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Kash is a 20 month old King Shepherd and is very ball driven. I have a couple questions regarding how I am interacting with Kash when we are playing in our fenced in yard. He brings the ball back when thrown in the yard. I give the command "Drop it" and he will drop it when he is good and ready. He will stay in front of me and chew on the ball and eventually drop it, only to pick it up again and run around for a bit until he feels like dropping it in front of me. He will sit after eventually dropping the ball in front of me and wait for me to pick up the ball. I have worked with him on staying in a sit while I walk away from him with the ball. I will walk a distance before throwing the ball and telling him to "get it". Or, I will walk a distance and out of his sight (behind the garage) and drop the ball. I then walk out from behind the garage without the ball and check to see that he is still in the sit. I then give the command "find it" and he searches out the ball and brings it back to me.... and drops it when he is good and ready to. While unloading groceries from the trunk of the car recently, I discovered that if I point to the open trunk and say "drop it" he comes right to the trunk and drops the ball in the trunk.... no fooling around, go figure. Kash gets lots of praise and "good boy"s for when he drops the ball and when he stays in the sit as I am walking away. My questions are: 1. Will Kash eventually drop the ball when told as he matures? Should I be repeating "drop it" until he does? 2. On those occasions when I come from behind the garage and Kash is right there (abandoned the sit and followed me)... what is the best way for a correction? When this happens (abandoning the sit) I tell him "bad" (as opposed to good boy). What should I do after telling him "bad"? Should I just continue with throwing and hiding the ball? (that is what I do). In rereading this post...... Kash is fine, he is just being a dog. I am the one that needs the training :)
 

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Kash is fine, he is just being a dog. I am the one that needs the training
Isn't that the truth. A nice solid 'out' or 'drop' makes having a dog a lot more enjoyable during playtime.

There seem to be several approaches.

1. Practice replacing what the dog has with something more valuable. ie bring me the ball, I give you a treat. This is how we started. But I think rewarding him with a treat caused him to mellow out. I like to keep play session high energy.
2. Play 'two ball.' This is a version of fetch where you have two balls. when he brings one back, start tossing the other one around to make it more interesting. The moment he drops the ball at your feet reward him by tossing the other one. Since my pup is only 5 months old and a bit 'fetch crazy' we don't play much fetch yet.
3. What works for us is 'two tug.' I use two tugs. We chase and tug with one toy. After a while, I just let the toy go. Then I start waving the other tug around. I try to capture the moment he drops the first tug with a 'good boy' and reward by letting him catch the other tug.
4. Some people like 'dead tug.' They play with a tug for a little while. Then they brace the tug against their leg and hold it very still(dead). A dead tug is a boring tug so the dog lets go. They capture the moment the dog drops the tug by bringing the tug back to life.

Given a choice, I would probably prefer to use the dead tug approach. But, my timing is not that good yet. I often miss the moment my pup lets go of the tug. Instead, I use the 'two tug' approach. It might not be as effective, but it enables me to practice my timing without confusing the dog. After a tug session, I distract pup with a food reward while I hide the tug behind my back. Otherwise, he keeps looking around frantically for the tug.

Larry krohn did a great video on the out command.


I found it inspirational :) Working on communication, leadership, respect, and impulse control while having fun. Too bad it is 1145 pm here or I would wake pup up and try it in my hamfisted manner.

Hope that helps.
 

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I always believed that to truly know to retrieve, the dog needs to know all three components independently. They need to know to pick it up or take it, they need to run to the ball or toy, they need to bring it back and they need to hold it until you ask for it, then release it when you ask.

I always practice with a tug toy without the retrieve part: "Take it" - dog grabs toy. "Hold" - at first the pup needs help with me gently holding mouth closed on toy for a few seconds. "Leave it" - dogs releases toy....

Also drop the toy at their feet, teach them to pick it up at your feet and hold it. Then give or leave it....give treat and praise.

If they understand the components, it's easy to fix problems. For example, my dog was so driven to play retrieve he would drop the ball at my feet when I wanted him to come to a front position and hold the ball until I took it from him. Because he knows the components, if he does this I could tell him to "pick it up" and wait for him to complete the behaviour. He wants me to throw it again, so when he figures out what I want, he gets to chase the ball again. After a few times, I don't say anything, I just wait for him to do out.

It's not a matter of maturity, you just have to shape the behaviour until you get what you want.
 

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the dog needs to know all three components independently.
Interesting. I came to the same conclusion a couple of days ago. We were playing tug and I thought that it would be beneficial for pup if I added a 'get it' command.

My initial reasoning was that combining something pup really loves 'tug' with something he struggles with ' impulse control' would be a nice way to use playtime to work on some needed obedience skills.

I don't think my implementation was particularly well designed. If pup goes for the tug before I say 'get it,' I hid the tug behind my back and stand completely still. Pup started sitting down waiting for the game to start again. Then we try again.
 
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