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Stopping ball play..advice please

(13 Posts)
Cocobananas Tue 07-Nov-17 15:29:45

Dog is 17months old now and because of her general over excitability has needed an awful lot of training particularly in impulse control and recall. She is a lovely dog, calmer now at home, a dream on the lead after a lot of work, confident with other dogs etc. I found using a ball helped with focusing her attention on me when around other dogs and also with recall. But it has gone wrong for us. Around a couple of months ago she became over focused on ball play, didn’t want to stop after a few throws was jumping up and biting at the ball when in my pocket. I tried training a finish command at home in the garden but it was like she couldn’t listen when the ball was around and would ignore any treat however good. I then noticed how generally unsettled she was after a game with the ball and I am not talking a long game of fetch but five/ten mins play including hiding the ball and doing training with it, not relaxing indoors and generally behaving badly out on her afternoon walk.
I have cut out all ball play for the last two weeks and she appears a different dog, napping better in the day and listening to me on walks again, staying much closer to me. We still play tug, hide and seek and fun training sessions but I feel mean not letting her play ball. Has anybody else experienced this with their dog or have any advice to give. Thanks.

Floralnomad Tue 07-Nov-17 15:36:35

My terrier is ball obsessed and I also used it to train a recall . Our rules are he is only allowed balls on walks and we always have one more than he can fit in his mouth +1 , so three . He is allowed to carry it for the entire walk even when on his lead as long as he doesn’t mess about dropping it , if he does this it gets removed ( he doesn’t do it often now) . If he does get distracted off lead I attract him again by using one of the spare balls as he then comes to play with it , bringing the original ball which I collect up . He is not allowed balls in the house at all and only in the garden if someone is actually playing with him , he’s not allowed to play with them alone . Our issue is that if we didn’t take a ball on a walk he would not go running around as he just stays by my side waiting to be entertained , he doesn’t interact well with other dogs and wouldn’t ever go off chasing one .

CornflakeHomunculus Tue 07-Nov-17 16:03:22

DDog2 needs careful regulation with toys as she gets hyped up very quickly and she's so obsessed with tennis balls in particular that they're a complete no no for her.

Have a read of this article, it explains why playing fetch too much with ball obsessed dogs can have a negative effect on their overall behaviour.

Floralnomad Tue 07-Nov-17 16:59:48

I will add that although I carry a ball thrower I only throw the ball 2/3 times per walk , the rest of the time he either runs around me with the ball in his mouth or he drops it and I kick it about 10 m ahead . I don’t like him getting too far away and this way he gets lots of running about but more gentle at his pace rather than actual chasing .

Cocobananas Tue 07-Nov-17 17:36:14

Floral, agree it is a useful aid to recall but my girl seems more upset by the ball, ignoring her friends in the park in favour of the ball, running off with it when she judged that I was going to finish the game and getting rough when I put it away. She also will destroy the ball.
Cornflake, that article and several others on over arousal made me think a bit. Does ball chasing also encourage chasing in a dog with a high prey drive?

caroldeckershair Tue 07-Nov-17 21:15:15

Yes! We have had this with our herding dog. We had to put a stop to it as it was just causing too many problems - walking backwards waiting for you to throw it for miles and hopping around being an idiot.

Luckily the ‘all done’ command has been really helpful and I only ever show the ball on a walk in an ‘emergency’ as I can instantly get his attention.

CornflakeHomunculus Tue 07-Nov-17 22:52:09

Does ball chasing also encourage chasing in a dog with a high prey drive?

It's actually a really good idea to give a prey driven dog an appropriate outlet for their hunting instincts as, coupled with impulse control training, it helps make them less likely to chase inappropriately.

sillyrubberduck Wed 08-Nov-17 07:50:17

My Springer spaniel is ball obsessed. We find this works really good on walks as if he has the ball he is not interested in other dogs and always stays around us, waiting for us to throw the ball.
We only take the ball on walks, take it off him at the end of the walk using the word 'Enough!!' so he knows it's over.
If he has the ball in the house he honestly changes into another dog. He is a happy and most loving and cuddly boy but with the ball in his mouth he's not interested in anything else, including us, he goes into a transe ! He would drop the ball for treats though smile

Cocobananas Wed 08-Nov-17 08:13:42

Carol, I am still carrying a squeaky ball in my pocket for any emergency situation but haven’t had to use it yet.
Cornflake, she’s a spaniel cross so I have been hiding treats around the house and garden for her to sniff out. Without the ball around she is back to being food orientated again. Would agility be an appropriate outlet? She gets plenty of exercise daily.

BiteyShark Wed 08-Nov-17 08:36:31

Coco mine became ball obsessed several months ago. Do you use multiple balls? If I used one he would just obsess and chew it and never give it up but we always play with two so I alternate throwing or playing with them because he will always give up his ball for the one I have and I think that has made it easier to stop and take them off him as he can't obsess over one single thing even though they are all 'balls'. We also have a selection of different ones which I alternate.

I must admit I don't 'walk' him now because he's not interested so we just go out and play throw or hunt the ball but again as he comes running back with one ball I send him out to hunt the second so he never holds on to one of them now because he is waiting for me to get him to get the other one.

CornflakeHomunculus Wed 08-Nov-17 13:20:27

The best outlets for prey driven dogs are those which most closely mimic their natural hunting behaviours.

For a spaniel type dog the best thing would be gundog training, either a class or just doing it at home yourself. The Totally Gundogs site (run by Pippa Mattinson, author of the much beloved 'Total Recall') has lots of great information about force free gundog training. There's also an associated FB group which is probably worth joining. Note that you can't just ask to join the FB group straight away, you need to follow the instructions on this page. I would imagine they've had issues with people joining to be twats and so require a bit more effort to get in to put them off.

Scentwork/nosework is another really good one which you can do either at classes or by yourself at home. Scentwork UK run trials and have a list of trainers. There's also Talking Dogs Scentwork which also has a list of their accredited trainers plus they sell a good book to guide you through the training yourself.

Cocobananas Wed 08-Nov-17 18:55:15

Bitey, my girl just gets so over excited by balls that she literally takes a whole day to get over it, it amps up her chase drive too. Ball play has to be a no no for now.
Cornflake, thank you for the links. Pippa Mattinson on springers ( which my girl part is) made me feel quite depressed today but I am thinking that her Labrador and poodle parts might be more social orientated. Anywhere I take her where there are a lot of dog smells, opportunity to socialise, she is fine. Open spaces where she and I train and play also fine. She loves the woods with a passion but that is where we will come unstuck, I am now avoiding for the morning walk and cutting an afternoon session in the woods to 25 mins with a training session when we are home. I am going to take p Mattinson advice to keep her as close as poss on walks, obedience training daily and me as centre of her universe. Not hard because she is food orientated. Please tell me I am right to be denying the ball at the moment though ?

Cocobananas Wed 08-Nov-17 18:57:25

Would also like to add that I have clicked on Scentwork uk and that might be something good for us and possibly better than agility?

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