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Old 07-12-2013, 10:56 PM
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Laurelin Laurelin is offline
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Default Teaching Summer to play ball

Ok, so... I want to teach Summer to play ball. Just to let you know where we are starting from:

- Less than a year ago, Summer was afraid of all toys. She would hide/leave if you would pick them up.
- She was especially wary of tennis balls and I honestly think it's because Mia and I play ball so wild indoors. She's ok outdoors but I think the throwing the ball at the walls so it bounces everywhere indoors (Mia loves that) is too much for her.

Now Summer will play sorta. She has a bunny fur tug that she likes. She's kind of.... interesting playing in that I still cannot get her to grab it. She will mouth at it and hit it with her front paws and jump after it but will not pick it up or tug on it yet.

She likes it enough that I can ramp her up and even reward her some with it in agility. Also, I was looking back at pictures and noticed:


babysummer by Summer_Papillon, on Flickr

This is exactly what she does now! Jumps up and bats at it with her feet. She has a real aversion to putting anything in her mouth.

So here's where we are with the ball:

I have got her to where she will follow it in my hand. She is happy when I pull the ball out and will get excited and try to touch it (paws mostly, some nosing and minor nibbles). If the ball is stationary on the ground she will go and target it with her paws and will eventually lay down on top of it (no idea). If I gently roll the ball, she will follow it/chase it (it's a little slow to call a chase yet). But when the ball stops rolling, she is turning around to me looking for a treat. I was clicking her chasing it but that of course is ending the behavior.

Where would you go from here? I definitely have made strides from 'scared of the ball' to where she is now. She still does not like it if the ball is bounced.

honestly, I just really want to see where we can go. I don't need a ball playing dog but I like seeing Summer having fun.
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Old 07-13-2013, 06:18 AM
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I'd clicker-train the mouth touch/mouth grab in your hand and then slowly lower your hand to the ground since she's such a foot dog. I clicker trained Eden to chase a ball and to tug and she also prefers to use her feet. Now I've created a monster and EVERYTHING goes in her mouth LOL
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Old 07-13-2013, 07:35 AM
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Back chaining! I clicker trained Meg to fetch a tennis ball, but I started with the end behavior (give me the ball). Once I had that, everything else was just new stuff leading up to what she knew. It took a while to get her to pick the ball up out of my hand (clicking for any nose touch, then any mouthing or any super enthusiastic touches, then only when she had a good grip, then only when she had a good grip and I was able to move my hand away before she dropped it). Then I was able to roll the ball lightly around the room and have her pick it up to bring it back.

Like Summer, I think she'd be totally turned off if I was bouncing the ball all over the house and off walls, but she got to the point where I could bring a chuck-it outside and play fetch for a while. Now that I have Gusto to fetch balls, I think she's happy to pass that particular job off to him, but I still take her out alone every once in a while and she will still play.
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Old 08-16-2013, 10:13 AM
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Here is my update- it is slow going so far. Summer will pounce on the ball now excitedly if I toss it a little ways. I'm having a little trouble because she is pouncing on it and then running back to me for a treat. I'm trying to figure out a way to treat her at the ball.

If I hold the ball she jumps up and usually paws at it, which I've stopped treating. Now I wait for a nibble at the ball. I still haven't gotten her to pick anything up. the best I get is for her to lightly put her mouth on it. I think once I get the idea through her head that I want you to pick up objects we will have a break through. I'm just not sure how to get her to try picking things up.

Plus side, she gets really excited for the ball instead of hiding like she used to.
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Old 08-17-2013, 06:43 PM
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I had to teach Jackson to play fetch... and now he runs up a 3 acre hill and fetches a ball when I launch it with a chuck-it and highly enjoys it and loves it!

I didn't ever want to use a clicker because I didn't necessarily want it to be like a 'behavior' or a 'training session' -- I wanted to eventually just be play & fun. but I did use some food so I guess... it KIND of was a training session in a way.

But basically, I had him on a long line so that I had control and I started throwing the ball short distances... if he didn't go get it, I would encourage and get all excited and the moment he picked up the ball in his mouth, I would give him the treat. We just gradually started throwing farther distances and eventually the game became the reward in itself. I do still always have treats with me though during fetch just to keep him guessing but he doesn't get a treat after EVERY return. And he really just enjoys playing now.... which is SO nice.
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