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Dog Refuses To Bring Ball to Me


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Hi folks.

 

 

As some of you may remember, or know too well with a ball obsessed dog, my Caleb loves to fetch until he drops dead. However, we've been having an issue for quite awhile now, but it's only gotten so annoying I want to ask for help. I know, it's really backwards, but I was hoping I could fix it, but alas, I don't know what to do.

 

Caleb loves to fetch, but the problem is that he refuses to bring the ball back to me; he will bring it to every other person in the dog run but me. While this normally would not be an issue, it is extremely annoying when I am specifically trying to play with him and there's only 1-2 other people in the park that have no interest in throwing it for him, and have him completely ignore me. He would prefer to just lie down than give me the ball despite him wanting to.

The other thing is that if I'm with friends, he won't bring it to me even if I call him; if I call him, he immediately drops it at the other person's feet, which means I have to walk over and get it. Or if I walk over with an outstretched hand saying "Caleb, drop it," gently, he'll drop it and then get ready to sprint for it again even if I have no intention of throwing it.

 

I'm trying very hard to not get upset at this, but it's a huge blow to my ego when my dog, who at home would love to play with me at any given time, would rather lie down or completely ignore me when I call him just to give the ball to someone else. I've tried tugging with the ball (which he loves), as well as treating it like the best play in the world (which he likes), but no matter what, daddy gets no ball.

 

It's odd because as a puppy (11mo.-1yr 8 months), he would ONLY bring the ball to me. No matter who threw it, where it came from, he would not give it to anyone else, period. Now it's the exact opposite.

He also won't drop it for other people now unless I tell him to. So it's either me telling him to drop the ball for someone else, walking over to pick it up every single throw, or not playing at all. Right now, I'm just not taking out the ball at all and we are playing with a flirt pole.

 

 

I'm very sorry for the long post. I'm just really clueless as to what I can do.

 

On an unrelated note, I would like to improve his confidence as well; we have a dog staying for the holidays, and every time I yell at the other dog, he thinks I'm yelling at him so I have to comfort him too.

 

 

Any help would greatly be appreciated. Thank you and happy holidays!

(including pictures of him jumping around to show he's an awesome dog)

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I think I would stop playing with the ball at the dog park. Instead play at home where he is willing to bring the ball back. Every time he doesn't return it to you at the park, he's reinforcing that behavior. And although you're trying hard not to be annoyed and/or transmit that to him (kudos to you for recognizing that this is not a good thing), your tone of voice and body language are probably still giving you away. So for now, I wouldn't set him up to fail by even bothering with a ball at the dog park. Make the dog park for other forms of play.

 

Why do you need to yell at the other dog? Some dogs are just plain sensitive, and no matter how much confidence they have, if the human is yelling, they're going to melt. I have a couple like that--great work dogs, plenty confident under pretty much all circumstances, but if there's a human yelling thay do. not. like. it. Again, I think I'd come up with ways of intervening with the other dog that don't require yelling. This sensitivity that Caleb shows could be part of the reason that he's not "performing" as you'd like at the park. If he's sensitive to yelling, he's probably also sensitive to tone and can read irritation in your voice even if you think you're hiding it. It then becomes a vicious cycle: he doesn't bring the ball, you get annoyed even though you're trying to hide it, and he wants to bring the ball even less.

 

In other words, it's entirely possible that the two behaviors are related to each other and to his sensitivity toward your tone/mood. For me, the first step would be to break the cycle (no fetch at the park) and then work on rebuilding my relationship with him (and you can give a sensitive dog more confidence, but I think they will always be sensitive to your tone, even so, because it's their nature), only bringing the ball back into the picture when it's just you and him. And making sure fetch is always fun, with no corrections, no pressure. And really, he gets ready to sprint again because he has no idea that you have no intention of throwing again. How could he? The fact that this bothers you says to me that even though you say you're trying to manage your feelings/expectations, those feelings and expectations are still there, and he is able to read them (your annoyance, dissapointment, whatever), and the more pressure you put on him to do what you want, the more he thinks he's in trouble and so the less inclined he is to have anything to do with you.

 

Just my two cents. Others will likely have advice on retraining fetch. BTW, he's a lovely dog! One of the littermates to two of my dogs is named Caleb, and he's also a sensitive soul....

 

J.

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I agree with everything that Julie said above.

 

And really, he gets ready to sprint again because he has no idea that you have no intention of throwing again. How could he?

 

And this? I've mentioned it on these Boards before, but I think it bears repeating.

 

I respect that my dog doesn't always know my intentions. So when I'm getting ready to stop the game, I tell him "Last one" right before the last throw. Then, when he brings the ball back that time, I tell him "All done" and we're finished.

 

It'll take a little time, but Caleb will learn to understand what "Last one" means, and then he won't be so disappointed when the game ends, because now it won't be an abrupt, unexpected ending. I can see a distinct difference in Bodhi when he's returning with his last thrown ball. He still comes back happily, but it's slower and less intense because he's not anticipating another throw. He knows the game's over.

 

I also agree. Caleb's gorgeous! I especially like that last portrait of him.

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I agree with Julie 100%. Leave fetch out of the dog park experience and use something besides yelling.

 

Gideon does not ever want Mom unhappy, and it doesn't matter that it has nothing to do with him, Mom is still unhappy. Try distraction with the other dog instead of yelling. Squeak a squeaker, call everyone to you in an excited voice, something that will stop the one dog from whatever, but not upset the dog that isn't even doing something wrong.

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Many of my fosters have decided that it's fun to get others to throw their ball. As long as they are having fun and getting exercise, I really don't feel the need to interfere. Folks that go to the dog park are usually more than willing to throw for them; even people who hardly interact with their own dog succumb to the intense border collie stare. [see also: http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showtopic=35999&do=findComment&comment=455377 ]

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I respect that my dog doesn't always know my intentions. So when I'm getting ready to stop the game, I tell him "Last one" right before the last throw. Then, when he brings the ball back that time, I tell him "All done" and we're finished.

I do this, too. And I think it is a nice way to end the game, because the dog gets a warning that the play will be over. I found with my fetch-obsessed dog that it made the difference between his continuing to bug me to throw something and his calmly accepting that playtime was done for now.

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Many of my fosters have decided that it's fun to get others to throw their ball. As long as they are having fun and getting exercise, I really don't feel the need to interfere. Folks that go to the dog park are usually more than willing to throw for them; even people who hardly interact with their own dog succumb to the intense border collie stare. [see also: http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showtopic=35999&do=findComment&comment=455377 ]

The problem is when the park isn't full of people (like 1-2) beside myself, who have inclination of throwing the ball at all, and Caleb would rather just sit there staring intensely at them instead of just coming to me. I've had one person intentionally kick the ball in his face back to get him away. That almost led into a fight between us.

I think I would stop playing with the ball at the dog park. Instead play at home where he is willing to bring the ball back. Every time he doesn't return it to you at the park, he's reinforcing that behavior. And although you're trying hard not to be annoyed and/or transmit that to him (kudos to you for recognizing that this is not a good thing), your tone of voice and body language are probably still giving you away. So for now, I wouldn't set him up to fail by even bothering with a ball at the dog park. Make the dog park for other forms of play.

 

Why do you need to yell at the other dog? Some dogs are just plain sensitive, and no matter how much confidence they have, if the human is yelling, they're going to melt. I have a couple like that--great work dogs, plenty confident under pretty much all circumstances, but if there's a human yelling thay do. not. like. it. Again, I think I'd come up with ways of intervening with the other dog that don't require yelling. This sensitivity that Caleb shows could be part of the reason that he's not "performing" as you'd like at the park. If he's sensitive to yelling, he's probably also sensitive to tone and can read irritation in your voice even if you think you're hiding it. It then becomes a vicious cycle: he doesn't bring the ball, you get annoyed even though you're trying to hide it, and he wants to bring the ball even less.

 

In other words, it's entirely possible that the two behaviors are related to each other and to his sensitivity toward your tone/mood. For me, the first step would be to break the cycle (no fetch at the park) and then work on rebuilding my relationship with him (and you can give a sensitive dog more confidence, but I think they will always be sensitive to your tone, even so, because it's their nature), only bringing the ball back into the picture when it's just you and him. And making sure fetch is always fun, with no corrections, no pressure. And really, he gets ready to sprint again because he has no idea that you have no intention of throwing again. How could he? The fact that this bothers you says to me that even though you say you're trying to manage your feelings/expectations, those feelings and expectations are still there, and he is able to read them (your annoyance, dissapointment, whatever), and the more pressure you put on him to do what you want, the more he thinks he's in trouble and so the less inclined he is to have anything to do with you.

 

Just my two cents. Others will likely have advice on retraining fetch. BTW, he's a lovely dog! One of the littermates to two of my dogs is named Caleb, and he's also a sensitive soul....

 

J.

He doesn't really play with anything else at the dog park, so we've been making our trips short since I didn't want to play fetch with him. We instead play on the grass with a flirt pole.

But if I'm in the dog park, a lot of people know Caleb, so they'll throw the ball even with me telling them not to. Should I just leave the park then?

 

Sorry, I should have clarified; "yelling" is just me saying in a loud voice something along the lines of, "Pana, get down from the counter!" from across the room. She's not my dog and will only be here for a few days. She doesn't listen the way Caleb does, so I have to be a little louder.

 

There's a ball field not too far from my home that no one goes to. I'll try going there with him more often so only the two of us can play fetch.

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I respect that my dog doesn't always know my intentions. So when I'm getting ready to stop the game, I tell him "Last one" right before the last throw. Then, when he brings the ball back that time, I tell him "All done" and we're finished.

This is exactly the technique I use!

 

I'm having similar problems as the OP. Instead of just ignoring me, Maple barks at me instead. She knows what "last one" means, and normally after I say this, she refuses to come back at all.

 

However, she's got "all done" down pat. Once I say those two words, her focus switches off of whatever it was she was doing. I love it! Off switch has been installed. :D However, this really only works if I've got whatever it was she was playing with in my hand.

 

ETA also, instead of yelling, I just give my best "you're about to get in trouble" voice, and she usually stops right away. If she doesn't, I'll give her one more chance before a stern "No!" which almost always works.

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I literally just came in from playing ball with my two bcs.

 

Speaking for myself only, the whole not bringing the ball back all the way is definitely a case of "he who argues for his own limitations gets to keep them", a line that I used many a time when teaching classes. Frankie the older bc has a reliable retrieve to hand so much so that he will stick the ball into your hands if you don't take it from him promptly enough. Zen the younger has a great retrieve but only to within about 5 feet. She has a super "drop it". Why doesn't she retrieve to hand? I was too lazy to finish the process and....still am. When it is her turn, I just make her drop the ball then tell Frankie to "take it" where upon he gets it and puts it in my hand. As long as he is able, I don't have a problem but when the day he no longer is capable or willing, I'll have to think about finishing the training with Zen.

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