Hey guys I have a little problem with my girl Amelia. She will be 6 months old this coming week. She had a bit of an obsession with balls. Everytime we go to the dog park she will go find her a tennis ball and carry it around with her. It normally isn't a problem until this past week. She is now getting possessive and when she lays down with the ball if another dog comes up to her she will growl and sometimes snap at them.
First of all to tell you - it is not somthing negative, but absolutely opposite - such interest in balls is very positive character in GSD
, and many GSD owners would simply envy you that you have a dog with working capabilities. Take her ball in your hand and make it the major tool in training for absolutely everything: heel off leash, walking backwards, search, commands by gesture from distance, I cannot name any command which wouldn't include throwing the ball for your dog as a reward
instead of food treats. The ball becomes a conditioned reinforcer. Being ball mad and posessive of toys are necessary qualities for Schutzhund sport dog
. High interest in balls is indication of a high prey drive
, and posessiveness indicate at the ability to hold it ( at one moment in Schutz training the ball on the rope is swapped for a sleeve which your dog finally comes into posession). So, if you didn't consider Schutzhund club, I highly recommend you to, at least, evaluate your puppy there. It is a lot of fun and a lot of self-satisfaction if your dog turns a successful player.
Your problem - is her conflict over balls with other dogs. I can reassure you, it is not something difficult to train out. Everything you have to do is - ask her to remain in down position ( command "Down" every time she reveals such behaviour) , remove ball from her mouth and give it into the mouth of that dog she growls at. It works as a sort of punishment when you give the ball to other dog, no other words required except "Down" command. She should remain in down position until the ball is back into your hands, and praise her for being obedient by throwing the ball for her a bit away from other dogs. That fact that she just growls - is her age, if you don't train her now she will start to bite later. Training comes through repetition, finally she shouldn't react in this way, but rather be quick to fetch it before other dog does it. Of course, the playground involves many different situations, but she should learn that her negative response to the other dog's attempt to deprive her from the prey object (ball) always ends with the loss and boring down position. On other hand - that should be every decent doggy park or playground ethics - the dog should chase the ball thrown by the owner
, and not to chase other people's and their dogs' toys. Try to be diplomatic and explain that to other owners, because toys often cause dog fights.