Prey drive games (balls, sticks, fetch etc.) - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-22-2010, 03:04 AM Thread Starter
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Prey drive games (balls, sticks, fetch etc.)

I've read very differing opinions on whether to do these types of exercises (chucking balls / sticks etc.) or not. Some claim it can create a permanently increased stress level in the dog and shouldn't be done more than once or twice per week, while some claim it doesn't make any difference.

When dogs are playing with eachother, it seems they're mostly doing chasing / playbite, which I guess would fall under the same category as throwing sticks?

What are your experiences with this?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-22-2010, 03:24 AM
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I never throw sticks because of the risk of splinters in the throat, no point in going to the vet if it can be avoided. I always use balls on ropes, but never let the dog have them by herself, she has enough other toys, the ball is the 'special' toy only to be used with me. I use it as a method of focus.

If your after getting the dog to fetch buy two identical balls, throw one retain the other. It doesn't take them long to learn as they return one the other gets thrown. If the dog drops the ball on return throw the other ball but don't let the dog see you pick the semi returned ball up. After a while you get to the stage where the dog will almost try to put it in your hand waiting for it to be thrown again.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-22-2010, 03:30 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HMV View Post
I never throw sticks because of the risk of splinters in the throat, no point in going to the vet if it can be avoided. I always use balls on ropes, but never let the dog have them by herself, she has enough other toys, the ball is the 'special' toy only to be used with me. I use it as a method of focus.

If your after getting the dog to fetch buy two identical balls, throw one retain the other. It doesn't take them long to learn as they return one the other gets thrown. If the dog drops the ball on return throw the other ball but don't let the dog see you pick the semi returned ball up. After a while you get to the stage where the dog will almost try to put it in your hand waiting for it to be thrown again.
I think you may have misunderstood me (or my writing was imprecise). What I was concerned about is mostly whether these types of games can create a high stress level in the dog (General Adaption Syndrome) :-)
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-22-2010, 03:45 AM
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So what's the theory behind it inducing stress? I would have thought that just as humans do exercise like a daily jog around the park etc as a method of stress relief that the same would apply to dogs, running after the ball is after all a method of exercise, especially as it's done on a fun basis. What about gun dogs, which are specifically bred to retrieve, how does the theory of stress relate to them?
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-22-2010, 03:50 AM Thread Starter
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The theory is that in order to be successful in their hunt, dogs will, as a part of the hunt, release adrenaline in their body in order to give that extra last "push". However, if they do this on a daily basis, their adrenaline level becomes permanently high, because they don't get to wind down after (it takes about 48 hours for the adrenaline to clear the system), and the body adapts to the condition. Symptoms of GAS is typically lowered concentration level and learning ability, but increased willingness to work physically (run, jump, dig etc.).

I'm just citing this, it's not stuff I necessarily agree with or believe in
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-22-2010, 02:28 PM
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I don't see how playing with your dog could be a bad thing. There's good stress and bad stress, there's mild stress and severe stress, it's not always a negative thing - even fun happy experiences can be stressful, and that stress-relieving jog causes a certain amount of stress too. So while I agree that bad stress (negative experiences, which can be physical, such as starvation, or emotional, such as fear) can be detrimental to your dog's overall health, playing fetch just isn't comparable.

My dogs only get the kind of vigorous exercise you describe once a week because we have a very small yard and need to take them somewhere in order to really chuck a ball and let them run free, but that's a simply a logistical issue, I'd do it more often if I had the space here at home. They've adapted well to our routine though, even though they don't get nearly as much exercise as many other GSD owners provide, they are quite calm around the house. They do have their occasional activity periods of chasing each other and rolling around on the floor together, but they're not bouncing off the walls and driving us crazy, and they sleep a lot during the day.

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-24-2010, 08:19 AM
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I have worked and trained working dogs for over 25 years and playing fetch games and other retriveal games is a great stress reliever and it helps build there stamina. The only way it may hurt you is if you do it with muti dogs and one always wins or they fight for toy, but other then that it is a must thing to do unless you can run about 5-6 miles a day, thanks Jimmy
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-24-2010, 09:17 AM
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Are you talking about some ideas like those of Turid Rugaas? I had been reading her as well and she has much different ideas about stress in dogs than what I had been familiar with before.
Here's an example of something from her website:
Questions & Ansvers from Turid Rugaas
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-24-2010, 09:22 AM
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We play fetch with all our dogs. The only thing I can think of that we do differently than the average person is that we won't take the ball away at all in the beginning. We'll throw the ball, let the puppy run go grab it, encourage him to come back and pet him when he gets to us. But as long as he wants to carry the ball, he can keep it. We only take when he drops it himself or if I have something to trade for it. To my mind he seems pretty relaxed about the whole thing. He likes to chase his ball, he's not stressing about losing it...so no. I don't think there is anything wrong with fecth/prey games. Although I could see how a dog that routinely plays fetch might be more physically active...but I think that probabaly has more to do with a dog that's in shape than a dog whose brain is too wired to slow down.

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