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April 8, 2013
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Michael Ellis School for Dog Trainers -- Time-Lapse Decoy Clinic

Michael Ellis School for Dog Trainers
Time-Lapse Decoy Clinic

Here's a time-lapse photography video of the first day of Protection 2 - Decoy Clinic. Check it out! And come join us next time!!

April 8, 2013   |   1 Minute, 37 Seconds

Leerburg Q&A
Ask your training question here

Question: 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?

Cindy's Response:

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.

I'd highly recommend the videos The Power of Training with Food and The Power of Playing Tug.

Cindy Rhodes

Another Question:

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 ;)

Cindy's Response:

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.

Cindy Rhodes


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. :)

For more questions on this topic, see our Q&A on Playing Tug.

We get a number of Q&As every week, if you would like to read this week's Q&As, click here and check out the 'Recent Questions' section!

Have a question for Ed & Cindy? Try the Leerburg Search Engine. This search engine was written specifically for Leerburg by our in house IT manager. Our search engine is specific to Leerburg and only searches and the Leerburg web forum. If you can't find the answer to your question by using our search engine, you can email Cindy here at Leerburg at If you have your spam filter on, make sure you set it to receive our replies!!!

Customer Comments

On Leerburg's Website

Hi Cindy and Ed, 

I wanted to thank you for your advice during the time I was raising my German Shepherd. Your suggestion for tethering was exactly what was needed, as well as advice on pack structure. My GS Sasha is now 19 months and has turned into a beautiful obedient and attentive dog. All this from a wild ball of crazy energy and independence. I recently bought the Einstein collar to solidify off leash training. I live on a farm and surrounded by bush and I had to correct her occasionally becoming fixated on & chasing stock or wildlife. Anyway, by the time the device arrived, and I had tuned it to her level, I never once had to use it. She has become 99% responsive to my voice commands. 1% to go... 

I want to sincerely thank you, because quite honestly, I don't think I could have managed raising a challenging puppy without your excellent advice. It is so generous of you to provide advice like this, I appreciate it very much indeed (the whole pack does). 

The Michael Ellis School for Dog Trainers

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