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Building Ball Drive

KNPV, Schutzhund, Ring, PSA, etc - General Discussion
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Use this forum for general discussion of Protection Sports. Please use the sub-forums for specific issues in the various phases.
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Owned-By-Hendrix
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Building Ball Drive

Post by Owned-By-Hendrix » Thu Aug 21, 2014 5:40 am

I thought I would put this out there in case anyone was having the same problems I was having. After a recent decision to not use a tug for Hendrix in training as he got so possessive over it it wasn't worth the fight to even try to play tug, I moved him over to the ball. Now H has always presented a particularly different dog in training as he seems to require a very different approach to certain things. This is one of those areas: in short, if the ball is on a rope he refuses to see the ball and goes for the rope. Nothing can change that so we started using loose balls, which he loves dearly.

In terms of drive, H's ball drive isn't quite the same as his tug drive, and I was having a hard time transitioning him to a ball because while he loved it, he was also willing to walk away from it or simply refused to return it no matter what command was issued (which is not how he normally plays fetch). A friend suggested using two balls, when he has one and won't give it back, take the other and start throwing it around acting like it's one of the greatest things ever. Once he comes over, throw the ball, and when he chases it and drops the other, rush to that ball and repeat (as a side note, I've seen Schutzhund trainers do this with pieces of hose or tugs too).

This is a fantastic technique and H responded to it…. but we still had the problem of him simply not having enough drive. That's when I read on one of the German Shepherd boards someone mentioned ball drive was closely linked to prey drive. Knowing H had a high prey drive I tried an experiment: sitting on the ground one evening with one of his favorite balls, I proceed to pass it back and forth between my hands as fast and accurately as I could. The result was H rushing over to stare at the wonder in a stance like electricity was dancing on his skin. I kept going; he started to try to catch the ball. When I threw it he couldn't wait to chase after it.

Applying the two ball concept and the idea of a "prey ball" I started building his drive up until I had a dog that was barking and leaping at me to very actively get the ball no matter where I tossed it or played with it. With his drive high enough, I started working this into OB. It took a few sessions to help him release he could harness his drive and not just leap around like a dork but now he has the idea down and his heeling work is completely changed.

While my idea of a prey ball is probably completely off the wall and has no basis in actual theory, it seems to work for my guy and now all I need is to grab a certain ball, toss it up once, and he's right there with his drive. Does anyone else have any techniques they use to help build ball drive? I would love to hear them as this has become a recent interest of mine.
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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by Raven » Thu Aug 21, 2014 2:09 pm

Awesome job, Kira.

Suggestions? It sounds like you've nailed it.

Can you use a squeaker in training? (Probably not, but you could at home. The squeak sounds like prey....)
Though I can only hope to become the person who my animals believe I am, the things that they have taught me have made me a better human being. ~~~Sharon~~~

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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by Dutchringgirl » Thu Aug 21, 2014 2:27 pm

For me, the dog is telling you that the tug works best for him, why , then, take the time to figure out a new way to get ball drive when you could have worked on his possessiveness for the tug. Thalies tug drive is huge so I spent the time with that over taking time to reteach when I could be using that time for something else.

I dont mean to sound like a poop, but for me, it all goes back to listening to our animals.
Lisa, Thalie CGC & Sadie, Cookie the Basset, CT
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karenz
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Tell us about yourself: My name is Karen and I have a dutch shepherd, Xander, born 6/14/13. He is my second dutch shepherd. My first was Rawly. Even though Xander is my second I still have a lot to learn. That is why I'm here, to learn, get advice, and meet people who love these guys as much as I do.
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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by karenz » Thu Aug 21, 2014 3:25 pm

I'm glad this was posted. I'm having a somewhat similar problem with Xander. His ball drive and tug drive are equally strong. Since I have actually been building his ball/tug drive he is becoming obsessed with both. At times I can not get him to out the ball or tug. I've tried the two ball/tug method but he will not trade. He also won't out for his favorite treat. So there we are in a battle of who is going to win. I don't want him to win because I don't want him to think he can get away with it. When he is outing like he should I do occasionally let him win at tug. I'm very interested in hearing some ideas on how to handle this.
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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by Owned-By-Hendrix » Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:29 pm

Nope not a poop at all Lisa! I get that Q a lot. It all comes down to the type of possessiveness I see in H when we tug, which I think stems all the way back to when the training director of our previous PSA club was teaching him how to tug. He never ever let H win, and when he did it was after putting him through the wringer, so he came out unsure and stressed. At the time I had no idea how this would impact H and now I know better. I've rehabbed his confidence and relaxed him in his bite work, but the tug seems to remain a state of mind of "win at all costs" possessive and very much enjoys the fight of getting the tug. Tug is not a fun back and forth, tug is miniature bite session for him. His current PSA trainer and I tried everything we could think of, the ME DVDs on tugging, everything, but it remains in H's eyes a fight to own it. And last time we attempted tugging he actually managed to yank my shoulder out of it's socket (as it's my bad shoulder that doesn't stay in socket) and ended up with me going back to PT for a few weeks. I've even seen him tug a 6'2" man down and after that decided as much as he liked the tug this wasn't the right state of mind he needed as a reward; the fight could easily turn defensive and we'd be back to square one. Hence why I decided to use a ball a even though his drive for it was slightly lower than a tug, it was higher than his declining food drive and also something I could not kill myself on. He carries that same possessiveness to the bite sleeves and suits but since he never had a lot of experience with them from the previous training director, we've been able to funnel that into a different behavior. In fact, the only thing he tugs nicely with is his hollee ball, but it's hard to hide a 8" hollee ball on your person for training and that's the only size he likes. I have some really hilarious pics of me trying! Lol.

Karen, have you seen the Michael Ellis tug DVD? For teaching the out he immobilizes the tug completely and tells the dog to out. If the dog still tries to tug he says "no, out" and makes sure the tug can't move. I know for the two ball thing I REALLY had to work to get H's attention. I basically had to jump around throwing the ball around and catching it, acting like I had won a million dollars and excitedly yelling "yay! Woooohoooo! Wheeee!" And sometimes turn my back to him. After the initial "wtf" he would come over and then want what I had. After a while all I had to do was shout "wheeee" and he's come running.

Sharon - I don't know about squeaky balls but H loves to think they're prey and chase after them... When they're on the ground. The boy is weirdly specific about his balls; I think in another life he was a snooty Victorian Englishman who collected stamps. I was thinking about trying one of the ChuckIt whistle balls though.
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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by Raven » Thu Aug 21, 2014 10:17 pm

I haven't watched the Ellis DVD but that's how I first got Thor to out. I just stopped moving. It just made sense since it's hard to tug or fight something that isn't tugging or fighting back. He got it--BAM! The only minor issue we had was he occasionally wouldn't open his mouth quite enough to fully free the tug, so it'd get kind of hung up on the back teeth. It was only excitement. :eek:
Though I can only hope to become the person who my animals believe I am, the things that they have taught me have made me a better human being. ~~~Sharon~~~

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Tell us about yourself: My name is Karen and I have a dutch shepherd, Xander, born 6/14/13. He is my second dutch shepherd. My first was Rawly. Even though Xander is my second I still have a lot to learn. That is why I'm here, to learn, get advice, and meet people who love these guys as much as I do.
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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by karenz » Thu Aug 21, 2014 10:51 pm

Raven wrote:I just stopped moving. It just made sense since it's hard to tug or fight something that isn't tugging or fighting back. He got it--BAM! The only minor issue we had was he occasionally wouldn't open his mouth quite enough to fully free the tug, so it'd get kind of hung up on the back teeth.
I do stop moving and pulling but when Xander gets that intense and obsessed he still won't let go. That's when we stand there both holding, not pulling, and the battle of stamina begins. I have literally stood there holding for 10 to 15 minutes before he finally outs. And when he does out he gets rewarded. This isn't an every time thing. Just sometimes.
Karen & Xander

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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by Dutchringgirl » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:03 am

Gotcha!! Im sure the M.E. vids would help. When I taugh Thalie, she was in her harness and I would hold her up until she let go, thats how we taught them all to out. With Sadie, She was tough when she was a pup, she would not give it to me at all, BUT, if i put her in a down she will, go figure LOL. so now when we play if I say " OUT" she downs and drops it.
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Tell us about yourself: My name is Sandi, I have just added a nearly 4 month old Dutch Shepherd to my family. Her name is Mina, but it should be Mean Uuh! Actually, she is as sweet as she is spicy and has great drive already. I'm looking forward to learning as much as possible about the breed and having a competent working family member.

Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by SandiHunt » Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:02 pm

So happy I found this thread, I'll be tossing the ball back and forth to get some ball drive going. Prey drive is fantastic, bite is fantastic, but I need a transition from food markers and ball drive was just marginal.
Sandi, Ali (Presa), Pierre (Bichonpoo) & Mina (DS) - MO

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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by Dutchringgirl » Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:26 pm

Im not a fan of food unless that is all they will respond to. The two ball, tug , what ever, is a great method.
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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by k9lexi » Wed Apr 27, 2016 12:30 am

Hi Kira, great thread you started. Yiu mentioned using the ball for heel work. Is that just keeping the dog on you so yiu have the attention? The trainers I worked with knew Lexi had a very high ball drive but never mentioned that ... if that is what you are referring to.

Lots of people mention "out" is that the same thing as drop it or release?

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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by Dutchringgirl » Wed Apr 27, 2016 12:52 pm

the way I taught heel with the tug, ball can be used too, I had the tug in my training vest pocket just peeking out, or you can hold it and waive it and make it very "wantable". Get excited about it and make them want it, let them see it and hold them at the heel. Sometimes I would use a wall to keep the dogs butt from swinging out. do a few steps and when the heel is good, their shoulder at your knee, reward. I used to train them to sit at my halt, that can come later. By holding the toy up you can also teach them to be looking at you so when you are walking they pay attention to you, not whats around them.
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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by ICE » Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:05 pm

I have always felt that when training new behaviors food is a good option. It helps the dog keep his head and learn what you are teaching. Once they have it (it doesn't have to be perfect, just a good understanding) then use tug to cement and proof it.
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Tell us about yourself: Over the past 25 years I shared my life with a Rott, two Akitas, and a Shepherd/Husky mix. I now have my first Dutch Shepherd. Lexi was born in early September 2014. She is great in so many different ways but I could use advice from some been there done that DS owners.

Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by k9lexi » Wed Apr 27, 2016 11:33 pm

Lexi does heel but it is far from perfect. I use treats but the want for a treat isn't as high as want of a ball ;)

What about "out"? Is that like "drop it"?

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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by Dutchringgirl » Wed Apr 27, 2016 11:52 pm

Personally, I dont like food for reward. If the ball is high, then use a few of them. Out is like Drop it. After s while, mine know, Out, gimme, let go, drop it
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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by ICE » Thu Apr 28, 2016 12:49 pm

Sounds like Lexi has the understanding of what heel is - now is the perfect time to cement and proof with the ball. Most of us are looking for that intense heel - the ball or tug will bring it to that level. The ball or tugging releases out of heel position anyway - so you can work on your out away from the heel.
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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by Owned-By-Hendrix » Sat Apr 30, 2016 10:21 pm

The best heel work I've seen used food and lures for year to cement the behaviors then transferred to balls/tugs. The reason behind using food first is that food, compared to a ball or tug, is lower excitement so you aren't sending them into spaz frenzy while teaching. Ideally you want them attentive because they want the reward, but aren't short circuiting and solely focused on the reward. This totally depends on the dog though - some dogs have zero food drive and others learn better with toys.

If you feel Lexi is solid in her positioning, you can start transitioning to the ball. I would start off by going into heel to get the ball - so playing then telling her to heel and pulling the ball up on the side she heels on. Second her butt hits you throw the ball or drop the ball, depending on if she likes to chase or just have the ball. As you progress from there (one step, two step, etc) you're still keeping the ball in sight. If you want her looking at you, hold the ball on your shoulder. As you build duration and she's solid you can start hiding the ball. There's training vests with ball drops and the MCRS magnet system is my favorite, but honestly I used to hide the ball down my shirt and act like there wasn't a huge bulge lol...

Edited to add the idea between hiding the ball (like Lisa was talking about) is to keep the dog from trying to pull the reward out from you and self satisfy. This step is something you can try first if she's really wild. H bounces when I have the ball visible and I like that look. But I worked with him that trying to steal the ball got a correction and heeling was the fastest way to the reward.

And to answer your question, the ball replaces food because it's generally a higher value reward to the dog. Higher value reward means the dog is more willing to turn away from tough stimulus for it. Kinda like if someone offered me a Reese's to stop watching Netflix, I would ignore the offer, but if they offered me a filet and lobster, I would be turning off Netflix in a heartbeat.
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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by k9lexi » Sun May 01, 2016 8:33 pm

Patty, not sure exactly what yiu mean by work yourself out of a heal please elaborate.

Lexi knows come to come in front of me and sit. She knows heel as to walk beside me. Kira, on the step 1 and step 2, am I saying heel for her to walk beside me or to come and sit next to me. I think it is the latter because yo mentioned the second her.butt.hits, does that mean hits the ground next to me in a heel position? If yes, is the reward telling her free and throwing the ball ? This will be a new concept, work for play time

She has had a couple moments over the past week or so. Like a mini melt down, throw myself on the ground and play bite ... I don't like it one bit and tried something new this time. I had been reading about tone of the command and I firmly believe in that ... so instead of my usual tactics which is not using her commands and which does use a completely different tone, I went into our training routine, run her thru her commands, same tone, same commands. It was second nature we've been doing it so much lately it was great and in a couple minutes of that I freed her and she was fine. It was a moment of success .

Kira, please lt me know about step 1 and 2. I'd love to start working other stuff into our sessions that seems like a good one to start with.

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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by Owned-By-Hendrix » Sun May 01, 2016 11:52 pm

Heel is kinda a dual command. Heel means, in essence, come into a position and maintain that position, moving or standing still. So if the dog is running around, heel means come and sit next to me in position, and if we move you maintain that position as we walk. You don't necessarily need to say heel again in this case. For example, if H is running around in the backyard and I say his heel command, he runs over and sits in heel position. He won't move until I release him or we start moving. In addition he knows if I move pushing off of one leg means for him to wait or to move with me. If we are loose leash walking and I say his heel command he comes closer and maintains his position with shoulder at my knee. If you don't want the sit position or she wasn't taught heel was a position that extends to sit, then you can skip to the later steps where you start moving. It all depends on how she was taught. The best advice is to use the ball as you used food (although keeping a bit of distance is advised lol), same exact way so she has the framework. Does that make sense?
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Re: Building Ball Drive

Post by ICE » Mon May 02, 2016 7:05 pm

k9lexi wrote:Patty, not sure exactly what yiu mean by work yourself out of a heal please elaborate.
I meant that when you are using a toy for heel, when you release to tug or throw your dog then leaves heel position and you can work on perfecting your out command away from heel.
Patty and Ice

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