Tobey, who thankfully has the patience of a saint, I'm pretty sure any other dog would grab her by the neck and tell her what-for.

 

I know some dogs just don't get "fetch" and I've considered this with her, but she has brought stuff back to me (obviously) so I think it can be done!

 

Thanks again.

 

Tim

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