Article: The Trouble With "Fetch" - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-28-2017, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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Article: The Trouble With "Fetch"

The Cognitive Canine: The Trouble With "Fetch"

A few people in my network recently shared this article. I liked it.... there's a lot of talk here and in other groups about how to "burn energy" in working dog breeds. But creating an obsessive "fetchaholic" and encouraging that state of mind constantly is an interesting thing to think about.

I especially liked this quote....

Quote:
Not all exhaustion is created equal.

It is quite possible for a person to be exhausted and drained; while it is also quite possible to be exhausted and fulfilled; satisfied.
Thoughts?
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-28-2017, 11:10 AM
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I created a fetchaholic She gets so frentic and obsessed and now at 21 months old is only starting to be able to drop it, leave it and walk away with me. If some else is playing fetch with their dog and I catch her right away with leave it, she 'probably' will. If I'm not paying attention, she's gone and I have to go give the owner their ball back. I let her chase balls as a young puppy, it was cute for about 2 months, then I started playing fetch with her to run her and she had an intermittent front leg limp for ~6 months until she turned 1. If I get another high drive puppy, I won't play fetch with it until it's over 1.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-28-2017, 12:14 PM
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I read the article, I don't know if I agree with the basic premise. A dog with OCD fetch is created or at least allowed by the owner... there are ways to make fetch controlled with a beginning and an end so it's clear in the dog's head. To bring that "life and death" mindset out of it. Or at least to have pressure gauges in place to relieve that state of mind.

Fetch in different forms can be a really useful training tool. A dog prone to go into OCD fetch mode, probably won't be cured by off leash decompression hikes, although I certainly see their value (I go on one daily). You need to address that OCD issue, as well.

That is my primary issue with the article. A dog who gets OCD about fetch- you need to address that, at its root.

I probably do the opposite- not enough training and too much off leash mountain time, because it's what I love. So coming from the other end, there is much value in fetch and training times as well, you need both for balance! I make a point to work my dogs in some form daily, and fetch is part of that, usually.


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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-28-2017, 12:20 PM
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Also- I've seen dogs off leash get obsessed looking for moose, deer, chipmunks in the beautiful wilderness.

So, again, the obsessive hunting-fetching deal needs to be addressed, in whatever form it comes in. Off leash hikes also come with risks. A person needs to have reliable recall. If a dog is getting obsessed with a ball, they could easily get obsessed chasing a deer for miles.

It's all the same basic training, and the article fails to address this.


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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-28-2017, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WIBackpacker View Post
The Cognitive Canine: The Trouble With "Fetch"

A few people in my network recently shared this article. I liked it.... there's a lot of talk here and in other groups about how to "burn energy" in working dog breeds. But creating an obsessive "fetchaholic" and encouraging that state of mind constantly is an interesting thing to think about.

I especially liked this quote....



Thoughts?
Another Quote:
Quote:
You must observe your dog and try multiple avenues to know what the right answer is. There is nothing inherently wrong with a leash walk, a game of fetch, or a trot on a treadmill. We must observe our dogs to know what is best.
I think it can be easy to get carried away with something, when you have very drivey dog. She's not saying an off leash walk in the woods is the answer to everything anymore then throwing a ball is. Dogs look for satisfaction, you don't want to make them dependent on one single, absolute thing to get it.

Doc

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-28-2017, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Strom View Post
I think it can be easy to get carried away with something, when you have very drivey dog. She's not saying an off leash walk in the woods is the answer to everything anymore then throwing a ball is. Dogs look for satisfaction, you don't want to make them dependent on one single, absolute thing to get it.
That's also how I interpreted the take-away message, and what I like about the article.

I'm not anti-fetch at all, I like ending the day throwing floating stuff into the lake so the dogs can swim around. I do think this author paints a pretty vivid mental image of creating an obsessive dog without other meaningful activities in the human/canine partnership.

The Australian cattle dog I inherited came from a previous home where Chuck-It was her daily exercise.... her daily "work", per se. Owner came home from work every day and played wild two-ball on a big property every day, she loved it, she was in great physical condition. Even after she moved in with me, her obsession with The Sacred Chuck-It Device was so intense it was annoying. You couldn't have the launcher anywhere in her line of sight, we had to store it in our detached garage. Removing it helped her start to act more like a normal dog.... eventually, she stopped frantically hunting for the launcher every time the door opened, and she could be content to hang out in the yard or go on a walk or whatever.

Balance, for sure.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-28-2017, 02:19 PM
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I completely agree about balance!

I was responding to the problem I found with the article, that the obsessive behavior does need to be addressed directly and in context, in my opinion and experience.

Maybe more so when it comes to off leash hikes where you can't just put away the deer or moose or chipmunks. I guess I'm coming into it backwards, but I haven't had a problem with fetch- game ends and the stuff is put away. But I have had more an obsession problem with "crittering" and that is really what started my training journey originally with my first dog who was a real hunter and quite obsessed.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-28-2017, 03:15 PM
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I think the author fails to provide any practical answers for people who don't live close to a place to hike...or any alternatives to hiking. I also think the point of balance is generally missed. As is the absence of the recommendation to, you know, teaching your dog to be off leash without running off into the wild blue yonder after a deer/living thing.

Also not a fan of poo-pooing agility or other competitive things. So she doesn't want people to play fetch, and she also looks down on agility.

But I see her point. You shouldn't use fetch as the only source of intense exercise for a dog. A few days a week, sure. Throw some training in while you're at it. Then go do something else that's fun for the dog.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-28-2017, 03:21 PM
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But aren't a lot of aussies and border collies OCD?
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-28-2017, 03:33 PM
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There is a big difference between getting the dog addicted to a game and creating obsession for the object you use to play the game. Addiction to the game is great. The dog wants to play but it takes two to play and if you have a clear start and stop cue and the dog is not initiating the game you're gold. If you create an obsession for the ball or Frisbee and the dog is able to initiate the game by staring at it or constantly dropping it in your lap then yes you have a problem.

The trainer that wrote that is clueless.

I have a ritual with my dogs. I put one outside to pee and poop first. I walk out with the frisbee hidden. I cue the dog that play is going to start "You wanna play?" Dog looks at me all excited and we go down to the field where we do it. I hit the timer on my watch so that I know how long hes been at it and when the break needs to occur based somewhat on randomness but also on his current level of conditioning and the temperature outside. I then pull the frisbee out and throw when the dog is staring at me. The dog runs it down catches and comes back and we play till the time for break hits. On the throw before the break I always tell him last one before I throw it. When he hits his target time and makes the last catch I tell him "that's it" and "take a break." He doesn't even bother coming back to return it because he knows that's it for that round and goes running to where I have a kiddie pool filled with water to cool down and he takes his break in there to get his body temp back to normal. I sometimes let him keep the frisbee through his break but sometimes I take it to clean it off. Who has the frisbee during the break is not critical so sometimes I just let him possess it. He relaxes in the pool and we wait around together until he looks ready for another round. To start the next round I will cue him again "Are you ready?" When I get eye contact I signal "yes" and on that cue he takes off running back to the field we start to play again. There are clear starts and stops. I do not let him initiate new rounds or end rounds on his own. Starts and stops are entirely contingent on me and he cannot goad me into starting the game when I don't want to. I will not start a round when he wants me to start one. I start rounds when he is patiently waiting calmly and that is the state of mind he remains in during the break because that is the state of mind that gets the game to continue.
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You will walk when it is time to walk

Last edited by Baillif; 05-28-2017 at 03:35 PM.
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