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You're not alone, I play keep away. He adjusts his speed to fit the chasee. He runs faster for me than my husband. My dog wont play 2 ball or 2 frisbee. He stands, waits, then looks at me to tell me "You threw the wrong one'.
My gal-dog loves 2-ball so much I have to make sure I don't over run her. My big-boy, even if I have what seem to be 2 identical balls, has a favored one. He will chase one with joy and barely go after the other. He prefers tug so I use a wobbly flyer by Westpaw. I can toss it and I can tug it. When it is time to end the game I take the toy and exchange it for a leaf...yes, a leaf. He loves chasing them since they fly slow and randomly. I have to be careful when they get too old and dry. They get too crumbly and I don't want him to breath them in or swallow the small bits.

As far as being trained to "out", some people think "my dog knows the word" and others think, "I expect my dog to obey every time". I expect mine to obey every time BUT I also recognize that sometimes it is hard for them and I wait it out. It feels like forever but after watching myself on a video I can see that it is only a few breaths. Getting a quicker more consistent out is one of our goals for 2020.
 

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When Max was a real young pup I had him in a long lead throw the ball and coaxed him over excitedly patting on the ground. I would then give him a piece of cheese when I said give and he outed the ball. The game continued. I did this often that my Chihuahua learned to play fetch just by watching us. The ball is his favorite and he thrives on engagement. Two ball is a game where you switch balls another way he sees that that he is rewarded for giving you the ball and the game continues. My female likes to play tug she enjoys this game and is one of her favorites she know the game continues when she wins and brings be back the tug.
 

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banzai555
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#15 20 hours ago

Jorski said:
Respectfully, if she only does it when she feels like it, then she doesn't know the command.
Respectfully, you can know what something means without obeying. She will drop it eventually but not right away.

What a weird and pointless thing to be condescending about. I think I know my dog better than you.
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Knowing any command ( at least to me), means being able to reliably and consistently perform the exercise. If the dog sometimes "doesn't want to do it" or is "stubborn" the learning has not been completed.

It has nothing to do with knowing your dog, it has to do with knowing dogs and training in general. A dog that truly knows how to fetch, also knows the component parts of the exercise. He/she can be told to get or pick up an object and do it; be told to hold an object and be told to deliver the object in the manner the handler chooses.

If you choose to allow the dog to ignore you, that's great. If you want to change the dog's response, you need to do something different. It isn't intended to be condescending, I'm sorry you took it that way.
 

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German Shepherds are smart. I'm sure when they see me throw the ball, they figure I'm playing with it. (silly human.) Labs are wonderful dogs but they are, by nature and breeding, RETRIEVERS. GS's are herd minders. Elke does not chase the ball - she chases the dog chasing the ball and steers him back towards the house. She will carry her toys around with her, but sharing them is another thing. That little pile of toys is her 'herd' and she will mind them. When Buck pulled a tree limb out of the woods, he wasn't retrieving it, he was finding a new toy. He had no intention of giving it to me. Most GS's will chase a toy but bringing it back must seem stupid to them. I can see the wheels turning - you threw it, if you wanted it you shouldn't have done that. dumb human. I got it, it's mine now. Try looking at things from the dog's point of view. Things will make more sense...

Your dog is aging. You might want to consider a checkup, looking specifically for arthritis developing.
 

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No, GSDs aren't too smart to retrieve. This from Larry Krohn:

Larry Krohn
31 December 2019 at 05:41 ·

If you're struggling in any area with your dog ask yourself a couple HONEST questions:
1. Is my dog crazy about me and want to interact with me more than anything else? (Relationship)
2. Is the communication there? Does my dog actually understand EXACTLY what I want? (Training)
 

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I play keep away with my boys because it is just so innocently fun, none of us can keep a smile off our faces. We all feel like kids again. Plus they know when I am playing and when I seriously mean "drop it". These are smart dogs, they will know the difference if you show them. Both lousy retrievers, "but I got it, why should I give it to you?"

You clearly love your dog, just give him a little more direction if you feel its lacking.

@dogma13 I often feel like I look like a crazy lady, running around my front yard "chasing" dogs with a "stick" (usually 5 foot long limbs) egging them on with idle threats of "I'm gonna get that "stick"!"
 

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Another thing you could try is after the dog has retrieved the ball is to squat down while calling him.
 
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