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Discussion Starter #1
We've got "leave it" down, but "drop it" is another story. We play ball/throw the toy a lot. We're playing about an hour a day sometimes a couple times a day. Lucky is an awesome retriever, but we always wrestle to get her to release the toy so we can through it again.

I really don't want to get into a wrestling match with her (even though she loves it) because we're trying to encourage her to <span style="color: #FFCC00">mellow</span> and she has a fairly dominant personality.

The wrestling/tug of war is just a game to her and I can pry the toy out of her mouth without her getting upset. She just likes the tug of war part too much to give it up. I've tried trading for a treat, and that works *if* I have an awesome treat (hot dog, chicken, etc.) but I want to get beyond the treat. Occasionally, she'll trade for another toy, but not "on command", instead just when she's ready to run again. It really is her choice and not because she's being obedient.

Any ideas besides just trading for food? Or if food is the answer, how can I be more effective?

Thanks in advance!!
 

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Our boys LOVE to play tug of war and when they get hold of something, they really don't like to let go.

How I manage it, is I put my hand as much over the toy as I can and "claim" it. I then just hold it, calmly, and tell the dog "Aus". He realises that I am not going to play tug with him, and drops it.

The moment you start pulling and tugging on it to take it out of his mouth, he just sees it as a big game.
 

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I think the answer is partially in your own words-as your starting point.
Originally Posted By: LuckyD I've tried trading for a treat, and that works *if* I have an awesome treat (hot dog, chicken, etc.) but I want to get beyond the treat. Occasionally, she'll trade for another toy...

Any ideas besides just trading for food? Or if food is the answer, how can I be more effective?
Now you need get consistent. First determine what your marker word is going to be - drop it, out, give whatever. Practice without/before the playtime-and before you feed so that the food treat is more alluring. Just give her the object and entice a trade with the treat. When she releases, mark and give the treat. Repeat this one step for a while until she is releasing for a while.

Once she is releasing, start adding the command word. Now she doesn't get the treat unless the release is after your command-so it's important at first for you to anticipate and get that command in before she releases. Slowly extend the time out so she is holding the object until you give the command word. As this gets consistent, you start to fade the treat out of the picture. Once you feel she is doing this to your satisfaction, you can apply it to your playtime.

When I'm playing retrieve/fetch with Kayla, I usually have two-three balls/frisbees to toss. I use the word "out" with her. I never try to physically remove the first one, nor do I play tug/chase when we're retrieving/playing fetch. If I give her the command and she feels like being "ornery," I just stand there with the second object ready to go. Nothing further happens until she releases the first ball.

At times we put this into a sprinting game. I throw the ball in one direction and the second 180 degrees in the other direction. I will out as she's sprinting up on me and she releases on the fly.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Dannay- We play the same game! Lucky loves tug of war but she's not at the point where she'll drop it. It sounds like you do a better job of waiting than I do. Lucky knows that I like to get on with the game (and wear her out) so maybe I need to be more patient. Thanks for your response!

Samuel- Thanks so much. You're totally right about my "need to get consistent". I will try your ideas. I hadn't thought about working on it outside the context of the game, which should have been obvious but I'm slow sometimes :0) . That's a great idea and will probably work. Again, I see I need to be more patient waiting for her to obey and not playing when she doesn't. And I need to work on this when we work on obedience and not just when we play. We do the sprint game, too, and that's the only time she'll drop the other toy in order to go after the recently thrown one. Thanks again for your help!
 

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Not sure what others think but I've read more than once that "Tug" is a game to be taken seriously in this aspect; the more times the pup/dog wins the more confidence he/she gets and for dominant dogs it is advised to 'win more' than the dog wins. And when done with the "Tug" game, put the tug toy up. Pup doesn't get it until YOU want to play again. And it sounds as if Lucky has plenty of other toys to turn to....
for a timid dog it is suggested that they be allowed to "win" more, same concept except reversed. It is meant to give the timid dog <u>more</u> confidence.
I taught one of my girls to really do the tug since she has been used as a Service Dog demonstrator. For handicapped people, they often attach a towel or fabric pull to handles, frig door handle, drawer handles, door handles and their service dog can open it for them. Now that Greta is retired we play tug and that girl has STILL got it, yowsa! She puts 100 pounds of dead pull and jerk in that yank..... that particular one is me... we have a large stock dam in our pasture the dogs love to swim in, stocked with fish, etc. Just in case I ever fell in or broke thru ice I have planned and hope that my girl would be able to help get me out. If she used that jerk on a drawer or refrig. the appliance would be across the room and the drawer smashed through the picture window I'm sure.
Good luck with your darling girl and <u> </u> always <u> </u> be the leader of her world. You first in <u>all</u> things!
 

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I teach my dogs to immediately spit out a toy or dumbbell on command by using treats, but it's initially done in a separate training scenario (not while we're playing or practicing competition retrieves) because giving up the toy or dumbbell is a behavior all by itself. Once they learn it, I combine the release command with the other behaviors.

I use something that I can get my hands on, like a kong with a rope or a tennis ball with a rope through it. I put a bunch of really good meat or cheese treats in my mouth and then I hand the object to the dog. I let go of it, then reach to take it and say "give" (my release command) and then I immediately start spitting treats onto the top of my dog's head. I don't wait for them to give it - as soon as I give the command I start spitting. It only takes a few times and the dog is letting go of the object right away in anticipation of the treats.

And then I just wean them off the treats over a period of weeks or months - whatever it takes. I want the habit to become well established before I take away the treats. We still play tug when we want to play tug, but they learn to let go immediately on the "give" command without any arguing or tension between us Ieven in mid-tug once the behavior is set). It's worked on every dog I've used it on over the years, even diehard retrieving dogs who never want to let go. You just need to make sure that the treats you're using are of a high enough value to that particular dog, and if necessary do the training when the dog is hungry.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 
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