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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone.
I've been having trouble with my 1 year old gsd when it comes to playing with him. He has crazy drive for ball in a string so that's what I use most. Most of our obedience training has been done with food since he's a young dog and has really good food drive. Obedience is going pretty good as he is becoming active in engagement and is starting to push me to work even in distracting environments.
But now I kind of want to start using more play as a reward and he is very stubborn and not eager to play with me. We have been working with a long line so I can pop him back to me after I let him win tug. Everyday we do at least a playing session but I don't see much improvement in our connection when playing. He knows when the long line is on and kind of just comes back to me slowly as I pop the leash but as soon as he knows there is no leash he will run with the toy either to play keep away or to chew it by himself. I let him win 3 out of 4 times. I rarely tell him to out during play sessions. Once, maybe.
Would really appreciate if anyone has some advice that could help me and Diesel be a better team.
Thank you in advance.

Edit: I've also tried two equal toys and trading them, it helps when playing fetch but in the long run his possession problem still persists.
 

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We all have different dogs and mine is very handler focused. I know the way I’m describing may not work for you.
I was told to watch my dog play. See what he likes and engage in play with him using the style he likes. The tug/ball hopefully becomes a tool for play rather than just the way you play.

So I watched my dog and what he does during play. I try to mimic that. It involves slapping at him like he does with his paws, taking swipes at his paws like he goes for my other pups toes, running away and trying to snatch his toy when he catches up. Win, spin away and knock him. Be engaged like a dog does in play. This includes the ratio of winning and outs you’ve described.
Just an idea, because the idea to play with the dog that way he likes really was an eye opener for me.
 
Bear - 7.5 mo old male GSD & 5 cats - Benny (6), Nani (6), Kingston (6), Rigby (4) and Hazel (3)
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I've heard negative things about playing chase with your pup. Bear loves it so I was pretty bummed about that. Im guessing that was bologna!? Haha
 

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I don't want to sound harsh OP, but what's in it for the dog? Is he having any fun? Does he really understand the "rules" of the game?

Tug is way more fun when you're engaged on the other end! So that's his reward!

Let's look back at a couple of your statements.

We have been working with a long line so I can pop him back to me after I let him win tug.
Most of our obedience training has been done with food since he's a young dog and has really good food drive.
...
But now I kind of want to start using more play as a reward and he is very stubborn and not eager to play with me. We have been working with a long line so I can pop him back to me after I let him win tug.
He's being coerced into being compliant. Not being taught through reward and engagement to enjoy the game.

Everyday we do at least a playing session but I don't see much improvement in our connection when playing.
Not surprising, but disheartening...

I've also tried two equal toys and trading them, it helps when playing fetch but in the long run his possession problem still persists
Possessiveness is a genetic trait. Not a problem, and actually quite useful for training some things. But it's a trait it's not your dog being stubborn. You have to work with/around it by tailoring your techniques and training.

If he were my dog I'd go back and teach the game from the ground up. No treats, no longline, at home in your yard. Or even indoors if less distractions work well. Make it a game and act as animated and foolish and play as you have to to elicit a retrieve. Praise profusely, then out, then play tug again!

Then out him and throw it again. Of course that description is just an example, you have to do what works to elicit the behavior you want from your dog! The key elements are (a) it's a game, so have some fun with it! You can work on refining his technique over time. But you have to get him engaged and having fun!; (b) work "bring it" or "fetch" or whatever word you want to use, but formalize it so your dog clearly understand what you want. It will be easier to get around his possessiveness by formalizing a contrary behavior non-threateningly.

Finally formalize the out, in isolation initially if he learns better that way. But ensure that he clearly understands it before asking him for it in the context of the game of fetch.

Anyway, I think, for what it's worth, if you try altering your approach a bit, and clarify some of the steps, and have fun doing it, your dog will catch on! If you still see no improvement, find a trainer who can help.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
What is your dogs reason to come back to you? Does he get to play some more or do you take the ball away ever time?
He ALWAYS gets to play more unless we are ending the session. Sometimes when ending I even trade the ball for some kibble so the problem does not aggravate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I don't want to sound harsh OP, but what's in it for the dog? Is he having any fun? Does he really understand the "rules" of the game?

Tug is way more fun when you're engaged on the other end! So that's his reward!

Let's look back at a couple of your statements.





He's being coerced into being compliant. Not being taught through reward and engagement to enjoy the game.



Not surprising, but disheartening...



Possessiveness is a genetic trait. Not a problem, and actually quite useful for training some things. But it's a trait it's not your dog being stubborn. You have to work with/around it by tailoring your techniques and training.

If he were my dog I'd go back and teach the game from the ground up. No treats, no longline, at home in your yard. Or even indoors if less distractions work well. Make it a game and act as animated and foolish and play as you have to to elicit a retrieve. Praise profusely, then out, then play tug again!

Then out him and throw it again. Of course that description is just an example, you have to do what works to elicit the behavior you want from your dog! The key elements are (a) it's a game, so have some fun with it! You can work on refining his technique over time. But you have to get him engaged and having fun!; (b) work "bring it" or "fetch" or whatever word you want to use, but formalize it so your dog clearly understand what you want. It will be easier to get around his possessiveness by formalizing a contrary behavior non-threateningly.

Finally formalize the out, in isolation initially if he learns better that way. But ensure that he clearly understands it before asking him for it in the context of the game of fetch.

Anyway, I think, for what it's worth, if you try altering your approach a bit, and clarify some of the steps, and have fun doing it, your dog will catch on! If you still see no improvement, find a trainer who can help.
Hey, first of all thank you for your insight.
You suggested not using a long line for now. You also suggested for a formalized "fetch". So how is that going to work out if I have no way of bringing him into me so he understands what the game is all about?
Thanks again.
 

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Like Roscoe above had mentioned, Ivan Balabanov's "Chase and Catch 2.0" is excellent, the "Possession Game" video is awesome as well. You will find a lot of your answers in those two videos.

There are many reasons why a dog doesn't want to play with his handler, a dog that doesn't have a clear understanding of how to win is one of them.

A video of your actual play session would help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Like Roscoe above had mentioned, Ivan Balabanov's "Chase and Catch 2.0" is excellent, the "Possession Game" video is awesome as well. You will find a lot of your answers in those two videos.

There are many reasons why a dog doesn't want to play with his handler, a dog that doesn't have a clear understanding of how to win is one of them.

A video of your actual play session would help.
Hey San, I just bought "Possession Games" by Ivan and I have to tell, after the first time watching the entire video you guys are absolutely right. Game changer. Worth every cent! Thanks for the reply.
 

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Hey San, I just bought "Possession Games" by Ivan and I have to tell, after the first time watching the entire video you guys are absolutely right. Game changer. Worth every cent! Thanks for the reply.
So, did Ivan's possession games video give you all the help you need, of should I still answer your question? I'm betting he covered the process in detail, but I haven't seen it so I don't know for sure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So, did Ivan's possession games video give you all the help you need, of should I still answer your question? I'm betting he covered the process in detail, but I haven't seen it so I don't know for sure.
I only watched it once and the play session after was already much better. Will watch a second time today. In summary my dog does not understand the objective of the game(like you said in your previous comment) and I must teach him and that's where the video comes in handy. He does cover play sessions in detail and shows footage of him playing so I found out my body language was not correct as well.
 

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It is amazing how much they read from our body language. I watched videos of myself and I was self conscience and awkward in my timing and positioning. Over time I made small changes and got the zen of movements. Games come much easier and fluid now.

Another trainer I like, for simple laid back games and training, is the Collared Scholar.
 

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Dogs LOVE keep away and to be chased. It's not all about fetch for them.
No big deal
ha, totally agree. Bernie loves playing ball, and sometimes he retrieves the ball (and gets a treat) and sometimes he just blows right past me, taunting me to chase him into his bed, where he ultimately deposits all of his toys. And he's a retriever, allegedly. But I play along, and he's happy - so no foul here.
 
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