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Forum Home > GENERAL DISCUSSION > Letting go of the ball etc

vicky monk
Member
Posts: 3

I dont intend to work Ed my working cocker but I do want him to have a fulfilled life with us.  I take him out in the mornings for around an hour. When we are out he is mainly off the lead and I throw a tennis ball for him, up until the last few days he always brings it back to me or drops it close by, but yesterday and this morning he just would not let me have the ball.  I tried to make him let it go but his jaws where tight around the ball.  I walked on and he eventually let the ball go. I put it in my pocket and put him on the lead.  There is no agression when I try and take the ball.  I must have done something wrong to make him do this.  Please can you give me some tips on how to make him let go.  I have tried a treat but he is not interested.  

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September 22, 2013 at 8:52 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Lazar
Member
Posts: 18

Hi i'm having the same problem but our WCS growls when we try to take the ball off him, be interested to get some feed back on this.

September 22, 2013 at 1:39 PM Flag Quote & Reply

The Bramble Monkeys
Member
Posts: 1153

There are several techniques that will help but they are best shown in a 1 to1 training session. I am going to suggest you look at doing something like the gundog club training course for instance or go to a good pro trainer.

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“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Charles Darwin

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September 23, 2013 at 2:17 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Keith61
Member
Posts: 505

Vicky,

It's about Ed's 'relationship' with the 'ball' or the 'retrieve'. In short, he's returning it on his terms rather than on yours- you just hadn't noticed until now. From a non-working point of view, you might imagine getting your dog to return a ball would be fairly simple, but in actual fact it isn't. Not if you want consistent delivery to hand, anyway. Next time you are in the park, take a look at the the other dogs playing with their tennis balls. Unless you have  happened to stumble upon a trained retriever, I'll wager that 100% of the dogs will be returning the ball exactly the same, on their own terms too.

For the retriever, it's the retrieve itself (running out, picking-up, running-in and receiving praise) that they desire, not the actual retrieve object (the shot game). With Ed and the other dogs in the park, it's precisely the other way around. Hope that gets you thining....

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"Outside of a dog, a book is probably a Man's best friend and inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

Groucho Marx

September 23, 2013 at 5:16 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Lynn
Member
Posts: 217

I agree with Keith (what’s happening!?! :) ) It is all about the relationship your dog has with the ball, and also the relationship you have with your dog. At the moment, Ed believes that the ball belongs to him. He needs to learn that you own and control the ball. I would suggest that when you take him out, you do some training with him, prior to letting him have the ball, then give him the ball as a reward. Think about a sniffer dog, how they have to do the job they are trained for, (sniffing out drugs/money) then they get the ball as a reward. Do not let him play with the ball at any other time, it must be you who decides when and where he can have it.

My own dog enjoys playing with a tennis ball, but it is always on my terms. He is given it when he has done some other type of training (heelwork, sit/stay, lie down/stay etc.) only then does he get the ball to play with. He has also learned that when I ask him to drop the ball, then he must do so. It was not always the case, he did hang on to it at first, so… rightly or wrongly…. I would gently hold his scruff while giving the command drop, I would not let go until he had dropped the ball, once he did, he would immediately be praised for doing so, you can also use treats to achieve this (cheese works well) he soon learned to drop the ball when asked to. But it is all about timing.

It is important that your dog does give up objects when asked to do so, as if they ever pick up an item which could be dangerous if swallowed, you need to know that you can retrieve the object from him safely. I am now able to take any object away from my dog, simply by using the drop command, (this includes his bone) without him objecting.

 

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September 23, 2013 at 6:53 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Katie
Member
Posts: 126

I had a problem like this with one of my dogs.  I agree that it's best demonstrated and a good trainer will be able help, in the meantime ... whilst your dog was releasing the ball to you, what was your reaction?  Did you always put your hand down for it?  Did you always take it from him?  if he thinks you're going to remove the ball he may hang on to it even tighter.   I made this mistake... try to get close to Ed, whilst he has the ball in his mouth, and just touch him round his ears, muzzle and under his chin using voice praise.  By doing this you are reassuring him he has done the right thing in returning the ball to you.  then get up and walk on a few paces.  Hopefully he will follow you with ball in mouth.  Stop & do the same thing again.  After a few times, go to take the ball off him, give him whatever release command you use but hold out your hand just under his nose, don't actually touch him or the ball.  Just give the command once and then wait.  it worked for me - my dog got bored waiting!  As soon as she released it, I threw it again straight away, no formality.  I did this a few times and on each retieve she released the ball to me more easily.  end on a good one, then put the ball away and don't bring it out again on the walk.  You could try taking all retrieving away completely, give him a break - but this could have the adverse affect of making him hold on to it even more when he does get it.  Try getting the dog to sit and wait whilst you walk away and place the ball on the ground.  Then walk back to him and ask him to find it (an in-sight retrieve).  If the excitement of the throwing is eliminated he may be more inclined to release.  As Bramblemonkey says, do go and see a trainer if you can't work through it yourself, it's well worth it.

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Dogs are not my whole life, but they make my life whole ...

September 23, 2013 at 7:02 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Keith61
Member
Posts: 505

:) Somethings going wrong with this site, I keep agreeing with Lynn!

Lot's of good stuff here from Lynn and Katie...... but a couple of thing to think on, now we are establishing the general idea.

1. You may well work on a release  command, if the issue is actually 'release'. I understand this, but I think the first issue to 'break' the idea that the dog thinks the ball is HIS and the game is one of POSSESSION. At the moment, the dog thinks the game is all about possession of the ball and he is therefore disinclined to either bring it in to his owner or slacken his grip because in doing so,  he loses possession of the ball.

2. Try using a new retrieve object instead of the ball. As Lynn says, the handler must have total control of the object. It must only be used for retrieves. Begin with tiny ones in an enclosed space like a large room or small garden. Throw very clearly visible 5 yard puppy retrieves and praise the dog MASSIVELY for returning to you with the 'object'.

3. Work on recall, recall, recall so that it is 100% or at least 99% anyway. Again praise the successful in-run to you. If your dog isn't overjoyed to be running in towards you, he is not going to switch easily from the possession game to the game of retrieving.

4. The idea is that the dog learns he is praised for picking up the object and returning it, rather than searching for, finding and possessing it.


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"Outside of a dog, a book is probably a Man's best friend and inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

Groucho Marx

September 23, 2013 at 12:32 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Audrey
Member
Posts: 135

I spent an entire morning with one of mine ( when he was a pup ) sitting on a bench with my hands cupped . When he eventually put the ball in my cupped hands without me positioning them or moving them in any direction, I gave him lots of praise and he got another throw.    It was quite funny watching him at first as he tried everything to get me to take the ball .  He spat it at me , jumped up on me , barked at me , dropped it at me and stared at me , willing me to do something ........ but no I just waited until the penny dropped, and he placed it in my motionless cupped hands .  It took a huge amount of patience but from that day on he has always brought the ball straight to me and placed it in my hands .  Well worth the time and effort !    Good luck with yours !

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Audrey


September 23, 2013 at 3:23 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Lazar
Member
Posts: 18

Would anybody know the name of a good trainer in the Derby area. Thanks

September 23, 2013 at 8:47 PM Flag Quote & Reply

The Bramble Monkeys
Member
Posts: 1153

How close is this chap
http://www.thegundogclub.co.uk/?page_id=205

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...................................................................................................

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Charles Darwin

..................................................................................................

September 24, 2013 at 2:40 AM Flag Quote & Reply

dogwalker
Member
Posts: 53

I am not contradicting all the perfectly correct arguements that have been put forward, but I want to sugest a way of taking a ball from a dog that doesn't want to let go, first of all don't try and pull the ball out of the dogs mouth, try and push the ball slightly further into the mouth and rotate it,  at the same time give the verbal command 'dead' or whatever you use, this seems to oblige the dog to loosen his grip and then you can take the ball or whatever from him and praise him and give it straight back or whatever.  Hopefully the dog then gives up the fight to hang on to the ball because the trainer is so damn clever he can take it and the dog also learns that if he gives it up he gets praised and it's no big deal.  It's easier to teach with something that sticks out of the mouth so you can get a grip on, I would tend to use a toy not a dummy for obvious reasons.

September 24, 2013 at 4:20 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Ang
Member
Posts: 13

Hi all, I wonder if I could have some advise for a similar problem, the ownership of the ball ( this had not progressed on to dummies yet thank goodness). My boy loves playing with the ball and returns beautifully to hand, and will sit beautifully presenting the ball, but, will not give. I have tried ignoring him and waiting, he will sit waiting for me take it but every time it go to take it he swiftly moves his head to stop me taking it. His recall is great by the way, will recall to whistle, voice and gesture ( open arms). We also keep playing with the ball separate from training with dummies. If someone could guide me on my mistakes and how I can put this right I would be so grateful. Thanks 


September 6, 2014 at 3:28 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Svenk
Member
Posts: 124

Forget the ball, they're too easy for the dog to keep hold of right inside his mouth and just creat problems later in life (as you're now finding out). Every time he keeps the ball, he's trained you, so it will be harder to get it next time. 


If you want to take it from him, just take it - it's your ball. Put your hand around the top of his nose, fingers in the side of his mouth, and squeeze, at the same time pulling the ball out with the other hand. 

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www.hundgubbe.se

September 7, 2014 at 6:05 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Lazar
Member
Posts: 18

Kieth Onion's and Graham Burton are both very good if you look on the gundog club web site they are both on there i also have there numbers.

September 7, 2014 at 8:38 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Keith61
Member
Posts: 505

Hi Ang,

Sorry just noticed your post.....Haven't been on for a while. All this agreeing with Lynn (see above) meant I had to go for a long lie-down...

A couple of things.... What do you mean by will sit beautifully presenting the ball, but, will not give...? If you are in the realms of dummies, I am assuming your boy is training to work? If so, you will want him to 'hold' or present until you take the retrieive from him. Bad manners to dump the pheasant in the mud, efficient though it may be. I wouldn't be hoping/expecting him to drop things at your feet, if I were you, I'd be happy he was waiting for you to 'take'.

The head-turning is just 'ownership'. My dog does it with his ball (he owns his ball, never confused with dummies or training. I own all retrieives) but never does it with the 'real' thing. Simply put one palm either side of his face and then take the ball, whilst re-assuring and praising. 9 times in 10 you will have no problems, with this approach.

The issue you have,is the same one that all us pet/working owners have.... where does the 'pet' end and the gun-dog begin? It's a blurred line. We all accept compromise in the end, if you want to keep you gun-dog and your pet.

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"Outside of a dog, a book is probably a Man's best friend and inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

Groucho Marx

September 9, 2014 at 1:00 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Lynn
Member
Posts: 217
A whole year Keith!?! That was a long lie down. So sorry, didn't realise that I had that effect on you :) Hope you are fully recovered now.
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September 9, 2014 at 6:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Lynn
Member
Posts: 217
Ang, if you read the previous posts you will realise that everyone has their own ideas for the best way to deal with this problem. My own dog has been well trained and I have worked consistently with him with regards to giving up any object he has to me when asked to do so. He has always been compliant in the past and I thought I had this one in the bag. But yesterday he had a new bone and when my OH moved the mat he was sitting on, he growled at him, so I went to take the bone from him, asked him to drop it which he did but he also growled at me. He has never done this before. Even an obedient well trained dog can surprise and shock you sometimes.
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September 9, 2014 at 7:17 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Ang
Member
Posts: 13

Thanks everyone for your help! As always such a great group with a wealth of knowledge.

September 11, 2014 at 5:28 AM Flag Quote & Reply

John Irwin
Member
Posts: 37

I agree with Lynn about dogs surprising you. 


Dixie has picked up for three years on commercial shoots with no problems.  On rare occasions she has not immediately given up strong hen runners, or unshot birds that she has pegged.  I think that she thinks I might let them fly away!  She had been professionally trained before I got her.  I think that she had been trained to release birds in the manner described by Peter Jones in his book "The Working Cocker" - that is if reluctant to release the bird then stand on her toe!  This causes the mouth to open.  All I now have to do to get her to release a wounded bird if necessary,  is to move my foot towards hers, without even touching her.  Dixie opens her mouth immediately!


On one occasion last season that didn't work.  A snipe had been shot.  (Dixie had never picked a snipe.)  Labradors were sent,  but they refused to pick the bird.  Dixie was sent.  She scooped it up without a second thought, and charged straight back to me.  However she refused to release the tiny bird.  Her mouth was tight clamped despite the threat of our toes meeting.  She insisted on carrying the snipe all the way back to the vehicles,  before giving up her prize, which thankfully was undamaged. 


A man from France was shooting there that day.  He said that in France, if dogs don't release they lift an earflap and blow into the ear.  Apparently the dog releases its prize immediately!  I haven't tried this yet!


My first day's shooting this season was last Tuesday,  2nd September. On the first drive I killed a partridge which dropped into a hedge.  Dixie picked it with alacrity at the end of the drive, and presented it in textbook style.   I then sent her to hunt along a hedgeline and she discovered an exhausted young bird that had escaped the guns and had tucked into a furrow at the edge of the field. She picked it and gave it to me immediately,  undamaged.  When she wasn't looking I released it and it flew away. 


Hopefully this season I won't need recourse to threaten to stand on Dixie's foot,  or even to blow down her ear!

John

September 11, 2014 at 6:19 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Keith61
Member
Posts: 505

:)

 Hi Lynn..... Kidding.... If I make it up to John Buxton's this year, watch out... I mght drop-in!

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"Outside of a dog, a book is probably a Man's best friend and inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

Groucho Marx

September 11, 2014 at 1:50 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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