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Hey folks,

So I took Sam to the dog park today (how many stories have started out like this?) where we met some nice friendly dogs - most of them retrievers. There was one 15 month lab there playing fetch with his owner. Now I generally stay away from dog parks because of aggressive dogs and a couple of instances where some dogs have gotten too aggressive with Sam.

Ever since Sam, who is almost 5 months, started playing fetch with balls playing with dogs has taken a back seat. Sam was getting along with the yellow lab and would do his usual routine of snatching the ball from him whenever he could and not giving it back. Well, twice when the ball came loose and they both went for it at the same time Sam growled and snapped at the other dog. The other dog was fine but this is behavior that I definitely did not want happening with my GSD - especially as becomes bigger in size. I grabbed his collar and corrected him both times and decided to not let him play with the ball after the second time as his behavior was unacceptable.

Does anybody have any good advice on how to train this out of him?

I won't tolerate him being aggressive towards any dog - especially friendly ones so I would really like this to stop before it becomes a real problem.

:help:
 

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If anyone has any advice id appreciate it too. I have notice over the past month my GSD has become very possessive of the toys and will not let my other dog touch them. he actually gathers them all up and lays on them.
 

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Part of this is personality. A more dominant dog will not allow others to take their toys and if their toys are constantly trying to be taken they will display behaviors that let others know that the toys belong to them. Sometimes the ways that dogs display ownership over objects are subtle and the guarding is more passive (Such as placing the toys between their front feet, or maintaining a hold on it in their mouth) and sometiems there are more active (like the growling and snapping).

The best bet is management. First don't put them in a situation where they have to fight to get their toys. Then, no toys. The toys belong to you, and not your dog. He gets to play with them with you when you let him and that's it. Leaving them out with him gives him ownership. You'd hate it if you were on your cell phone and someone else came over and took it from you and started to use it and depending on your personality you might cause a scene...Same for your dog.

My dogs play with toys together, and who possesses the toys is a function of rank in my pack. When I take the dogs out to play with each other, I will bring several toys out. Most of the time they only want whatever one the other has. They will try to snatch the ball from each other, but the dog who usually possesses the ball most often is the more dominant dog. When the less dominant dog takes the ball, he usually bows to invite chase and when the domiant dog catches him he will drop the ball and then try to take it again. If any of my dogs gets aggressive with each other over their toys, I take the toy and put it away, and maybe put the dog in a down stay away from the play. If you cant play nice then you don't get to play at all!

This is problematic in a dog park situation because there is no preestablished pack order and dogs are working it out as they go. If you dog is trying to assert his dominance and maintain control of his toy to let the others know he's boss...all it takes is one other dog to challenge him and then you have a fight. That's really why we don't do dog parks.
 

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Thanks for the post JKlatsky. You're right, Sam will hold onto a ball when there are other dogs around. He doesn't get possessive inside the house as I put his ball away when he is done playing with it as I am/was trying to avoid this scenario. But even when my neighbour is playing fetch with his dog outside Sam is always more interested in her ball and once he gets it he will hang onto it as long as he can. He will also try and take the ball away from others by trying to take it right out of their mouths.

Like you said, he just has to come across that one dog that will challenge him hence we need to stop this now.
 

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I think that you sort of have 2 ways to approach a naturally ball possessive dog. You either devalue the item so it's not worth possessing or you don't give them a ball to be possessive over. For me, the first option isn't really useful ebcause I use the ball for a lot of my training and I want it to be of supreme importance to my dog.

I would try and teach a hard/fast rule that the only toy your dog plays with is the one you have. So he won't go after any other toys that other people/dogs are playing with and then I would be careful about when you choose to bring out the toy.
 

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I agree with JKlatsky.

Masi is very possessive of her "frisbee",,she knows which one is "hers", I could have 4 different ones, and the only one she is going for is "hers"..makes it easier if we are out and about, someone else doing frisbee with their dog, she has no interest in it, because it is not "hers" :))
 

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Jollyball is the ball of choice at my house, both Karlo and Onyx take turns with the handled one...there are many other balls, frisbee's to choose from, but if they set sights on a certain one that is THE one.
I don't do dogparks and if I did toys would not be shared, unfortunately especially if a lab decided he would be owner to one...ugly scene in my head just imagining. Like JKlatsky posted these dogs don't have a relationship so things go south quickly when high value items are in the mix.
we play two ball, frisbee(identical) often so the value placement isn't so high.
 

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I would try and teach a hard/fast rule that the only toy your dog plays with is the one you have. So he won't go after any other toys that other people/dogs are playing with and then I would be careful about when you choose to bring out the toy.
Do you have any tips on how you go about teaching this?

This thread has been very helpful so far, thanks!
 

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Alot of it has to do with attention and engagement.

At home when I throw a ball, part of the game with my dogs is run back adn slam me with it. I don't take the toy right away, I'll pet them up and make a big fuss and maybe tug with them with it for a bit. I won't ask for them to drop it at this age, I usually just lift up on their collar until they drop it (this generally builds drive for the toy). This builds a habit of returning to me quickly.

I will initially favor a toy that requires connection when I start working around other dogs. Tug with a rope ball is a great way to start. The dog cannot go off and have fun with the toy without you. If he lets go...you win the toy!! The trick here is that you have to be more fun than everything else! So if your dog is only mildly interested in the toy you'll have problems maintain their focus on the toy. You have to build the game with you.

Also start away from others in a corner maybe and slowly move closer. Play with your dog on a leash, if he starts to seem distracted when he moves away from you, give him a pop on the leash and see if you can get him back with you. If he stops focusing on you and your toy and you cannot get his attention back, then you may have overstepped the attention threshold.
 

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My oldest can get possessive with "his" toys so I don't bring his ball to the dog park on busy days. If it looks like there are two many dogs, his ball is put away and we can play fetch at home. He doesn't play with other dogs or go after their balls so he just trots in circles around me. If it's not too busy we go in a corner where there is no one and I'll throw the ball then but most of the time I don't bring him because it's a very hilly dog park and it's hard on his arthritis.
 
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