Whiteshepherd writes to me with a question about dog attention training:
Hi, I’ve just finished reading your dog training book and had a few questions about dog attention training: I have a 9 months old white German shepherd dog. He’s been pretty dominant compared to the previous two dogs that I had a few years ago. I used the techniques described in the book and fixed his pulling issue on leash and got great results with the sit and down-stay. I also tried to build up his ball drive.
Dog Attention Training Fails Once Her Dog Gets The Ball
The problem is: he’d totally focus and fixate on the ball and ignore me for the whole time. Once I let him to have the ball, then he went wild and became dominant again and tried to correct me if I touch him or put him into a sit or down stay. It’s like the ball represents gaining the controlling power back. Meanwhile, without the toy, he looks so bored and lays down very slowly, but at least he listens to me and would not break down stay without the release command. I gave him praise when he did a good job. I did the watch me exercise and even spit food from my mouth. it helped a little bit, but didn’t get a significant result like I see when you teach dog attention training.
I hope i described the situation clearly. I just wanna him pay more attention and be happy. he’s a really smart dog and once he pays attention he learns things very fast.
Hi, White Shepherd:
What you’re going to need to do first is: Resolve the relationship issues you have with your dog. He should not be correcting you for going after the ball. You are the Alpha dog, not him. It is YOUR BALL and he is YOUR SUBORDINATE (in the pack). The subordinate dog never corrects the Alpha dog, in the wild. If he does, then it is interpreted as insubordination and a direct challenge to his leadership… which can affect the SURVIVAL of the entire pack.
So, it needs to be addressed, immediately.
You need to correct him with 2X the seriousness that he corrects you.
It’s only after you’ve established yourself — and let him know that if he even thinks about correcting you, that it’s not going to be in his best interest– that you can start working on the obedience and building him up to make him flashy in his obedience routine.
Something you might also do is work with the presence of the ball, but not it’s inclusiveness in the exercise (hold on, I’ll explain…not as complicated as it sounds at first!). This takes away the cumbersome-ness of trying to hold a ball AND give a motivational correction.
Work attention and stationary exercises with the ball on the ground. Walk near the ball, sit next to the ball, and make sure that he’s paying attention to you. Do anything you can with the ball on the ground, and once you have that down, start moving the ball with your feet like a soccer ball to make it more appealing.
J&J sells a waist-clip to hold a ball hands-free, but it only works with tennis-ball or Chuck-It-type balls. It might be of help too, depending on your needs and the size of the ball he needs.
If at all possible, I’d also recommend a ball on a string. I believe Adam has, in the book, some instructions on how to make one yourself. It’s just a good toy to have, and the string adds something for you to grab a hold of. Please keep me updated as to how the dog attention training progresses.