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Categories: Recall and Come

Q. I love to play frisbee with my dog, but it won’t bring it back to me. Should I do a forced retrieve?
I want to train my lab to retrieve Frisbees, tennis balls, etc. She loves retrieving, but likes playing games of not really giving it to me when she returns. Would the Forced Retrieve video that you sell be a good idea, or is it really intended for competition dogs?

Bob

A. One of the things new trainers need to do is step back from a problem and analyze what is actually going on. Sometimes they confuse "what they want to have happen" with "what is actually happening." I think this is the case here. What you want to have happen is for the dog to retrieve the Frisbee and bring it back (with emphasis on bringing it back). Your thinking is that it is a forced retrieve situation, when in fact the dog is going out to get the Frisbee to retrieve it just fine. She is just not coming when you call.

Initially let her keep the Frisbee when she comes to you. She obviously likes it or she would not play. When you do take it away maybe you give her a treat or when she comes back you can have a second Frisbee and show it to her. Make her spit the first one out on the ground before throwing the second one. This works great with tennis balls also. I talk about it in my videos and call it the "2 ball game."

It does not take a dog long to learn that if they charge out to get the ball and run back they will be able to chase the second ball.

Once the dog learns this game you can add obedience to it by making it down after it spits the first ball out but before you toss the second ball. This is also called "training thru drive" and is always a better idea than using force as a first option.

If a dog will not play the 2 ball game (and very few will not) then you can look at a different approach.

You can look at this problem as a recall problem. It seems the distraction of the game is so strong the dog does not want to quit playing and come because she knows she is going to lose her toy - and that is no fun at all.

So you need to work on the recall under distraction. Go back to long line work (away from the Frisbee work see my - Basic Dog Obedience video). Take the dog to areas where there are other dogs and make her come every time. The emphasis needs to be placed on praise for the dog when she comes.

When the dog will do recalls under extreme distraction you can then go back to the Frisbee work. If she doesn't come, put a long line on and guide her back to you. If she drops the Frisbee and loses interest in it then you have another problem. But if you make a big enough deal about having her come back to you with the Frisbee this may help.
  
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