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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello, this is my first post :)
I have a 5 month old lab mix who has become completely obsessed with playing fetch. It probably started about one month ago. We have a backyard with a dog door. We hide the ball when we are not playing. However he tells me he wants to play, or thinks we might play, by running to the dog door and going halfway out and staring back at me through the deck door.
It has gotten to the point where no matter what he is doing (sleeping, playing with kong, eating) if I make a movement like get up from the couch, walk into the kitchen, open a drawer, even cough loudly, he races to the dog door and gives me his fetch face. I can't even work on training anymore because if I give him any attention at all he races to the door. Its even hard to pet him or put on his leash because he runs to the door to play fetch when I call him.
I need some help!! Thanks
 

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I would use the ball to your advantage. It can become the best possible reward for sitting while you put the leash on, or remaining on his dog bed while you get up and walk around the house, etc.
 

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I would also use the ball as a reward. My GSD is ball obsessed and it works perfectly for us. However, if your dog is unable to focus because it means so much to him, I would start leaving a few balls in the house for him to run around with/amuse himself with so that it's not AS big of a deal when you get up to do something, and ignore his door darting for your attention when you don't want to play.
 

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Ignore him until he does what you want. Muggsy was half golden retriever and just as fetch obsessed. I made the same mistake with him and fixed it by ignoring him until he did what I wanted, then he got a fetch.

You really need to a) desensitize him to movement. You getting up does not mean fetch. You walking by a ball does not mean fetch.

b) Use fetch as a reward. Dogs who sit nicely get to fetch. Dogs who bother you do not. It will not take him long to figure this one out, though being a puppy, perhaps a little while.

Be prepared for extinction burst. That's when a new behavior is just about learned, the dog suddenly reverts to trying the old behavior 150%. Just endure it, keep up the new training, and it'll be fine. An extinction burst, while obnoxious, is a good sign. It means the new behavior is just about learned.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thank you all for your suggestions!
What is the best way to desensitize him to movement? Do I just ignore him when he does it? That is what I have been doing but it does not seem to be sinking in.

I do let him keep the ball sometimes but he usually pushes it under furniture and then barks at at.

I have thought about using the ball for training and I can see how it would be a good tool, although he does fixate on it and seems to not hear anything I say. But right now I am more concerned about his behavior when the ball isn't around.
 

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Ball obsessed dogs are the best. ;). My younger dog would fetch 24/7 if I let her. And she's very pushy and constantly trying to get me to throw her ball. She'll also squeak that thing for hours.

My suggestion is to be firm an consistent. If he is demanding you just can't give in. That may mean earplugs or just learning to tune the dog out for a while. My dog demand barks so will drop the ball at my feet and bark at me for hours to play. With firm rules she will cut it out but I CANNOT cannot bend on these rules. Even at four she will take any leeway and run with it. At first I just kept playing playing playing thinking I needed to tire her out. Yeah no. Doesn't work. The ball goes away when I say and you can keep it if you play it quietly by yourself but no your barking isn't getting you anywhere.


Also self control exercises are good to start. I wish I had started them sooner with my dog. Maybe not with the ball first by eventually work the ball into your sits and stays. Mia is four now and will sit and wait (on edge) if I put her in a stay and throw it. I still cannot throw the ball really close to her and expect her to stay. She'll jump for it every time. So.... Baby steps and teaching your dog to control that impulse. It takes time.
 

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Impulse control games for dogs:


Remember: when clicker training, you can use a toy as a reward instead of a treat. If you find your dog is just too amped out about one to pay attention to you, try to other. If you find they just don't care enough about one, try the other.
 

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Same with Roman!

P1040698.jpg
His toy or...
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the Cat's toy mouse...

Anything!
 
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