Ball Fetching Obsession

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Ball Fetching Obsession

This is a discussion on Ball Fetching Obsession within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I'm calling this a fetching obsession, not a ball obsession. I've made it clear to my dog that I am the owner of the ball ...

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Old 11-06-2011, 03:26 PM
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Ball Fetching Obsession

I'm calling this a fetching obsession, not a ball obsession. I've made it clear to my dog that I am the owner of the ball and anyone elses ball. He's also not possessive of it when other dogs are around, and will not attack or warn another dog off his ball (if they go near or pick it up), he'll let them have it and wait for them to drop it. He'll leave it or drop it whenever I tell him to. But he's definitely obsessed with fetching. His tail is wagging very quickly the whole time. It seems like a job to him that fulfills him. But the one thing I'm worried about is that occasionally when other dogs approach him he will lash out at them, because he does not want to be bothered when playing fetch. He was very friendly before, and usually doesn't lash out, and is still fairly friendly when when I don't have the ball. What will happen is when a younger dog comes by to sniff him (when playing fetch), when he is waiting for me to throw the ball, he will typically ignore them, but if the dog keeps sniffing or trying to play with him, he will lash out, not to fight, but as a warning to leave him alone (because he is obviously busy). More mature dogs typically either don't approach him when he's fetching, or sniff him once and move on, so they don't get a lashing. From what I understand, my dog's warning lash is typical behaviour for a dog to tell another dog they are not interested in being social. But the problem is when he does this to a pitbull or a dominant dog, they sometimes snap back and a fight is started.

I'm training my dog to lay down when I throw the ball, and saying "okay" to release him. But that doesn't help his behaviour towards other dogs when there are other dogs around. He is just not interested in other dogs when we are playing fetch. However, he will briefly say hi to other people when they call to him. He is very obediant when we play fetch, but I'm not sure how to deal with this behaviour to other dogs. I see other dogs with the same behaviour at the park (but they are usually possessive of the ball as well).

Any advice?
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Old 11-09-2011, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Janina5309 View Post
I'm calling this a fetching obsession, not a ball obsession. I've made it clear to my dog that I am the owner of the ball and anyone elses ball. He's also not possessive of it when other dogs are around, and will not attack or warn another dog off his ball (if they go near or pick it up), he'll let them have it and wait for them to drop it. He'll leave it or drop it whenever I tell him to. But he's definitely obsessed with fetching. His tail is wagging very quickly the whole time. It seems like a job to him that fulfills him. But the one thing I'm worried about is that occasionally when other dogs approach him he will lash out at them, because he does not want to be bothered when playing fetch. He was very friendly before, and usually doesn't lash out, and is still fairly friendly when when I don't have the ball. What will happen is when a younger dog comes by to sniff him (when playing fetch), when he is waiting for me to throw the ball, he will typically ignore them, but if the dog keeps sniffing or trying to play with him, he will lash out, not to fight, but as a warning to leave him alone (because he is obviously busy). More mature dogs typically either don't approach him when he's fetching, or sniff him once and move on, so they don't get a lashing. From what I understand, my dog's warning lash is typical behaviour for a dog to tell another dog they are not interested in being social. But the problem is when he does this to a pitbull or a dominant dog, they sometimes snap back and a fight is started.
It sounds like the other dogs might be starting the fight. He is telling them to leave him alone, yes, and they aren't listening. Not sure this is the right direction, but I'd probably work on an alternate behavior that you can immediately do instead of fetch when another dog approaches. Heavily reinforce that. Maybe a recall, sit-stay? Something to get him in a different focus besides fetching. Then treat heavily for calm behavior of the other dog approaching/greeting.

Is he clicker trained? If not, it would really help in training all of this. As far as snapping at other dogs, not all dogs are social butterflies, but if you want to condition him better to other dogs, you could work on some of the games that are played with reactive dogs. Over time, his threshold to other dogs getting in his space would build, so he would snap less.

FWIW, there's no real "dominance" in dogs, and dominance-based training is BS, so you "owning" the ball doesn't mean anything to your dog.
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