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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Greetings all,

We have a 1.5 year old female Border Collie who is a joy in all aspects. Her name is "Scout" and she loves to play CATCH with dog frisbees and the "Flying Squirrel".

We exercise her with typically one walk per day and 2 play sessions (AM & PM) playing catch with the Frisbees.

One thing she does however which I can't seem to break is - upon the return of a tossed Frisbee, Scout places it on the ground about 3-4 feet from my feet. I therefore must get out of my chair and take a step or two to pick up the toy and toss it again.

What I want to do is teach her to drop the toy right at my feet.

Also - Scout is not at all "food motivated" - so using treats of some sort usually has no effect with her. She gets laser focused on the game of playing catch.

I'm thinking - Should I not pick up the toy ever ever - when she leaves it 4 feet away from my feet?
How do I train her to get the toy closer?

Thank you for any suggestions...
 

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Back up a step as she approaches.
Point to the ground, she could get the idea. Works with Bucky.
Wait her out. Bucky will go play on his own and I won't like what he comes up with as it is generally noisy. I do find the floor littered with toys right at my feet if I've been ignoring him for a while though.
Give up and get up. That couple steps per toss adds up to a bit of exercise for you.

I've about given up. Bucky loves fetch although I wouldn't call him super focused on the toy and he does the same. I counted 100 fetches last night and my knee is really tired this morning. Bucky? He played for 20-30 more fetches with my daughter once she came home and likely would have done another 100. Really I don't want to over do it, always wanted a dog that loves to play fetch.
 

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I had this problem with Ida, and I fixed it by doing two things:

1) Have two toys (discs, in your case). Throw one. When she brings it back, just before she gets to the place where she normally sets it down (and while she's still moving) praise her while she is still moving towards you (or maker with a yes, or a clicker, if you're a clicker trainer), and then turn around and throw the second toy the other way. Repeat. Play this way for a few days; she should gradually start to bring the disc closer to you in preparation for continuing in the same direction to get the second tossed toy. If your dog is more likely to chase after the second toy while she still has the first, wait until she drops the first toy before throwing the second one.

2) Teach her a retrieve to hand. Once she's doing it reliably on your cue (mine is "Give it"), you can give her that cue during your games of fetch while she is on her way to you but, ideally, before she drops it 3-4 feet away so that you don't build a behavior chain of drop - cue to bring it - retrieve to hand (which is what I did, oops). Not the end of the world, but kind of annoying to cue it each time.
 

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Should I not pick up the toy ever ever - when she leaves it 4 feet away from my feet?
Basically, you could use a combination of R+ (rewarding her for bringing the toy to hand, by continuing the game with another throw)

and P- (halting the game by picking the toy up and temporarily putting it away if she drops it, and then ignoring her for a suitable length of time )


Recommending this combination because you don't have a food drive to capitalize on, and your only viable means of 'communication' seems to be the toy itself. It's going to be a lot more difficult and time consuming if you're unable to utilize some food treats to convey "yes. THAT'S what I wanted".
 

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My suggestion is starting the game out of your chair for a while, and when she starts toward you/gets within about 8 feet (since she drops at 4) turn your back or side to her, reach out *behind* you and take a few steps away from her to see if you can get hte toy all the way in.

This is super common in BC, actually and it has less to do with not understanding the game than it does to sensitivity to body pressure. You can get past it and get them 'used to' bringing it all the way back but they have big space bubbles, they're reluctant to invade other people's/animals space. Standing and facing them directly can be a little... high pressure for them. So they stop outside that bubble, drop the toy and move away while it's picked up. It's... politeness in their head. Take the pressure off by moving away yourself or turning your back or side (or ideally both) for a while and then slowly fading that (take fewer steps, then no steps and just present side or back, then slowly turn to face forward - over a matter of days or weeks) and they get it/get over it/figure out what you want.

But it's the easiest solution around something that is really, usually anyway, them trying their best to be 'polite' as they understand it - and to stay comfortable themselves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all for your inputs!

So far however - no luck. As to offering treats - I can hold a small piece of cheese on her wet nose while she is on point waiting for the disc to be tossed - no effect. This dog gets laser focused on the game and could care less about food treats. It's still early in my training so I need to keep at it.

I like Captain Jack's inputs will I will try as well. I like your assessment about the BC being polite and offering "space". That is exactly what she does. For example, if the game of catch is over, and I am in the backyard setting up my sprinkler - not paying any attention to her - she will come up from behind me or to my side and literally put the disc toy on my shoe laces! This has happened many times. I just can't get her to do this while we are in a play session.

So with that, I will try Captain Jack's suggestion of turning away and breaking eye contact. Maybe then, the BC won't be so "polite". Thanks,
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Still no luck with this 1.5 year old female Border Collie.
She is not responding to the above but I will keep trying.
In the meantime, she is good for my back (lots of bending over!).
 

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Might try doing lunges and squats as well.

How about using something like a chuckit so you don't have to bend over quite so far?

Bucky won't come closer with a ball but will push it with his nose. This morning we were playing tug with an unstuffy toy and when I won the game I threw it, when he won he did a victory dance then came to me when I asked him to so you might consider playing with a different toy.

I taught Sassy to retrieve to hand using Sue Sternberg's Inductive Retrieve. You start with the object in your hand and get the dog to touch, mouth then take it. Might look into that and train with something she isn't particularly interested in gripping/chasing and work to more exciting toys.

It's a fun puzzle working out how to communicate with the dog.
 

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You have got some useful advice so far, but I thought I’d put up a quick little answer as well in case anyone else may be looking at this thread.

With my parents dog, Soka, she figured out pretty quick what ‘go get your ball/frisbee’ meant and would readily grab it when told that. So we built that to bringing it closer - starting with any tiny bit closer to us and working up to right at our feet. This was a workaround as she is not a fan of giving it up to your hand (admittedly she figured out to drop it at our feet so quickly that we never worked on fetch to hand). The reward was more fetch so you could see the gears working on how she could get us to throw the ball again, and it worked out very well. She will VERY readily toss her toys at your feet, even picking them up and tossing them again if you ignore her for too long. She’s also known to kindly shove her frozen, snowy frisbee into your legs before dropping it in winter when she’s very excited to play.

I did something similar with Atlas, though we don’t play fetch outside generally (he thinks it’s then playing keep away or gets too distracted to bring it back). In the house he learned to drop the ball onto the couch/our legs to get us to throw it. If I sit on the floor I can get him to drop it right into my hand, though it’s not something I work on for the most part. (He will give up things -like socks- when needed, which I’m happy with for now.)

Both Soka and Atlas are Aussies, and definitely not as sensitive about body pressure. I hope you will find some progress with your pup!
 

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I would use backchaining and a two toy game. If she mouths a disc in your hand, you toss a second one for her. Yeah, she might not bring the second one back yet, so do very short tosses so you don't need to go far. The general progression might look like:

-mouth /reward
-mouth, hold/lift (and your hand grasps it) /reward
-put the disc on the ground right under your hand. When she gets it you calmly reach up to grab it. /reward
-lightly toss the disc 6 inches away, you should see a return to the reinforced position (bringing to your hand)...

etc.

Or, what gingerkid said about pretty much shaping a closer and closer retrieve each time. Heck, if you ignore her and wait her out, she might just bring it a tad closer on her own.

It's hard to explain since both techniques here are "shaping" which is easier shown than written about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you all so much. I haven't given up yet. In the meantime, my lower back muscles are firming up!
 
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