fetch conncentration levels

Posted by Annie
Nov 8, 2007
Hi there,
I feel a bit silly...but....I have a really well trained dog, she´s great and things are really coming good. She is respectful, calm, listens etc etc, the problem I´m having is that she doesn´t like to 'fetch'. This is very important for me as I have young children and somedays I only have time to go down the field and want her to have a good work out. I would like to have her burn some energy by fetching......I have tried with 2 balls( kongs, sticks etc) and throw one the minute the other is dropped. I have tried with treats, I have tried lots of things.
She will bring the object back almost perfectly the first 3 times or so, but then she finds something more exciting and just leaves the ball in the field and hunts around sniffing other things. I would like a few good runs, then she brings it back and THEN she can have a sniff around. I understand she is not a typical fetch dog ( she is a husky german sheperd mix) but she is keen and happy to chase things. This is frustrating...can anyone help with a tip or trick? She just seems to get bored...but she is happy to play 'kill the soccorball' or 'wrestle with the rope' for hours alone...? what am I doing wrong? are some dogs just not 'fetchers'?
Posted by Lainey459
Dec 17, 2007
I had the same problem with my puppy until I realized that when he didnt want to play anymore, if I left it at that then he was the one choosing to end the game. So when I knew he was tiring of fetch I ended it first by getting the ball and putting it away.
He seemed to not like this much so every session after that he wanted to play a bit longer, I now have him playing with me for 6 minutes then I finish the game praising him and it seems, leaving him wanting more.
Another really odd thing my mother-in-law did was soak the tennis ball in beef stock so her dog wanted the ball and I was shocked that it worked!!!! Good Luck with this as it is a fun interaction for all the family
Posted by MartyEd
Dec 17, 2007
Hi there Annie,

Not fetching is a common problem many of our owners face, however with a little alpha training and off leash training you can usually set this problem right within 1 to 2 months. You should also try Lainey459's approach for a good short term fix. The key to overcoming this problem is to have strict control over you dog whenever she is off leash. This allows you to have her utmost attention at all times so that other things do not distract her away from the game of fetch. Rewarding and reprimanding as appropriate when at the park are very important. I would also encourage you, and any other family members, to read the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". This book will give you a good understanding of the hierarchical nature and behavior of your dog. Follow the tips in this book as much as possible and you should get good results within a couple of weeks. If you treat your dog as an equal it may well see it as an opportunity to challenge your position. For example, be aware that allowing your dog onto the couch, bed, etc will give it the leeway that it needs to be able to challenge your position as the alpha dog in the relationship. This behavior change may occur quite gradually, without you even noticing it, until your dog starts showing aggressive tendencies when you try to move it!

You should reprimand your dog for unacceptable behavior, no matter what that behavior is. If you do not reprimand your dogs poor behavior then it will feel that it has the right to behave that way and it will take much longer to correct the behavior. What I recommend you do, is the next time your dog acts poorly and exhibits dominant tendencies (growling), saturate your dog with the garden hose or a bucket of water, or if it is inside, throw a heavy blanket over your dog and be sure to reprimand it. DO NOT yell, as this has no effect on the dominant dog. Growl instead, use a guttural growl like " AAHHH!" instead of "No!", as this makes a sharper sound then "No" (If done correctly it may hurt your throat a little).

Please ensure you undertake the following techniques to reinforce your status as alpha dog

If you come across your dog while she is sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making her move so that you can pass by.

Generally I do not recommend people give their dogs bones as this encourages the aggression, because in the wild the alpha dog would be the only one to have the privilege of chewing the bones. The reason your dog growls at you when you approach it with a bone is because it believes that it has the right to the bone and is trying to discipline you for challenging your dog for its dominant role.

Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk your dog around the house on the leash, making your dog wait while you walk through doorways first. At mealtimes make sure that your dog or dogs eat after all of the humans have.

Do not feed your dog tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

Do not greet your dog straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call it to you.

When your dog wants to go outside for a walk, make it sit and wait until you are ready to go.
When you give a command make sure that you are in a position to enforce the action that you require from your dog, especially in the initial stages of Alpha Dog training. Also, use the Alarm-No-Command technique as described in the Alpha Dog bonus book to reprimand your dog if it does not obey your command.

Physical correction is generally not recommended. If you decide that you have no other option then please make sure that your dog is muzzled before you attempt any form of physical correction. See the Alpha Dog book for physical correction techniques.

It is vitally important that your dog has good all-round obedience skills. Regular training sessions are key to improving your dog's obedience responses and keeping it used to answering your commands. Concentrate on the sit and stay, down and stay, heel and wait commands.

Do not inadvertently reinforce poor behavior from your dog. You must be consistent in your attitude to your dog. For example, if your dog is allowed to jump on you when you are playing with it but is not allowed to jump up at any other time then how is it meant to know the difference?

By undertaking the above techniques in combination with some basic obedience commands such as Sit, Stay, Come and Heel, you should be able to get better control over her. Thankfully there are a few training techniques you can use to help him learn, that should be used in tandem with the Alpha Dog training and basic obedience training.
Having your dog run away when it is not on the leash is a relatively common problem and obviously it occurs when your dog refuses to obey your Come command. The solution to this problem is to train your dog more effectively so that it responds to your commands instead of ignoring them!
I think the best thing for you to do will be to Clicker train your dog. Review the section of the book on Clicker Training for a full description of Clicker Training. In your case, I think it is a good idea that you use a food reward training method sometimes, to help keep your dog motivated.
You can start with a food reward and gradually wean them off them by introducing a secondary reinforcement, such as a Clicker. You may think that your dog will only come to you for the food reward, however, in the process, they quickly learn what the Come command is, and what the click from the Clicker means too!
Clicker Training
If you start to train you dog with the Clicker, you will find this very helpful when your dog decides to take off. For example, The second your dog turns to look at you, you should (after teaching her what the Clicker means) click the Clicker as if to reward your dog for looking over at you. This may help entice her to make a decision to turn back again.
An example on training your dog to respond to the Clicker:
• Ask your dog to sit; for example, say "SIT!" (always use its name in front of a command as this trains them to respond to their name),
• Then when your dog obeys, click the Clicker (you can find these at most pet stores), and follow the click quickly with praise/reward.
• Be consistent with your training and be rigorous when you are training your dog.
Then for the Come command do the same thing.
• Say "COME!" and when your dog even moves a little towards you, click the Clicker and then hold out a treat (just to get your dog anticipating the Clicker as a good thing!). Pretty soon you will not need to use treats all the time, the vocal praise with the Clicker will be enough (however it is a good idea to sometimes reinforce the obedience from time to time with treats).
• It is also a good idea that you use hand signals when you are training your dog so that when your dog is in the distance, but can still see you, it will know what you are commanding and you will not have to yell.
• Practice asking your dog to come inside your home too.
• Never call your dog to you for something she will not like (e.g. a bath, or to be told off) as this will hinder your dog's trust in you.
It is very important with the Come command that you keep practicing it. In fact, I recommend this is something you practice through-out the life of your dog.
I also recommend that you:
• Read the "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog" bonus book so that your dog respects your commands more! Sometimes treat your dog with a food reward,
• Sometimes treat your dog with its favorite toy,
• Always give verbal praise and a pat, and make a big deal when your dog does come to you (even if your dog takes its time).
This way your dog can only anticipate that there may be a food reward, but doesn't rely on it as the reward is always positive anyway.
This may be the best way of getting your dog’s attention while off leash and will ultimately help with the games of fetch. Also try Lainey459’s advice as this may also well be of use to you and your dog. Best of luck and please let us know how you get on with the training!

Kind Regards,

Mark Edwards
SitStayFetch Team