My dog is ball obsessed, she will never spit it out. Nothing works. Can you help?
I have a female pit bull, spayed, I've had her since she was 5 weeks old, she was born at the shelter and I'm a failed foster! She is now 3 years, went to puppy classes, obedience, agility, she is a phenomenal dog and I could probably take her on to do anything I chose to do with her as she is just that smart and obedient. That is until it comes to her tennis balls. She is so ball driven, and uses that as her reward system instead of food. This dog has no food drive whatsoever. Only ball drive. The problem is she will not let go of it. She loves squeaky toys, will squeak them until it falls apart or I say 'drop it' and she spits it out and forgets about it. With her ball, she will sit or down on command with the ball in her mouth, but she will just chomp chomp chomp on it frantically waiting for me to throw it...but it's still in her mouth. Food, another tennis ball, other commands, walking away from her, corrections..nothing works. Can you help?
The simple answer is to take all tennis balls out of the environment. Do not allow her access to them.
I would work on getting her to play with you in an interactive way (like playing tug).
With work on your part you could also get her to take food in training. It may mean manipulating her meals so she's eating during training but if you want to do it, it's possible.
Thank you so much for the reply. I'm just not getting back to my emails at work after a much needed break. I can take away the tennis balls, but do you think playing tug will be enough of an energy burner to tire her out? We do play tug some now, but it's not structured, the tug is always laying around for her to have whenever. I'll watch the video, but I bet I need to only take the tug out when I saw we play, and when I say we stop. Right?! Thanks again ;)
The rules of play should be governed by you, not the dog. Do not leave the tug laying around, it only comes out for play sessions. Playing tug with rules is more mentally and physically tiring than chasing a ball. I do both with my dogs and I find that a good session of tug is much more tiring for all of us. doing it properly is definitely a learned endeavor.
The fun and reinforcement also comes from interacting with you, not away from you like when they are obtaining a ball you throw away from you. It's a great relationship builder.
Thanks so much! I've been watching some of Michael's video clips on Leerburg's YouTube channel. I want them ALL!! Geeesh, I thought my dog was pretty amazing when it came to obedience work (except letting go of her ball!), but seeing how some of those dogs are makes me realize she could be so much better!
Thank you again, and I will be getting the two videos you recommended. :)