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Need help turning my 3 year old BC to a disc dog

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I don't see a happy confident dog in your videos. Meg was two years old when I brought her home and it took her almost a full year before she really seemed like she felt like she belonged here. Not that she wasn't happy, she just was not confident and didn't quite know where she fit in (like she was in a foreign country). Your dog looks like that....like he isn't sure of you or what he's doing. He clearly is not playing...Frisbee is a game that is supposed to be fun. Right now he does not see it that way and you may be teaching him the wrong thing (that Frisbee is not fun, its a chore).


Not that you can't train, but you really need to back off on the pressure and slow it down. He'll get there, you just have to not screw him up in the mean time.


What are you clicking in the video? Are you clicking the pick up? The return? Interest in the Frisbee? I didn't see him perk up at the sound of a click so you may want to back up and make sure both you and he understand 'clicker' training. He does seem food motivated so that makes things easier.


I would not use the disc that is in your video for dog Frisbee. Check out the Hyperflite discs, or get a soft cloth/rubber disc. Hyperflite discs are used in most competitions and are designed for dogs. (Meg prefers the SofFlite ones.) Many other discs are too hard and can be uncomfortable in the dogs mouth. Meg started out with cloth discs when learning to catch...they don't hurt if they hit you in the face.


I would try to get him interested in soft toys and work on having him catch those while you play with him (no training, just play). Also work on catching treats. Dogs are not born knowing how to catch. It takes practice. If you can't catch a treat tossed to you from 2-3 feet away, you probably can't catch a Frisbee either. I saw him trying to catch treats in the video but he didn't seem too successful. Just needs practice to improve his coordination, that's all.


Take it slow! Keep it fun for BOTH of you. It may be that you need to stop Frisbee for now until he has more confidence built up. Work on reinforcing the basics (sit, down, stay, come) and maybe teach a few simple tricks (shake, wave, touch a target) to help build confidence. Again, keep training sessions fun and short.


Some dogs will shut down if you put too much pressure on them, even if its just encouragement. I think what you described with him laying down and not coming is the start of that. Try to never get to that point.

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Great advice Alison (and others). To the OP, please listen to the suggestions here and slow down. You'll have your buddy for at least a decade and probably longer than that. The foundation/partnership you create now will set the tone for the rest of your time together. There is certainly no need to rush him, and honestly, making a dog unhappy just because *I* want something is somewhat incomprehensible to me.



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What are you clicking in the video? Are you clicking the pick up? The return? Interest in the Frisbee? I didn't see him perk up at the sound of a click so you may want to back up and make sure both you and he understand 'clicker' training.


I'm told this is a good starter clicker training course - and free -



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Hi There,


I skimmed the thread, but waned to let you know that I was in a similar position a few months ago, so figured I'd chime in.


I adopted my dog when she was 1.5 years old. She had been a working farmdog (or, rather, in training to be), but washed out due to lack of confidence. When I got her, she had no interest in balls or fetch, but I wanted her to learn to fetch so I could have an easy and convenient way to exercise her.


First, I'm not a dog trainer and just kind of go with intuition, so not sure there was a real recipe for what I did. YMMV


I started with a soft ball and a hunk of string cheese. I'd hold the ball up near her muzzle and kind of enticed her to take it from me. I was basically just handing her the ball. If she took the ball from my hand I would say 'yes!' (I use a word instead of a clicker), praise her and give her a little bit of cheese. She liked this because it was an easy way for her to get some cheese and she loves cheese.


Next thing I did was have her pick the ball up off the ground. I'd put it down in front of her and if tell her to 'get it', and if she picked it up, she'd get rewarded.


Once she got good at that, I'd roll the ball a few feet. She'd run up to it and pick up he ball but wouldn't bring it back. I figured that was fair since she didn't know she was supposed to bring it back, so she got rewarded each time she'd persue the ball, and pick it up with her mouth.


Next thing that seemed logical to work on was her not just pick the ball up and dropping it, but actually holding it in her mouth, eventually leading to a retrieve. If I'm being honest, I don't remember exactly how I accomplished this, but I remember it was also a gradual process. IIRC, I think I took a step back at this point and started putting the ball on the ground, directly in front of her again. I think I started withholding the confirmation cue (yes!) and the treat, so she'd basically pick the ball up and stare at me until I said 'yes!', then she'd drop the ball to get her treat.


I started rolling a few feet again, this time, withholding the confirmation until she held the ball for a while. She would naturally start walking back to me after she got the ball, so usually she'd carry it a few feet before dropping it. It was a balancing act at this point as I just worked on getting her to increase the distance she carried the ball back to me by withholding the confirmation just a little longer, very gradually, until she was brining it all the way back.


Basically, this process continued in baby steps until I could roll the ball the full length of the house. Then, we went outside and continued to increase the distance in the same way. Eventually, I started tossing the ball, then throwing it, then throwing it using a lever (chuck it) to get it to go further. At some point, she started 'working' instead of playing this game and then it got real easy. I say the whole process took about a month, working every day on it in very gradual steps, though the progress accelerated greatly once she figured out what I wanted her to do.


Now, 'fetch' is one of her favorite things to do. She absolutely loves it and has very high drive for the game. I have the longest model of chuck-it, a hard rubber ball and a good arm and I can wing that ball hundreds of feet (clear across the length of the dog park) and she will retrieve it every time (unless she loses sight of it - she won't use her nose to find it like 'real' retrieving dogs will), at high speed, and drop the ball directly at my feet. She makes most of the labs look bad. It's a great form of exercise for her because she's sprinting a couple/several hundred feet at a time with just a few seconds rest between each toss for about 10-20 minutes.


I don't think it's so much that she has this huge ball drive now that she didn't have before, but some where along the line, she started perceiving the activity of retrieving a ball that I had thrown and bringing it to me as 'a job' and one thing she really wants to do is work with me. I can tell she thinks this game is really important to her by her body language. When we're playing this, she does the whole stereotyped crouching posture, her eyes focused on me and she's like a coiled spring ready to explode. All of her commands are sharper when she's in this 'mode' (she downs in an instant, for example), she's dead quiet and almost nothing will distract her. The only other time she's like this is when she's herding. But again, I don't think it's about the ball or the game, but it's about her perception that she's doing an important job and working with me, which is something very motivating for her.


Anyway, long story, and not Frisbee ( she will fetch with a Frisbee but does not catch it out of the air), but wanted to let you know that I had a similar goal and was able to meet it and describe how.

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Thank you for all the help, Anthony has been catching Frisbee for a while now, he catches all of his toys and plays fetch. I also adopted a 2nd border collie/aussie mix that knows all the same things as Anthony. The 2nd dog Jay was a natural at catching Frisbee even though he was severely over weight when I adopted him. Jay is no longer over weight.


I think some of what you were saying was right, but i feel like Anthony needs to learn some things, other dogs just know. I believe this may have to do with him being a stray at a young age. (found at 1 year old)

Anthony actually started catching Frisbee about a week after my last post on this thread. Besides Frisbee, both dogs do amazing biking. We bike anywhere from 15-60 miles a week. (srping/summer/fall)

Ill make some videos and upload them later on! Thanks for all the help and advice.

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