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GoodbyeHalcyonDays

Training a Dog to Bring the Ball Back All the Way

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Hi there folks,

 

So I have a friend who has a 8 mo. old border collie; he's had her since she was about seven or weight weeks old, and I've been her dog walker/sitter since then. She's a very good dog, and the owner spends a very large deal of time with her, but we've been having an issue with her that we don't know how to approach training.

 

She loves to play fetch, and will display herding behaviors while doing so (signature crouch and stalk, lying down and waiting), but her biggest issue with this is that she will not come close to us or bring us back the ball. She will gladly chase after it, get it, then walk a little ways before dropping it, and then going into a down position. This is a problem when she drops the ball a good 40-50 yards away from us, so it defeats the purpose of fetch, but her obsession with it has gotten a bit much so we just play fetch with it.

 

At the moment, my workaround this is that I play fetch with her and my own dog; when I throw it and she does this, my dog will get it and bring it all the way back to me, and I lure her back to me by getting her to go behind and around me. No problem. But this requires two dogs, and this isn't always going to be the case.

 

Do you have any suggestions on how we can work on this so that she brings the ball back all the way? Thank you in advance for your time.

 

 

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Does she come all the to you, every time when you call her without toys? Good things need to happen when she does so she makes the choice to do the right thing.

I would begin with a recall then move on to ball. Roll a short distance to her, get her interested and excited by the movement of the ball and then back up making it fun for her to bring toys to you. Clap laugh...

 

Most dogs go through a stage where they would like you to chase them for the toy in their mouth since that is what they do with each other. Make it more fun to bring it to you.

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Does she come all the to you, every time when you call her without toys? Good things need to happen when she does so she makes the choice to do the right thing.

I would begin with a recall then move on to ball. Roll a short distance to her, get her interested and excited by the movement of the ball and then back up making it fun for her to bring toys to you. Clap laugh...

 

Most dogs go through a stage where they would like you to chase them for the toy in their mouth since that is what they do with each other. Make it more fun to bring it to you.

 

Denice,

 

Her recall is good and quite reliable with me, and I have no problems calling her back while walking off-leash with my dog. However, the problem is when the ball comes out, all training goes out the window; I have tried everything, from giving her treats and praise, as well as using multiple balls during fetch time. The only reliable method of getting her to come back during fetch is telling her to go behind and around me- which I have to yell since she's so far away, and it does take her a bit to come back due to the distance, but she does so without fail. Short of putting her on an extremely long leash, I've tried most common fixes with no results.

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Try turning away as she returns, get her focused on you, moving towards you instead on dropping teh ball and focusing on it. Also using 2 balls helps a little so its not the stared at ball that gets moving.

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150ft is far to throw the ball. I would clip a 50ft long line on her and throw the ball maybe 30 ft or so. When she lays down just walk to the end of the line and reel her back in to the spot you were standing (say the cue you want too). We say "bring it".

Don't throw the ball again until she brings it to you, even if you did all the work with the line. I would work on this while it's just her and no other dogs. Think of it like a recall: throw the ball short distances and show her what you want her to do. Make it easy. Repeat.

The same thing you would do with recall, start close by, make it easy/little distractions then work up to farther distances.

Eventually it becomes automatic as they learn how to play the game, they always bring it or I can say bring it to get them to move closer.

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Lucky does this sometimes. He'll bring the ball close, but not close enough to pick it up. I turn around and walk away - like 'game over' walk away, and he'll follow me and bring it to me then. I also think making him sit before I throw it helps some. It's part of the pattern of the game (they love patterns). Throw ball, catch ball, bring ball, sit, throw ball again. I also like Waffle's suggestion of doing shorter distances first.

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Definitely shorten the distance and probably the duration that the game is being played - end the game when you have had one or two successes, well before she chooses to end the game.

 

My young dog is finally starting to reliably bring me his toy. I stopped picking up the toys at all - if he wants to play he gets to bring me the toy. I also use another toy in my hand, as I throw one toy, when he grabs it, I make the toy in my hand "alive" - sometimes out of excitement he will drop the toy he has but he is driving back to me quickly, which I want. He will now retrieve his less favorite toy, knowing that when he brings it back, I will play with him with his favorite toy. When my dogs are tired or hot, they will definitely stop bringing me the toy right away, so I know if I have to ask them to bring a toy, they are probably done with the game. I try my best not to let it get to that point.

 

Also, I initially train in a really small area, like a hallway in the house..Be really, really consistent and don't put a timeline on it. Too many people seem to think that every dog should learn a specific "trick" within a certain amount of time. I know of dogs that it has taken a year to get a reliable retrieve...

 

Have fun :)

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Waffles' suggestion is a good one.

Basically train it like any other behavior. She gets praise, treat, and/or to keep playing if she brings it all the way back. Gets nothing if she doesn't. the use of a long line and shorter distance of throwing it is a good idea. I think it might be that the problem is that she still gets to play even if she does it her way which is not to bring it. The play needs to be, in this case, on your terms only.

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Lots of good suggestions here.

I had this problem with Runa, and found a link that suggested using a ball and food. If I remember right, you cut a slice into a ball and put really good treats in it. Let at the dog smell the treats, throw it, when the dog follows the ball, you follow and show the dog that they need you to get the treats out. They said after awhile, the dog figures out they need to bring it to you if they want the treats and when they do, the heavens open and they are showered with treats and praise.
Of course this only works with food driven dogs.

I never got a chance to try it out due to a happy accident. I had been training Run to bring toys and balls and drop them into a container, while saying “bring it”. Runa was doing so good at that, that I transitioned it to outside, using an ice cream bucket, and it worked. She brings the ball back and drops it in the bucket. I don’t have to touch the ball (I use a chuck-it), and I don’t have to worry about the ball rolling away. Now for Runa, dropping it in the bucket is part of the playing pattern.

Good luck and let us know if anything works.

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I had similar issues with my pup Shadow. I mostly did what Waffles was suggesting. The difference is that Shadow would never bring the ball back, even if I tried to reel her in.

 

To work on this I'd throw the ball, let her go get it, and wait for her to lay down. I'd then walk up to her, having her stay the whole time, and take the ball and walk the full length of the lead back. I'd then be able to call her back and throw it again. Eventually, not the first nor second day we practiced this, she started to come back with some encouragement.

 

She's 5 months now and is a champ at fetch. It took some effort, but she now knows if she wants to play fetch she has to bring it back.

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