First Published in 2010
If you start teaching your pup directed play training at an early age you will be very glad you did for a number of reasons.
1. It is a great way to teach your dog to focus on you and ignore distractions
2. It teaches your dog to happily return to you and drop it's toy or ball at your feet or retrieve to hand
3. This is a great way to exercise your dog
4. It helps build strong play training drive in your dog which can be utilized in advanced training as your dog matures.
5. It will teach your dog not to steal or grab things and play the catch me if you can game
6. As you progress with the game you can begin working on your dogs self control and basic commands while maintaining complete focus
HOW IT’S DONE
When starting with a puppy you should have 2 identical toys, balls, sticks, or whatever you choose. You will need a long leash 20 feet or so and a flat collar. We start by tossing the first ball within the range of your leash, the reason being that if the pup wants to take off with the ball you can reel him in to you. Remember this is a game that you control and he or she needs to learn to play by the rules.
Once the ball is tossed you will ask him to "bring it" in an excited tone. When he returns to you show him the second ball in your hand. One dog always wants what the other dog has. So he will want the ball you have. Encourage him to drop the ball or put it in your hand and as soon as he does toss the second ball. As he is going for the second ball pick up the first and continue this game.
After a few sessions you will be able to throw the ball outside the range of the long leash. They will become so focused on this game that nothing else will matter to them but the game.
When they really get the hang of it you can hold the dog by the collar and tell them to stay, toss the ball wait a few seconds and command him bring it. As they are returning to you then you can work on the come command and sit in front before tossing the second ball. This becomes directed play training and motivational obedience all in a manner that can be fun and productive for you both.
Problems to watch for -
If the dog does not bring it close enough, ideally drop it at your feet or place it in your hand use lots of encouragement and back away to draw the dog closer.
If the dog runs out for the ball and does not bring it back don’t toss the second ball. Go out with him to the one you tossed and give the ball a little kick to encourage him to bring the one you have just thrown.
Don’t let the dog see you pick up the ball he has just dropped or he often will want that one and ignore the one you just tossed. Pick up the ball when he is retrieving and not watching you.
Have lots of fun with this because it can be a great foundation for future off leash control!
- Copyright Consummate K-9 Training LLC 2010