Ball drive? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 263 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 04:04 AM Thread Starter
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Ball drive?

Is it too late to teach ball drive? Is this a learned behaviour? How do you teach it?

Stark is totally tug motivated but he doesn't really have any ball drive, unless it is a new ball that he hasn't seen he could pretty much care less about them.

I am finding it difficult in obedience to get something he will really focus on, food isn't a big motivator anymore either (have tried EVERYTHING). It could be his age but I would like to try to increase his ball drive a bit so I can use the chin and armpit techniques with it.

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post #2 of 263 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 04:12 AM
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Some dogs have strong preference for one type of toy over another. If he isn't interested in a ball, but will get all excited for a tug, then use a tug for training. A bit gross when they get all slimey, but you can use the tug the same way you would use a ball: hold it under your armpit or your chin.

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post #3 of 263 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 08:43 AM
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Tug is just as good as a ball. Ivan Balabanov and Michael Ellis both teach play with tug first. Ellis's last DVD is actually called "Power of Playing Tug with Your Dog".

Here's a short clip of Ivan tugging with a young dog.

http://www.youtube.com/user/OtVitosha#p/u/6/Z625ZI1uPXk

Ball on a string is kind of tricky for some dogs anyway. A third of the time they get the ball, a third of the time they get the string, a third of time they get you.

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post #4 of 263 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 09:30 AM
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Karlo is food motivated as well as tug/ball. I prefer the tug for now because of the reasons Jason posted above. Karlo is quick and my hands are stiff, so I tend to get in the way of his target now and then! I use two french linen tugs(2 handle) and they work fine for focus and obedience.
I also use food, and then switch to tug to mix things up, keep him interested.

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post #5 of 263 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 10:41 AM
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It is very easy to teach ball fetching when your dog is tug motivated, I've done that (with Yana). You throw a ball, not far, the dog goes to investigate, you show him a tug and when he brings the ball to you you play a few seconds, then repeat. I actually started throwing dumbbells and sticks first, rewarded with the tug, then substituted the dumbbells with a ball. She still was more obsessed with the tug but she developed a huge interest in ball play as well.

I don't think you can teach the ball drive or any other drive, though. You can only bring out what is already in there.


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post #6 of 263 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 10:45 AM
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I think they either LOVE tennis balls, or dont.
Kilo would DIE for a ball.
My gfs shepherd....not so much.

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post #7 of 263 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 10:57 AM
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You use a ball the same way you use a tug. You can throw your tug for retrieve games, you can put it under your arm, etc. You can back tie your dog and tease with the new toy to build enthusiasm. Toys all pretty much work the same way.

If you want to use a ball (I do, personally I find them easier to work with than the majority of tugs) I would suggest looking into a rope ball. Like this one.
Booda Wing-A-Ball - Large - - DogToys.com
They're easier on your hands and give the dog something better to grip than the more traditional rubber balls on rope.

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post #8 of 263 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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He will retrieve the ball and play with them if I am playing with them but he does loose interest quite quickly with it, not a "crazy for the ball" kind of dog.

I thought the ball would be easier to work with but I guess I can keep using the tug since it is working. We have several balls on string and training items like which is why I wanted to increase his interest.

His prey drive is amazing, his food and ball.. not so much.

I just thought it would be eaiser for me to use a ball, but if others are saying no then I will just stick with what we have.

Thanks guys!

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post #9 of 263 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 11:57 AM
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I've read somewhere a very good advice long time ago. It was suggested to use a variety of toys of different kinds to motivate your dog so your dog is not attached to anything in particular but just to interaction with you no matter what you choose. In that case you'll never be in a situation when, for example, your dog can't perform because his favorite toy was destroyed or forgotten at home.

It made sense to me and that's why I play with absolutely everything. Anton was oblivious to sticks at first but now he got used to them and it's a great way to do some training when we are hiking (like healing nicely with and without attention), or let him swim and retrieve in the river. I just don't like to carry lots of special stuff around and believe that we motivate our dogs, not the special toys. If I can't find a stick we can work with a little tree branch with leaves, or with my glove (old one ), or my keys, or for letting him jump on me. Anton is absolutely not food motivated and also wouldn't play with toys on his own, his eyes start sparkling only in anticipation of interaction. Just some food for thought!


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post #10 of 263 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 12:32 PM
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I think ball drive is a bit different than retrieving/fetching. It's not the same as simply interacting with a toy. At least when Nikon is doing these activities, his behavior is a bit different. As a puppy, he would chase down and "fetch" balls, but I would not say he had a lot of ball drive. If the ball was not being thrown, he really had little interest in it, and his interest was all "reactive" (meaning *I* had to work hard to keep the ball moving or he just didn't care).

When we started Schutzhund, we basically spent the first 5 months of training developing his ball drive. Now, it doesn't matter if the ball is moving or what I am doing. If the ball is out, he is crazy for it. He will bark and throw behaviors at me trying to win the ball. He's gone from being "reactive" to "proactive".

The main thing we did was just tease him up. No obedience, no outs, no working on tugging or retrieving or anything like that....just teasing him with the ball to get him excited about it. The easiest way is to back tie the dog on a harness or have someone else be a post and hold the line, so that you can control the ball and the dog.

The ball you use should be special, meaning he only gets to have it when you take it out to work. Also, keep the sessions short and put the ball away while he's still intense, not when he starts to tire out or lose interest.

As to what Oksana is saying, I have found that once the drive is there and the dog *understands* how the toys work, the drive carries over. It doesn't matter if I have a ball or a tug or a dumbell or a washcloth....once I "turn on" the dog he is motivated to work with that object.

One thing I see people do wrong is use way too much obedience. It took me months before I was able to somewhat fluidly use the ball/toy as part of obedience training and use it effectively. The first several months, we separated obedience and drive building. My dog will work for food so I used that until I could use the toy right. It's almost like learning a choreographed dance! But once it fell into place, the dog learned and caught up very quickly. I still use food when introducing a new behavior, because it's not always appropriate to have the dog really hyped up in drive.

I sometimes use a tug but for the most part prefer the ball. We have less targeting issues, no "chewing" on the ball like many dogs do on a tug, the ball is super easy to tuck in my armpit or under my chin, and it's actually easier for me to tug with a ball than with a tug. If you use the ball, like Jason said you will have to do some work initially to make sure the dog targets the ball. Most of them want the string or the knot. At first, just hold the string in your fist about an inch from the ball. If the dog does get the string, take him off the ball (no game). Nikon went after the string at first but with some deliberate work, that lasted all of about five minutes, lol. Now if he misses and gets the string he will instantly adjust down to the ball rather than the other way around.
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