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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 18 month old GSD is trained on most basics, he will sit, drop, stay and go to his bed on command (sometimes requires me to tell him twice if I have no treat in hand). The problem I am facing with training is ball obsession and lunging, ever since he was 12 weeks he has never liked bringing the ball back (this is my first GSD and I have struggled teaching him to trade with toys or food).

Not giving the ball back was never a big issue for me, however now he's older he has started lunging at the ball and sometimes getting our hands or arms in the crossfire.
For example if he drops the ball for us or is standing near the ball he will wait for us to reach for it then lunge at the ball and run away.

My biggest worry is that a child will try and grab his ball and he will unintentionally catch them in the crossfire and we end up with a very bad scenario.

Thank you in advance for any advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Go out and buy two balls- two exactly the same, at exactly the same time, and present both to your dog at the same time. “2-ball” game: the dog does not create a preference for either ball (in theory) and you can play fetch for a long time.

your dog is beautiful!
Thank you for your suggestion, I have tried this but will give it another go and be more persistent (only myself to blame :( )

The problem I faced previously: after a few throws he will run to one of the balls and then stop half way back, lay down and just chew the ball with no interest for the other ball I have in my hand.
 

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How is he with obedience? A great “trick” I taught Zepp is STOP (he stops dead and waits for next command - usually sit or down). I’ve paired this with a hand motion as well ✋. Adds some brain stuff to the physical exercise. I wonder if obedience like that, that works on impulse control, would be helpful in this situation for him?
 

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Sounds like he needs to learn to play with rules. Playing requires knowing how to bring the play object back to you, releasing the play object when told, and not biting it whenever he wants. It’s a learned behavior, but the dog learns it’s super fun. They will start to prefer playing this way over running off with the toy and chewing on it. Id start with a tug because it’s easy to engage the dog when they are close to you. When the dog can retrieve and out a tug, move onto the ball.

A much, much better explanation:
 

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Mine would do that a lot when she was younger, I ended up always making her sit and then throwing the ball to her. She learned pretty quickly that sitting and not going after the ball was what got her what she wanted and that lunging for it was the fastest way to get blocked and for the ball to be put away for a while.
 

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Thank you for your suggestion, I have tried this but will give it another go and be more persistent (only myself to blame :( )

The problem I faced previously: after a few throws he will run to one of the balls and then stop half way back, lay down and just chew the ball with no interest for the other ball I have in my hand.
Had that problem with my girl. Ignore him and play with the 2nd ball, when he comes to you make him sit then throw it. After that is solid, work on making him bring the first ball closer and closer to you before you throw 2nd.

Took a few weeks, now my girl knows the "bring it" command and will drop it at my feet.
 

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Had that problem with my girl. Ignore him and play with the 2nd ball, when he comes to you make him sit then throw it. After that is solid, work on making him bring the first ball closer and closer to you before you throw 2nd.

Took a few weeks, now my girl knows the "bring it" command and will drop it at my feet.
I did something similar as we had the same issue. I also layered in “leave it” command so Django would not touch the ball once dropped. I rarely have to remind him now. It takes some time but it’s definitely a fixable issue.
 

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Your dog is certainly a stunner.

Your problem is not uncommon. You have probably the best suggestions above already. 2 ball is amazing to help with this.

One other is to teach a back up command. To get some space between the dog and the ball for you to safely reach for it.

But I'd work harder on a solid 'out' also. 'Out' should also mean not re engaging without a verbal que. But remember to start slow. He outs, he immediately gets another ball again.

No kids reading for balls until he is reliable.
 

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As others have said. Ball on a rope helped me teach the drop with two identical toys. Dog releases I immediately give him second toy or throw second toy. I don't immediately ask for another drop we play around. I also put the dog on a leash so I could guide him into the game and prevent disengagement. Structured play no more then a few minutes or 5 tops.
One thing I learned is that when the dog makes contact with your hand and ball you drop it they win. If you can avoid releasing he will see teeth on hands don't work but dropping the toy for the new toy gets the reward.
I had a grabber I sat in the floor with two toys and taught get it and drop it and never let him win by grabbing. Then moved it outside.
Stay consistent in the rules and hopefully he will catch on soon to how to keep the game going.
 

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"The problem I faced previously: after a few throws he will run to one of the balls and then stop half way back, lay down and just chew the ball with no interest for the other ball I have in my hand. "

Stop before you get to this point. OK? simple enough?

Stop the play, move to work (aka some obedience exercises) then play a bit longer (I'd conclude by letting the dog carry the ball home.) Another option: just walk away. (dog wants to change the game, you declare game over.) Basically, you need to change the game before the dog changes the game.
 

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Your dog is smarter than you. When you throw the ball away it becomes his. Why would he retrieve a ball just to give it back to you - you threw it away. He's not a retriever, he's a herder. He needs another dog to herd....
He's a gorgeous dog, love the little brown spot on his nose. How cute is that!
 

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When my dog was a puppy he started doing the lunging thing to pick up the ball as I was grabbing for it. I got tired of getting bit, so I taught him to sit and wait to be released. Reach for the ball and keep an eye on the dog - if he starts to move, give a verbal correction, make him sit again, and then reach for the ball. Repeat every time you pick up the ball to throw it and he should get into the habit of bringing the ball back and sitting while you pick up the ball to be thrown.
 

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They are super creative in trying to maintain possession of the toys. Here's are a few of Deja's tricks; all cured.
1.Jumping and lunging at the toy before we even got started. It was quickly fixed by putting the toy away without commands or attention and me doing something non-dog related, leaving her standing there.
2.Not releasing the ball when I went to take it from her: the only thing that worked was to put her on a down-stay along with her so precious ball and then work with Bo without acknowledging her.
3.To prevent her from re-taking the toy from my hand after initial release, I gave her the command heel to sit next to me immediately, which is incompatible with stealing the ball back.
Good luck outsmarting the guy. I actually enjoy doing that, especially if it works.
 

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Keep it fun for the dog.
Yes! Apex and I were awkward at play. We had our games for sure. I couldn't ever get him to tug. Over the last 6 months I found what makes him tick and now have him playing tug in his own weird way. He pushes for more yay! We also have increased our fun with the other what i think is weird ways he likes to play. I had to learn what he found fun not what I thought he should find fun. I have even gotten him so excited in play he gets vocal with growls in a happy way! Lol only took 5 years 😅
Zephyr on the other hand so easy to play with in the most conventional of ways.
 

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Yes! Apex and I were awkward at play. We had our games for sure. I couldn't ever get him to tug. Over the last 6 months I found what makes him tick and now have him playing tug in his own weird way. He pushes for more yay! We also have increased our fun with the other what i think is weird ways he likes to play. I had to learn what he found fun not what I thought he should find fun. I have even gotten him so excited in play he gets vocal with growls in a happy way! Lol only took 5 years 😅
Zephyr on the other hand so easy to play with in the most conventional of ways.
Exactly! As soon as we take what our dogs find fun and rewarding (weird or not) it's the key to everything.
 
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I'll add to Zeppy's two-ball advice: With one of my previous GSDs, I used one ball and a Kong donut squeaker. I'd throw the ball, he'd retrieve and get close to me but not close enough for me to get the ball. The Kong squeaker stayed on the ground by my foot, and when he got close, I stepped on it repeatedly, so that the irresistible sound was like an animal squeaking. He'd drop the ball and pick up the squeaker, while I went to pick up the nearby ball. I'd let him chew the squeaker for about 2 seconds, then say, "Want the ball?" and wave it over his head. He'd start leaping around, focused on the ball, I'd throw it, he'd fetch and bring it back fairly close, at which point I'd start stepping on the squeaker again. Repeat until the dog gets tired. This resulted in a very fast-paced, exciting game of fetch in which the squeaker even got ME excited.
 
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