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Discussion Starter #1
You know how lots of dogs can catch things in the air, such as frisbees and tennis balls? Well, Biscuit doesn't do that. She waits until the thrown item lands. She can't even catch a treat in her mouth! The other day I tossed her a small piece of turkey burger and it bounced off her face. Yes, my dog is delightful and talented in many ways, but this is not one of them.

Is this something I can train her to do, like to catch a treat in the air? I don't really care about tennis balls, but catching treats in the air would be a cute trick, not to mention something that most dogs do naturally. Do any of you clicker training/shaping geniuses have any ideas?
 

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Throw the treat at your dog. If he doesn't catch it, take the treat away (you need to be fast for this one lol) and try again. He will eventually start to get frustrated that he isn't getting the treat and he will start attempting to get it any way he can, which will include trying to catch it.

If/when he does catch it, praise him and give him another treat!
 

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You might be able to teach her how to do it, at least sometimes. But some dogs just have bad depth perception. Toby has maybe a 50% catch rate, if that. He's just not good at it.
 

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Puck couldn't (and still to some extent, can't) catch. My boyfriend likes to say he takes after me :rolleyes:. Two things we did seemed to help: 1. We kept pelting him in the face with cheese, did this for about 5mins for a few days, after awhile he started to at least try to catch it. And 2. we got his favorite stuffy and did a slow one....two....three....toss kind of thing. And that also seemed to help a lot, now he can catch that stuffy 90% of the time.
 

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Make some popcorn. Toss a kernel. If she doesn't catch it, no reward mark+"leave it" and scoop it away. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

This is what worked for Kaki though she still needs a reminder session every now and then of what "catch" means.
 

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Catching is definitely not Molly's strong suit either. She doesn't seem to like things coming at her face. She is far more interested in chasing the ball than catching it mid-air.
 

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What is the breed? Some breeds are better at catch and fetch games than others - it depends on whether the breed was originally bred for sight or for smell. Hounds are a good example of a breed that may be worse at catching things - the sight and reflex just isn't the same as, say a collie or a retriever (being bred to retrieve, and all!).

That said, you should be able to teach any dog to catch if you really want - as well as what chipinmom said, you can try playing with a favorite toy, and dangling it just out of reach so that she has to jump up to grab it...progress to tossing it up above her, then to throwing it. If she really wants it, she'll get the hang of it.
 

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I taught my papillon how to catch with a larger stuffed animal, and then with a little tennis ball -- toys she really wanted. I'd toss them to her and I'd snatch them back up quickly if she missed. She caught on quickly and can now catch a blueberry I toss from halfway across a room. The AKK, though... he sucks at catching! He can catch big toys, and he makes a valiant effort to catch food, but it usually bounces off his chin.
 

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Last time I posted this, I was told I was mean....

The way I do it is take treats the dog really likes. Put the dog on a leash, let him know I have the treats, then toss them towards him but out of reach. The dog does not get those treats. I toss a few. To the sides, behind the dog etc. After you do this if the dog is food motivated, it will be revved up. Toss him a treat he can catch.... He will catch it.
 

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I use a small soft stuffed toy because you can, intermittantly have a game of tug.

Throw the toy at her nose,gently, and from far enough away so she can see it coming. First few times they close their eyes and turn away but make a game of it. Pick up the toy and rub it around their snout , step back and toss it. Repeat until she tries to catch then reward with lots of praise and have a game of tug. Start again and keep repeating.
 

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I like JohnnyBandit's approach, sometimes you need to entice the dog.

Semantic correction - Your dog "won't" catch... we don't know if he can't catch.

My dog is a retriever mix and likes to play catch... but sometimes he doesn't want to and will act just like your dog (or Santa's Little Helper in the Simpsons) and just let the tennis ball bounce off his face :) ... I get the message that Catch is over with. ...He "won't" catch.

On the other hand, he is 11 yo and his vision is degrading (so is mine... but I'm older than 11 yo :) ). He has trouble catching things that are smaller than a ping pong ball, and it is slowly getting worse. I toss him large nuggets of kibble before I feed him, and I think he is learning to catch based on te trajectory of my hand. He's still great with a tennis ball, but I think he has trouble focusing on the kibble. ... He "can't" catch.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks all! I'm glad to hear there is hope. These are some great suggestions and I'll give them a try for sure, both with toys and food. I especially like the pelt-with-popcorn idea. There's something a little pathetic about a dog that will allow a piece of turkey to bounce off her face without even trying to catch it. But I think Biscuit can learn! I'll let you know how it goes.

Last time I posted this, I was told I was mean....

The way I do it is take treats the dog really likes. Put the dog on a leash, let him know I have the treats, then toss them towards him but out of reach. The dog does not get those treats. I toss a few. To the sides, behind the dog etc. After you do this if the dog is food motivated, it will be revved up. Toss him a treat he can catch.... He will catch it.
I don't think this sounds mean. It just sounds like a way to turn on the drive.

What is the breed? Some breeds are better at catch and fetch games than others - it depends on whether the breed was originally bred for sight or for smell. Hounds are a good example of a breed that may be worse at catching things - the sight and reflex just isn't the same as, say a collie or a retriever (being bred to retrieve, and all!).
She's a mutt, but a retriever/sheltie mix so you would think this would be in her wheelhouse!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I like JohnnyBandit's approach, sometimes you need to entice the dog.

Semantic correction - Your dog "won't" catch... we don't know if he can't catch.

My dog is a retriever mix and likes to play catch... but sometimes he doesn't want to and will act just like your dog (or Santa's Little Helper in the Simpsons) and just let the tennis ball bounce off his face :) ... I get the message that Catch is over with. ...He "won't" catch.
Hahaha yes! Santa's Little Helper is exactly the right mental image.

And hey...I couldn't wiggle my eyebrows until I learned how. Maybe the Bisc just needs some help turning on the "catching stuff" reflex.
 

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Hounds are a good example of a breed that may be worse at catching things - the sight and reflex just isn't the same as, say a collie or a retriever (being bred to retrieve, and all!).
Haha I guess my hound mix is just too food motivated to get the memo he shouldn't be good at this. Oh course when he's too excited he frequently snaps his mouth too quick and it bounces off his face. The best is when he snaps too quickly and it bounces off but he still manages to catch it before it reaches the ground. We mostly do this with treats but he CAN catch a ball when he wants to, if he isn't feeling it he's perfectly content to let it hit him in the face. He sees it he just doesn't want to catch it.
 

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Puck couldn't (and still to some extent, can't) catch. My boyfriend likes to say he takes after me :rolleyes:. Two things we did seemed to help: 1. We kept pelting him in the face with cheese, did this for about 5mins for a few days, after awhile he started to at least try to catch it. And 2. we got his favorite stuffy and did a slow one....two....three....toss kind of thing. And that also seemed to help a lot, now he can catch that stuffy 90% of the time.
LOL :)!

(too short)
 

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Kabota is exactly the same as Biscuit. Muggsy was like a shark and would leap to catch things midair, so the first time I threw a treat at Kabota and it bounced off his face, I felt pretty bad. (It was kinda funny, too.)

I can sort of get Kabota to catch a frisbee. (I use a stuffee frisbee for obvious reasons.) My husband and I throw it to each other. Kabota watches, gets very interested and then will (sometimes) try to catch it in midair. He'll also let it hit the floor and then get it, or let it bounce off his face.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Update: This evening I tried some catching practice with Biscuit. I tried tossing tiny treats at her, but they hit her face. Then I tried tossing some beloved stuffies. Even if I tossed them very slowly, they still hit her in the face. I had some success throwing stuffies from 1 inch away. She caught those...VERY occasionally. Eventually she started to look in the other direction like a calming signal, so we stopped. It seems like she's so focused on me/my face that she doesn't see the treat/toy coming at her.
 

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Update: This evening I tried some catching practice with Biscuit. I tried tossing tiny treats at her, but they hit her face. Then I tried tossing some beloved stuffies. Even if I tossed them very slowly, they still hit her in the face. I had some success throwing stuffies from 1 inch away. She caught those...VERY occasionally. Eventually she started to look in the other direction like a calming signal, so we stopped. It seems like she's so focused on me/my face that she doesn't see the treat/toy coming at her.
Try the way I described.... Otherwise you are likely going to continue to bounce items off her face.
 
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