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Ball obsessed dog - What to do?

TeriM
March 27th, 2007, 01:48 AM
Riley (10 month old black lab) is totally ball obsessed. He gets so freakin focused that it's like he kinda loses it sometimes. I have made recent progress with the ball chucker so that he is no longer accosting poor strangers as they walk along with their ball chucker but am having problems with getting him to be more responsive to me.

I take a ball with me when I walk off leash because for some reason if he has a ball he stays much closer to me. Otherwise he just gets so happy running that sometimes he is so far away for my comfort. My biggest issue is that he would rather play keep-away which makes it difficult if I need to grab him out of someones way or even just want to put him back on leash at the end of a walk. He also will attempt to grab the ball from my hand which can be very painful :frustrated: .

I have made some progress with attaching a leash for him to drag and then just occasionally issuing commands (ie. Wait, sit etc) and stepping on the leash if he doesn't comply. I totally ignore the fact that he even has the ball. I am also doing some on-leash work (heal, etc) with him holding the ball so that he will know that just because he has the ball he still needs to listen to me.

When I play inside with him he is great about bringing the ball back to me and giving it up but outside he only occasionally will drop the ball long enough for me to pick it up and throw it for him. If I have two balls I can get him to drop it and do not throw the second ball until I have both in my hands.

So, do I continue on my present course or does someone have some better techniques for me.

Or do I just have to learn to live with a ball-obsessed nut :D .

Spirit
March 27th, 2007, 02:01 AM
Ooooohhhhh... Cesar Millan had a GREAT show about this. It was a little dog who was more than obsessed about his ball (slept with it and everything). I'll have to rewatch the episode, but I do remember that he would play with dog (and the ball), but on HIS terms, and he never allowed the dog to get overly excited (so he would ONLY throw the ball when the dog wasn't fixated on it), and after he threw the ball, he wouldn't allow the dog to chase it until he released the dog, when the dog was no longer jumping in his seat (sit, calm down, wait, go).

Sorry I can't help more (but it was a really good episode). :thumbs up :shrug:

TeriM
March 27th, 2007, 02:09 AM
OK, he's not as bad as that dog :eek: . I'm not much of a Cesar fan but maybe I'll look up that episode. Riley will actually do that stuff (sit, wait etc) in the house when we play so maybe I just need to be patient, work more inside and in our yard and that will carry over to our walks.

I've also thought about buying like 20 balls (the orange hockey balls) and just leaving them everywhere so that hopefully he gets bored. I think that getting bored is probably wishful thinking on my part :D .

I should add that we are in a bit of a bratty-teenager phase right now.

Quins-mum
March 27th, 2007, 03:08 AM
welcome to my world! the world where you could curse the lovable lab. They say that blacks are the worst of the labs to train....but the most devoted.

Im still in the training stage... 3yrs later. I am also a firm believer of NOT letting your dog off the leash...but I have been trying to walk him off the leash every now and then.

IMHO...having (tried... and hopefully not failing) to train a black...you will need lots of patience. Quin was (and still is obsessed with carrying his lead, and walks around with his choker chain in his mouth. He sleeps with his frizbee, and my morning wake-up, is one particular shoe being dropped on my head.

He only likes pink nickers, and if he has one sock in his mouth...he hunts for the other.

Try using the ball thing to your advantage, if he walks beside you when you carry the ball...thats good. You say that he tries to grab the ball from you... keep it out of reach, maybe let him see it, then hide it.... tease him, they are very intelligent dogs... make him think. Distract him from wanting to walk off... and when he does walk off entice him back with the ball. (im sure you are already doing that tho).

Good luck... Im only speaking from my experience with a black lab. I now have Quin trained to understand the "if you dont get in the car, Im going without you" command, as he used to run away every time I wanted to take him in the car. They are "little buggars"...I can relate to what you are saying!
Good luck... the bratty teenage years last "forever":dog:

Winston
March 27th, 2007, 05:22 AM
TeriM....I have a chocolate lab who is ball obsessed! ( I feel like I am admitting to a problem!) :laughing: As soon as my guy sees the ball his whole body tenses and you can see every intense muscle he has! He will DO ANYTHING for the ball!! It is crazy...I thought it was just my dog and perhaps poor training! But I guess it is not! It is a great dog sitting tool! He will keep himself busy in the yard while I am gardening!

Cindy

JanM
March 27th, 2007, 09:50 AM
WOW - it's nice to know others have the same problem! Amber, my 1.5 yr old Golden is ball obsessed - she will stay fixated on my when the ball is in my pocket - totally ignoring everyone and everything else! Whenever we get to a big field - she's looking for her ball. She is one, though, that just loves to have something in her mouth - she will sleep with her stuffie.

I will try to find that episode by Cesar Milan to see if there's anything in it I can do!

phoenix
March 27th, 2007, 10:29 AM
I have had the pleasure of having 2 ball-obsessed labs in my day. Buddy (who recently passed away), and Sam, who is 2 now. I USE that as a training device. He should not be holding the ball on walks... you should be. He will be very 'into' you, trust me! Also, teach him how to play fetch. You can do this with two balls (he drops one, you throw the next one) or with one (he drops, you pick it up and throw it...) I have PERFECT recall with Sam because he only cares about one thing: the ball being thrown. From the start, I made him drop and lie down before getting to chase it again. It did take some time to train him not to jump up for the chucker (especially if we are done for the day and he's not ready to quit).
For me, knowing his obsession makes training a lot easier, IMO.

Goldens4Ever
March 27th, 2007, 10:29 AM
GREAT THREAD! I'm in the same boat with all you others who have a dog that is ball obsessed, although mine doesn't tease with it much at all. Aspen eats, sleeps, breathes, playing ball. It is all she ever wants to do & it's as if she thinks it's her 'work' or 'duty' to play ball. When she drops off the ball to us, she does so as quickly as possibly so that she can run out there real fast to try to beat the ball. :rolleyes: And, forget about trying to give her treats-she just wants to keep going, going, going & it's NEVER ENOUGH!!! :crazy: Regardless if we're outside or inside, she will whine & talk to us to get us to play ball; she'll set it infront of us & make really loud noises until we throw it to her. :laughing:

Quins-mum, I LOVE the pictures...that little puppy carrying that huge branch! LOL

TMac
March 27th, 2007, 04:56 PM
I've also thought about buying like 20 balls (the orange hockey balls) and just leaving them everywhere so that hopefully he gets bored. I think that getting bored is probably wishful thinking on my part :D .

I should add that we are in a bit of a bratty-teenager phase right now.

That might not be a bad idea. Its called "flooding". I'm not sure if it will work but it might be worth a try if the balls are cheap! Probably he won't get bored but the ball may lose some of its value and he might calm down a bit with it (or not!).

The being nippy while taking it out of your hand can be fixed by teaching "gentle".

If he is really focused on the ball, you can use it to your advantage by making him work for it. He'll probably be easily trained to sit or lay down very still before you give the ball to him. (ie. he doesn't get the ball until he does what you want him to do).

We got our Golden at 10 months, so totally understand the crazy age! He is also so ball obsessed that we have to hide it sometimes. There is such a thing called 'tennis ball mouth' - the teeth get worn and damaged by extreme lengths of time chewing the ball.

You are doing great! Great to do the stepping on the leash thing. Or you could use a super long lunge line (for horses).

Keep up the good work and don't worry - the crazies eventually settle down! Our guy mellowed a bit after turning 3!!

Good luck! :highfive:

muckypup
March 27th, 2007, 05:23 PM
One of my dogs is ball crazy, he even sleeps with a ball in his mouth.
I have never thought of it as a problem, it's a great way for a small person like me to control a 90lb GSD. I use the ball for training. I have a Gappay training vest with a ball ejector, I like it! http://www.dethyse.com/gappay_schutzhund_clothes_jacket_vest.html

TeriM
March 28th, 2007, 10:32 PM
OK, it was probably just one good day but Riley actually was great today! We passed a bunch of other dogs playing with balls and he was very interested but actually chose to keep going with Lucy and I instead of me having to drag him away :thumbs up .

Prin
March 29th, 2007, 12:02 AM
I think I "flooded" Jemma with balls... When we first got her, she was so deprived, and we just balled her out. We played fetch for hours and hours, and then came home to a floor covered in balls and toys. Now she doesn't really care about the balls till you pick them up.:D

I also did it to Missy, a doggy who stayed with us for a week. After a week, she wasn't toy possessive anymore, and she actually gave the ball back when we were outside. She was more worried about not getting it back when she gave it to us. That's another thing to watch out for- when do you take the ball back? If you're getting tired, he'll sense it and stop giving it back because he knows you'll take it and go home. I've met a few dogs who made that connection.

Flooding Missy with toys:

Prin
March 29th, 2007, 12:04 AM
Oh and about the recall thingy... It's kinda goofy, and it's not a remedy, but what I do when the recall fails and they're far away and I'm desperate in a non-emergency kind of way, is call them and start running in the opposite direction while glancing over my shoulder... And if he still doesn't come, I collapse. :D No black lab I know can resist their owner collapsing.:o

Spirit
March 29th, 2007, 12:04 AM
Ummm.... I have ball envy. :sad:

TeriM
March 29th, 2007, 12:13 AM
Oh and about the recall thingy... It's kinda goofy, and it's not a remedy, but what I do when the recall fails and they're far away and I'm desperate in a non-emergency kind of way, is call them and start running in the opposite direction while glancing over my shoulder... And if he still doesn't come, I collapse. :D No black lab I know can resist their owner collapsing.:o

Yeah, the problem is that he stays close but dances just out of reach :frustrated: . That's why I've been working on the "wait" command and then just going up to him and scratching his ears and totally ignoring the ball and he is getting better with that :thumbs up .

I think I might try the ball flooding thing. Unfortunately he's a destructive little bugger with the toys. He can pop a tennis ball in no time plus I've been told the fuzz is like fibreglass to their teeth. I use the orange hockey balls (his favorite) and they last a bit but if I leave them with him inside he usually destroys them too :frustrated: .

TeriM
March 29th, 2007, 12:13 AM
Ummm.... I have ball envy. :sad:


:laughing: :laughing: , me too! Missy must have felt so deprived when she went home :D .

Prin
March 29th, 2007, 12:15 AM
Ahh, a destroyer.... Uhh... Does he like kongs? :o

For the dancing, can he sit? A good sit can help...

Prin
March 29th, 2007, 12:17 AM
Ummm.... I have ball envy. :laughing: :laughing: , me too! Missy must have felt so deprived when she went home :D .

lol you two! Missy got to take a couple home with her. She wasn't allowed toys in her apartment because the people downstairs complained she was too rowdy. After she left us, she lost a lot of that rowdiness though. :)

TeriM
March 29th, 2007, 12:21 AM
He likes kongs but not the same reaction (not even close) as a ball :sad: . He knows sit, knows all the darn commands but the ball is just more important to him. I really shouldn't complain much because I have been making progress but I just want the quick fix and that's not gonna happen.

Also on the plus side he loves his tracking classes and I think they have been a great bonding exercise and good for us :thumbs up .

Prin
March 29th, 2007, 12:23 AM
What about flooding him when you normally give him a ball? Like every time you give him one, you give him 12. And at the end, you take them all back. :shrug:

I'm glad the tracking is going well for you.:)

TeriM
March 29th, 2007, 12:27 AM
:laughing: There goes that crazy lady and her dog ... she needs to carry a backpack for all those balls .... what da ya think she does with them :D


Just kiddin, actually he does very well with two balls :) . It's very easy to buy his attention :rolleyes: .

Prin
March 29th, 2007, 12:29 AM
"Boy that dog is spoiled! Should we tell her that there's no point in bringing that many balls if he doesn't play with them anyway?"

hehe

If two balls is working for you, then stick with them.:laughing: I've heard a few trainers talk about the two balls method... :shrug:

Spirit
March 29th, 2007, 12:40 AM
Ben is soooooo not a ball dog. He'll retrieve at work (but only a few times), and nowhere else. If I throw a ball outside, he MIGHT run after it. There's just so much more fun things to do outside than chase a stupid ball.

Someone should tell him he's a retriever.

Prin
March 29th, 2007, 12:43 AM
:offtopic: :sorry: Spirit, did you try hiding it? Some dogs are finders, not fetchers... (Too smart for fetching :D).

Soooo, uhh, TeriM, are we going to get some mid-flight pics of Riley now? :D :angel:

Spirit
March 29th, 2007, 12:47 AM
Oh he LOVES his squeeky tennis balls. He'd just rather play with them, than chase them and bring them back to me.

If we play in the house, he'll bring them to me and try to get me to play with him... if I throw it, he'll chase it, then bat it around like a cat (JUST like a cat). Pick it up, squeek it, drop it, bat it with his paw, pounce on it, chase it, and repeat. Sometimes I even call him "Kitty".

K... Back on topic now, please. :D

TeriM
March 29th, 2007, 12:47 AM
:laughing: Frenchy's retrievers don't retrieve either.

Lucy is a ball dog but never to the same extent as Riley. Interesting enough his mom and brother are also ball obsessed (genetics anyone?). Lucy was interested in the ball but tended to get bored quicker and move on to other stuff. Lucy also loves chasing sticks but Riley has no interest in sticks :shrug: .

TeriM
March 29th, 2007, 12:50 AM
If we play in the house, he'll bring them to me and try to get me to play with him... if I throw it, he'll chase it, then bat it around like a cat (JUST like a cat). Pick it up, squeek it, drop it, bat it with his paw, pounce on it, chase it, and repeat. Sometimes I even call him "Kitty".


That's exactly what Riley does when he has possession of the ball on our walks. I sometimes think that he is having so much fun alone that's why it's so hard to convince him to give it up :D .

TeriM
March 29th, 2007, 12:51 AM
Soooo, uhh, TeriM, are we going to get some mid-flight pics of Riley now? :D :angel:

Nope, he's not quite that coordinated yet :o .

phoenix
March 29th, 2007, 08:50 AM
Sam is a tennis ball destroyer too... So we use the Kong ball, or a lacrosse ball. They are almost indestructable... we have lost some but never had any destroyed... you can get them at sports stores.

Winston
March 29th, 2007, 09:07 AM
Winston can destroy a tennis ball in under 5 minutes! However, he will break it up into lilttle tiny pieces...He then brings them to me in the backyard! I will put him in a sit position....cover his eyes...and toss it in the grass somewhere! Then I tell him to go find that little piece and he does! I have never seen a dog find such tiny pieces! He even knows when it is not the right piece that I threw??? Obviously it is a scent thing! He really should have been a drug sniffing dog or a cadaver dog! His scent is amazing!

Cindy

MamaGrace
August 27th, 2010, 12:14 PM
I have two ball-obsessed labs! They do not give me a minute of peace without following me around the house and bouncing the orange ball behind me/on me. I work nightshift and get home at 9:30 am and the ball pleading begins. They gang up on me and put the ball in my lap, roll it down my legs, bounce it in front of me while on the toilet and won't give up until I spend at least 30 minutes outside with them and the chucker. I've bought at least 20 orange bouncy balls, most of which are in an unknown location. When I don't have time to play with them, the oldest dog will actually bounce the ball by pushing his paw on it. If my bare foot is close by, this translates into dog toe-nails in the foot. It's all about the orange bouncy ball. I tell them I'm going to send them to ball rehab.:crazy::dog:

mastifflover
August 27th, 2010, 02:04 PM
Clark the American Bulldog is OCD about balls and sticks

Longblades
August 27th, 2010, 03:10 PM
They say that blacks are the worst of the labs to trainNever heard that. Just the opposite in fact, and the chocolates are the hardest. I've heard and read. Another topic though.

Don't know if my boy would be categorized as obsessed but I have replaced pure roast beef treats with a throw of the ball for his ultimate reward. :D

Much as he loves to go get the ball he would not bring it back till I discovered North/South fetching on a U.K. positive gundog site. Here's how it works, and boy, did it work. Threw a ball N., as soon as pup got it and looked up, threw one S. He had to race right by me to get the second ball and that's the whole idea. He just did not clue into the fact that the sooner he came back to me the sooner he got the next ball. I had an old dirt air strip to do this on and I think it helped as the surrounding field was tall grass and he had to channel down the path to go by me. It is critical that you throw in opposite directions to get him running past you.

Don't worry about dropped balls at first. In about 6 throws I began to pause before throwing the second and he would drop the first at my feet. I still had the second in my hand ready to go and threw it. By throws 7/8 and 9/10 I was only throwing one ball, the second stayed in my pocket. Then I quit, that was our first session.

I have been able to finesse this into a proper swing to heel and deliver to hand. Also, I used it for whistle training. Tweet, tweet, tweet means OH BOY, a ball to retrieve and he flies back to me. As with any reward I have phased out some of it so I don't reward the whistle with a ball every time, but more often than not. I do the N/S every now and then too, just to keep him keen.

And the sight or sound of an ATV, snowmobile or bicycle now means to my boy, OH BOY, a ball to retrieve and he looks to me as soon as he sees or hears one. I do wear a vest to keep the balls in all the time. Small inconvience for such great behaviour and he's young so perhaps in time I will be able to dispense with it. For now, a call off a deer or running turkey sure deserves a ball throw, I think.

If you try it please post if it worked for you, love to know.