So I have another question, I hope people don't get sick of me! There is just too much to learn!
I have read through a ton of threads on engagement but I am still a bit unsure what approach I should take and stick with.
I have a 6 month adopted GSD puppy, have had him for 6 weeks. We spend a lot of time playing in the back yard. This started out as me just trying to get his energy out, but has now turned into me realizing how amazing engagement is and I want to make our sessions more fun. This was mainly triggered by his total disinterest in me with distractions when being outside the house.
I am obviously not being exciting enough but am having a hard time, he is not responding like other dogs I have had. Let me see if I can try explain quick.
He seems to enjoy chasing things, at first it was his tennis balls. He used to be obsessed but has recently gotten bored. I was sort of working on the retrieve during fetch but these days he chases the ball for maybe 3 throws then will lose interest, or he will chase it but get to it and leave it and go off to chew a stick.
I started 2 ball which helped but he has gotten bored again. I bought a squeaker kong ball he is WAY more into and if I keep the toy up and sessions short he will chase that pretty well, but still bored after a few throws.
My main goal was tug after seeing the Michael Ellis videos. I understand my dog does not have the same drive but I still need engagement for obedience outside the house/yard. He does like tug, unfortunately after getting sore gums with too hard a tug his grip got weak, I have gone back to a soft rag and reintroducing the game, letting him win lots it is going well. I have to keep the sessions really short though again he loses interest pretty quick. He seriously just wants to lie down and EAT sticks (that's another issue)
Okay. Now to my problem. I think he is having an okay time playing but it feels kind of forced. Like I can't find what makes him tick. Well actually, I KNOW what he really wants to do. It is play "keep away." He ADORES being chased. I have never seen him so happy/alive! I only did it about 3 times then realized it was causing way too many problems when he got a forbidden item or during tug and fetch.
He gets excited enough when I whip out the tug toy. I tease him a little with it and amp him up and then let him grab it. He gets into it enough that I have gotten bitten hard a few times by a miss, oh well. I will sometimes tug sometimes let him have it pretty fast, he is tugging decently hard again. He runs off with it when he wins and wants to play keep away. I read about playing tug with a leash, I tried but got frustrated so instead I would try encourage him back but not take a step towards him. Eventually he gets bored and brings me the tug back to restart play. I praise heavily and get all animated and tug with him again. But he never gets to the point that he is bringing it back with any energy and if I go for too long he loses interest in the game. I just want more energy
It's like everything is in molasses lol. Sometimes when he just drops the ball or tug on the way back during a game I just go sit down on my lawn chair. He almost always sees this and immediately brings me a stick or ball or the tug. So I KNOW he wants to interact with me?! But if I stand up all happy with a toy and try initiate play he will often go for a few seconds then lie down and chew a stick. It's a bit frustrating to be honest. I must be doing something very wrong. If i didn't know any better I would think he just wants to lie on the lawn with me and get belly rubs (that would be no problem!) but he gnaws on my arm and gets riled up lol. Today When he seemed to lose interest I just went and sat on the lawn, he came and lay by me and chewed his stick, then after about 5 minutes he sniffed out his squeaky ball in my pocket and I laughed and threw it he was sort of excited again...I just can't figure him out lol.
Now I read a lot about me needing to be the most fun thing ever. But I have a problem. He does not get excited at all by any of my running around and away, happy squeaky voice, falling on the floor calling (I feel like a total moron in my yard where everyone can see me...) He just stares at me. I just wish I could find another game that he puts as much energy into as "keep away" oh the happy smile was priceless! There has to be something else we can try?
It might be worth mentioning, since he seems so obsessed with sticks, I try play with those. It's actually pretty successful but playing fetch/ tug with a stick is so irritating and sore! I am trying to turn the tables and get him to chase the stick I have instead of me chasing him. This is moderately successful.
Oh also, I have tried the flirt pole. He is so-so. loses interest after a few times whether I let him catch a lot or not. I am going to try make a custom one with a stick and a plastic bottle...
Sorry for the long post, it's so hard to explain. Do I just keep it up? Should I try a more interesting toy? I so desperately need his focus more outside the home and lunch time plays are getting boring/ frustrating