fetch and drop-it challenges - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 02:06 PM Thread Starter
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fetch and drop-it challenges

Greetings!!

Step by step she is now going on 8 month! a lot of progress, overall doing well, still this adolescent stage is...well you know... anyway, there are two things now that im stuck with. We have been working on drop-it command and fetch for almost 6 weeks now very intensely, but there are a few problems i feel stuck with, maybe someone has helpful advice.

I work on drop-it with the flirt-pole, after she catches the lure, we play tug for a bit and then i do the drop-it. I have train the drop-it before on a controled way and she knows the command - i think - but even after weeks now of repeating, it takes a loooooonggg time.. i stop the tug, hold the toy in my hand firmly and I say 'drop-it' she just stares and me, not moving.. after a while i say 'no' and repeat teh command.. sometimes i have to repeat it 4 or 5 times, usually with a 'firm' or even 'harsher' tone of no.. drop-it - then she releases, immedialty i say 'yes' and throw the toy in the ground.... but ive been doing over this for weeks now. i see no improvement.. any ideas of what im doing wrong?


Fetch.. that has been hard. I started with a line, to reel her in. so she is kind of conditioned now to walk towards me after grabbing the ball.. but the thing is, even when I was practicing fetch with the line (im not anymore), the moment she grabs the ball, she goes into a chewing mode, i can tell by the look in her eyes, 'she is not there'.. totally gone, just chewing on it, even if I reel her in, when she gets close to me.. still in that 'chewing planet'.. i tried at the moment she is close to me, take the ball and reward.. but she is so much 'gone into chewing' that i dont see its clicking for her at all - there is no connection.
So i changed to train fetch together with the flirt pole, as she is obcessive about it, even more than food. so we play flirt pole for a bit, then I throw a ball, and she onlhy gets to play with the flirt-pole after she brings me the ball.. I managed to overcome the first hurdle, which was she chases the ball, gets it, immediatly drops it and runs back to play.. i managed to correct that, and she doesnt drop it immediatly and walks over with it... but then the problems start.. she wont drop it near me.. she deliberaly avoids that in fact.. she might walk past me a few feet and circle , and drops it away from me. if i try to correct that with a 'no' the moment she drops it far away, she will get it again (she got that already), and then goes back into that 'chewing mode'. sometimes , i dont know, she will do the right thing, drop it near me in one go, i reward and play - but even though this happened a few times, its very rare, sometthing is not clicking here and tried the general things: run from her to make her come to me, the line, but as I said above its not working for some reason.

thanks!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 02:22 PM
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Bring a toy back and outing it are about trust. If the dog doesn't trust you to be fair about it you will have issues.

I found playing two ball to be a good way to play fetch with less conflict. I will also teach the dog to transfer to a second ball. Tug a bit with one, stop, bring out a second, tease a little if needed then mark when the dog releases the first ball. Once that is happening easily with the presentation of the second ball I'll add a cue to it.

Repeating commands just makes them meaningless for the dog. I would stop using an out command until the dog is outing 90 - 95% of the time. I teach an out by immobilizing the toy, I like to use a tug because it is easier for me to immobilize than a ball. For the first few lessons you may be waiting a long time before the dog out, be patient. I like to mark the release with a click and let the dog rebite, tug a bit, then immobilize the tug again. I only do this for a few minutes then we are done. Once the dog is outing quickly when I immobilize the toy then I will add the cue. I like to proof in a few different places before adding the cue to make sure the dog truly understand the game.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
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Bring a toy back and outing it are about trust. If the dog doesn't trust you to be fair about it you will have issues.

I found playing two ball to be a good way to play fetch with less conflict. I will also teach the dog to transfer to a second ball. Tug a bit with one, stop, bring out a second, tease a little if needed then mark when the dog releases the first ball. Once that is happening easily with the presentation of the second ball I'll add a cue to it.

Repeating commands just makes them meaningless for the dog. I would stop using an out command until the dog is outing 90 - 95% of the time. I teach an out by immobilizing the toy, I like to use a tug because it is easier for me to immobilize than a ball. For the first few lessons you may be waiting a long time before the dog out, be patient. I like to mark the release with a click and let the dog rebite, tug a bit, then immobilize the tug again. I only do this for a few minutes then we are done. Once the dog is outing quickly when I immobilize the toy then I will add the cue. I like to proof in a few different places before adding the cue to make sure the dog truly understand the game.
Thanks. about the trust - not sure what to make of that.. im very careful never to end play when she brings a toy or gives a toy back, we always keep playing for that reason. I always end play just mid-way at random times, with a praise, but never after she comes to me, returns a toy or brings a toy.

As for the swap - yeah thats why i stopped using food for fetch and starting using the flirtpole toy - but how to swap if she wont even walk to me with the first ball? she just walks around in circles chewing on it...
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 03:15 PM
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Have you tried a ball on a string or a kong on a rope? Have two of them. I like the string because we can tug and I can tease by swinging it around. It is easier with the string to make the game interactive, the dog pushes back at you to play with him. I would think if the dog checks out then the drive for that toy may not be high enough and might need to be built for that toy or try another toy. I know my dog has his favorite toys. Maybe cut back on the rules a little for the time and focus on getting her to enjoy the game. Maybe have toys scattered throw one she chases you run to another throw it get wild get the energy up. 8 months is still pretty young imho

When my pup was very young I would throw a ball he would chase get the ball then he would take it and go lay down with it. I would go to him and pet him sit near him. Making it about him not the toy. After a time he would drop the ball or I would take it gently. Then I would go back to the exact spot I threw it from and get his attention and throw again. This was before I thought to use two toys, it did work it took awhile but in the end it worked.

Hope you can find something help in there I am just a novice.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 03:19 PM
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My puppy initially did the same thing, she would grab the ball but never bring it back. I got passed that by bending or squatting down and being very animated. She was so interested in why I was acting like a maniac that she'd bring the ball back without even thinking about it. Lavish praise when she'd get to me with the ball still in her mouth! But I didn't take it or even try to get her to drop it...again, initially. Once she was bring it back dependably for praise, I introduced a treat, so she'd have to let go of the ball.

All dogs are different, but animation, and one step at a time seemed to work well for us. She'll play fetch for hours now, and consistently drop it at my feet without being told anything, now that she understands how the game is played...
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by shanti View Post
Thanks. about the trust - not sure what to make of that.. im very careful never to end play when she brings a toy or gives a toy back, we always keep playing for that reason. I always end play just mid-way at random times, with a praise, but never after she comes to me, returns a toy or brings a toy.
So how do you get the toy back to end a session?

As for the swap - yeah thats why i stopped using food for fetch and starting using the flirtpole toy - but how to swap if she wont even walk to me with the first ball? she just walks around in circles chewing on it...[/QUOTE]

If she won't return to you I'd break that piece out an work on it separately. I like to do food tosses. This works best on a hard surface like concrete. I will get the pup's attention and throw a piece of food, when they turn back toward me I mark and throw another piece in the opposite direction. This will condition a quick turn back and running to you. Once you get that happening reliably with food you can switch to a ball and do the same thing with two balls. Don't expect perfection, look for a lot of motivation for the game and worry about making it pretty later.

I think you may be overthinking things and trying to add in too rules before you have a ton of motivation for the game. I personally don't use a longline to get my puppy back to me. I want my puppy to make the choice to return to me, not return because there is no other choice.

How motivated is your puppy to engage with you during a normal training session?

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
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So how do you get the toy back to end a session?



How motivated is your puppy to engage with you during a normal training session?
The main toy is the flirtpole... the session always ends with playing with the flirtpole. She is very motivated, she is crazy about the flirtpole. maybe i am putting too many demands too fast, that could be a factor yes i see that. but i thought that for a while, and accepted when she dropped the ball 10 feet from me, marked went to pick it up and reward with play. but i noticed that after a few times doing that, she started to drop the ball earlier and earlier, further away, because she is very eager to go and chase after the flirtpole lure. so i stopped rewarding those drops and insisted on closer.. but i think thats when she, (and me) got confused and not sure what to do with the ball hehe
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 05:03 PM
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So how do you get the flirt pole back?

If she is motivated for the ball I'd stop using the flirt pole. I used the flirt pole to build drive with my puppy because he had limited interest in toys. Once his drive was up I stopped using the flirt pole. You may causing too much confusion about what the game is about. The pole? The ball?

The reward for returning with the ball should be another ball, unequal rewards don't work well unless you condition it carefully. I wouldn't worry about where she drops the ball at first. Mark and toss another ball until you are seeing quick return to you with the thrown ball. Then you can be more selective about what you mark. I'd put away the toys for a few days and work on the food toss and conditioning the habit of quickly turning and running back to you. Then try it with two balls. Same thing, throw the ball, mark when she turns back and starts toward you and throw the 2nd ball. Don't worry about where is gets dropped. Do not ask for an out at the end. Go back to the house or whatever and trade a high value food reward for the ball. Forget about a cued out until you have a dog who is running back to you with the ball. Play for just a few minutes then stop. Going to long either pushes the dog to the point where the game stops being fun or the dog gets too aroused and they can't think or respond. Less is more.

What is her motivation like when toys are not present? Is she glued to you? Do you have to coach her to come engage with you or does she offer it on her own and push you to interact? If your dog is you to engage then the rest is easy. If you have an unwilling student things are much harder.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 07:17 PM
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I taught Drop by sticking my finger in my pup's mouth and that would cause her to open her mouth and release the ball. I'd then give praise. Later, I would say "drop" and she'd release and I'd give her a treat. Did that a little bit. She gets it now and if she's into playing some fetch, she has no problem with drop
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-20-2018, 08:31 AM Thread Starter
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So how do you get the flirt pole back?


What is her motivation like when toys are not present? Is she glued to you? Do you have to coach her to come engage with you or does she offer it on her own and push you to interact? If your dog is you to engage then the rest is easy. If you have an unwilling student things are much harder.
I always end the game randomly mid-play with the pole, never after she releases. and always with praise. she is motivated, the flirt-pole is much higher value for her than the ball. but now reading all the responses and reflecting, i think i messed up somewhere mid-way when started to demand too much and she got confused on what to do with the ball, and i wasnt sure how to correct.. and all became confusing. The food tosses you mentioned, how exactly you do that? you throw the food far away from you, or just close?

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