Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Ball Obsessed Dog: Update #1

I've been working with Rooster this week to overcome his ball obsession (basically playing frisbee with him every day, keeping it short and crazy), and yesterday afternoon I put him on the box to see how it was going.

He was looking so good that I decided to videotape it. I love analyzing videotape -- it helps me see what the dog and I are doing well and what we're doing wrong.

Here's a link to the video:

Some things I noticed when watching the video:
  • My house is a mess. Please excuse the laundry on the couch.
  • The box is rocking back some when Rooster hits it, I probably need to put something behind it to keep that from happening. He isn't easily bothered, but I don't want to introduce any new bad habits, either.
  • Did you see how the first time I put the ball in, he totally ignored it? Whoohoo!!
  • Did you see how the second time I put the ball in, I acted like a total dork and said "Ball" and pointed to it. Argh! That's when he blew me off and picked the ball over the frisbee. At least he came back to the frisbee pretty quickly.
Overall, I thought his hit-its looked really good. The fact that I was able to put a ball in and have it totally ignored is huge progress, I still can't believe he did that. I think I'm on the right track.

We're going to a tournament this weekend, but my team captain (one of the coolest people on earth) is supporting his retraining effort, so she reshuffled everything so that Rooster wouldn't have to run. He's got a warm-up spot, just for box work. He'll be a warm-up dog until we feel good about his box turn and recall. Luckily (?) I have 5 other dogs to run in the meantime. I think it really would be hard to sit your dog out for retraining if he was your only one competing (but I guess you'd also be reeeeeeally motivated to fix him).

Thanks to everybody who has offered advice and encouragement so far. :)


Laura said...

I'm having trouble with my ball obsessed dog, as well. I tried to build some tug drive, which she truly loves... but, not as much as the ball. As soon as she got the ball from the box, she didn't so much care about the tug. Anyways, after trying numerous things, I think I got one that will work. Since she likes the ball so much (not to play with, per se, but just to have in her mouth), we are training her to retrieve a squishy (Magic Sheltie) ball from the box and return to a tennis ball. Since she knows she's going to get a tennis ball, she drives to the box for the squishy one just to get her favorite reward.

Worth a shot if the frisbee idea doesn't hold up.

Anonymous said...

we also downgraded the ball in the box for 2 of our dogs. Frances loves T-balls more than anything else and Hank was raised by Frances so.... yeah. they would both blaze to the box and wander back. with Hank we built tug drive and switched the ball in the box to a foam rubber baseball training ball, which he doesn't like at all, and he's shaved .5 off his times. Frances will chase all the other T-balls if she can't get her own outta the box, so she also gets a foam rubber ball, but she gets a T-ball as her reward. it has made a HUGE difference!

Everyone told us to find something better than the ball as the reward, but really we needed to downgrade the ball!

good luck!

Oakland CA

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