Fetch! Am I alone? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-26-2018, 08:38 AM Thread Starter
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Fetch! Am I alone?

Onto the next thing to learn for Ghost...

Of course at 5 months his attention span is zip.... but on the days he really needs to exhaust some bags of energy, we walk to the local dog park and i attempt to throw his favorite chew ball...
Once at the park though, he's more content with sniffing around. In the house, ill throw it, and he grabs it excitedly and runs it right back to his bed in the living room, even if i clap happily waiting for him, he'll run towards me then dash passed and land on his bed to chew.... and we try again, and again, and same... it wont sink in... at the park, either he ignores the ball or runs after it then leaves it...

Please, Id love nothing more than to play a game with my pup outside! the house can be restrictive!!!!!

Thanks for all the help!

Ghost -- All white GSD/Husky, rescued at 21 weeks, weighing 36 pounds, 1-9-18
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-26-2018, 08:58 AM
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Play fetch with your pup on a 30 ft line. When he grabs the toy give a tug on the line to bring him back in...not too hard or he'll drop the toy. When he gets back to you make it worth bringing the toy back. If it is a tug toy, play a little tug and let him win after a bit of competition. If he shoves the toy back at you for more wrestling, bingo, you are off to a good start. If it is a ball, when he comes back, toss another one right away. Keep swapping back and forth between balls. Balls on a rope are good for this. If he is food motivated when he brings back the toy, give a treat (no obedience yet). Then toss the toy again. If you like frisbee, try using the frisbee for a food plate and a touch pad, etc. Then when you play outside and he brings the disc back teach him to dash between your legs and toss it again. (just be careful of a lot of quick starts, stops and twists for a young dog)

and a little pro advice

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Last edited by car2ner; 01-26-2018 at 09:00 AM. Reason: added link
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-26-2018, 10:17 AM
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Try starting out by sitting on his bed. Make this your starting point until he gets the concept of returning to you.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-26-2018, 11:41 AM
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What Car2ner said! Another great exercise is to enlist a helper to do restrained recalls.

In a safe enclosed place with little distraction (your backyard is good for this), have the dog on a line and have your helper hold him back while you run away from him in a really excited fashion, waving a tug-toy around - like a rope toy or a ball on a rope, or any other toy her really likes to play with. Let puppy pull and go nuts wanting to get to you! Then when pup is excited, your helper lets him go, and let him run after you and let him catch you and the toy. Play with him, tugging, letting him win. Take hold of his leash/line, prevent him from running away from you, and continue moving backwards, all crazy and excited, calling him to focus on you, and grab the tug toy and tug some more.

Repeat a few times, keep the game going and exciting. Stop while your pup still wants to play - this will make it so that he looks forward to the next session. If you do this regularly (but don't over-do it), for a couple of weeks, I guarantee you will see results.

We had some people (Mom with teen-age daughter) with their rescue 3 yr old doberman come to our club for training. The dog would not chase anything and only wanted to hide behind mom, and/or sniff the ground.

We started them on restrained recalls, in a few sessions they had a different dog. This dog at first didn't even want to come out of its crate, it is now doing rag work with the helper. Biggest thing people have to learn is to not be afraid to be silly and crazy and make it fun for the dog.


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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-26-2018, 12:24 PM
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I think with a puppy that age, at the dog park, I'd consider tempering my expectations of what we want to get out of the park.

Even with my adult dog, when I take her to the park it is not a place for structured obedience or games. It's a place - the one place - where she's allowed to just run around and sniff and move at her own pace and be a dog. I make it a point not to issue obedience commands unless needed. I feel like giving too many commands in a place where there are all kinds of stimuli and she really just wants to let her hair down and enjoy herself is bordering on nagging and setting her up to fail. That's her time; I step in if needed and expect her to obey, but it isn't like a structured session. We hike and she can sniff and crash around to her heart's content.

If I want to play fetch, I take her to an empty field where the focus is the game. I don't take treats into the dog park, ever, but I will take them to an empty field and that helped with teaching her the game, too.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-26-2018, 12:42 PM
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Mine was very similar when he first came home. I utilized the methods Car2ner described above.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-26-2018, 12:53 PM
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Start with tug and teach him to release. Play tug and release for a few days. Then once he understands the fun of it, drop the toy next to you and he may very well return it to you for more tug. That is the first step to fetch. What you are trying is to expect him to know what in the world you are trying to accomplish. So start teaching and stop expecting. If he plays keep away, leave him by turning your back and do something else not dog-related.
My experience from reeling them in while holding a toy is to create resistance. You need to work with a free moving dog to allow him to learn from the inside out, making it his own decision. This sticks much better in his brain.
Anyway, you got several ideas, let us know what works. Always interesting to hear back.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-26-2018, 01:22 PM
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I agree with others. Dog park has too many distractions. Other than maybe a 2-3 week period, my now 8 month old has been reliably playing fetch since about 2-3 months. I have some very strict rules.

Fetch balls are never played with in the house and not chew toys in the house. He only has access to them during fetch so he knows exactly what they mean, and doesnít lose his passion for them by being just another toy around the house, thatís critical.

Also - if heís not bringing it back well, I would turn around and walk away and he usually follows or comes up. Itís also important not to hold onto it long when he releases, so his reward for bringing back and releasing is more fetch.

Even at 3 months I could go to a packed park (not dog park) filled with kids and leashes dogs, and as long as I had a ball to play fetch NOTHING took his attention. He fetched a ball far better than my lab ever did. If itís in the snow and he canít find it, he doesnít lose focus until he does. Itís insane.

Fetch is definitely somewhat of a genetic drive trait I believe, but training can still help a ton and is needed for it to be effective. One of my dogs brothers has no interest in playing fetch after talking to the owners. We made fetch a huge deal from day 1 and have worked on it 1-2x a day, virtually every day, since he was a very small pup.

It also makes it fun to see how fast their speed increases as they grow. So far the biggest jumps in athletic ability were between months 6 and 7.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-26-2018, 01:27 PM
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I think fetch and tug are learned if not done spontaneously yet. It may take longer for some dogs to catch on but so far every dog I owned did it. My Whippets would retrieve the lure at the trainings even.
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