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Dog training question - breaking the "Fetch" obsession

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Petebass, Oct 29, 2006.

  1. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Our 8 month old Border Collie is absolutely beautiful, has responded very well to potty and obedience training, and has filled the house with joy and laughter. He’s almost the perfect dog. If only we could get him to stop bringing twigs, tree bark, and blades of grass in to the house………

    He loves playing “Fetch” so much that no matter how many times a day we play it, or for how long we play it, he wants more. So when I’m trying to do other stuff (eg work), I find I have to put his fetch toys out of reach or he’ll keep bringing them over, dropping them on to my lap, and barking loudly until I play fetch with him. If I take the toys away, that’s when he goes looking for anything that’ll work as a substitute, usually twigs or blades of grass.

    The teacher at puppy school suggested we should ignore his pleas and he’ll eventually gets the message. The operative word being “eventually”. I’m pretty patient when my eye is on a long term greater good, but not even I can take 2+ hours of relentless barking and jumping all over me that shows no sign of subsiding. He’s a stubborn little thing. Apparently it’s that very ability to focus so intently on the “mission” that makes Border Collies such good sheep dogs, so I worry that breaking his fetch obsession might be a futile attempt at reversing their breeding traits? If that’s the case, then we’ll accept that and deal with it, but I doesn’t hurt to ask………

    The next suggestion was to take the blade of grass off him, put it out of reach and get him used to hearing the word “No”. We were advised to combine it with a hand gesture as we did for the other basic commands (sit, stay etc). It half worked. He knows that I’m not going to throw that piece of grass for him, so now I spend all day taking blades of grass off him and saying no - He just keeps going outside and getting another one to replace the one I just took off him and before long, the house is full of bark, twigs, and blades of grass.

    We don’t want to lock him outside, not when we’re home. We love his company too much and he’s not always naughty. As I type this he’s trying to take a mid afternoon nap, curled up in a ball with my right foot firmly underneath his belly. If I move my foot, he shifts his position so he’s on top of my foot again. That’s just one of the million little cute things he’ll do every day!

    Do any of you dog experts have any other suggestions as to how we can break the fetch obsession, or at the very least convey the message that we’re not able to play fetch right now?
  2. canopener


    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    The only thing I can think of is that he might have too much nervous energy! But even that might not be right. You might just have to start wearing him out, but it's probably more likely that he's wearing you out. I'm no dog expert, but it sounds like you'll have to pacify him or just wait til he gets over it.
  3. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Hmmm... I've had retrievers that were obsessed with playing fetch, to the point that I had to occasionally stop playing with one because it seemed like the dog was going to get sick/hurt because it was hot out and he would ignore drinking his water in order to play fetch. The dogs would never bark when I wouldn't play fetch with them. They would bring the ball or duck wing up and hold it (they were trained to have the handler take the object from them, not to drop it) and look at you. Eventually they would lose interest, or could just be told to lay down or something.
  4. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    We've been told he's no more energetic that other puppies of his breed. My Fiance disagrees. The reason we went with a Border Collie is because she already has one which is now 9 yrs old, and she's a beautiful dog. When my fiance moved away from her parents, she had to leave the dog behind. She doesn't remember the older Border Collie being so energetic when she was a pup. Ours is a male though, and the Boy dog Vs Girl dog thing might partly exlain his extra energy?

    On advice we had him de-sexed and it calmed him down a lot, but it didn't curb his affection for fetch. We've also been advised he'll grow out of it but the general consensus is he's likely to stay this way for 3yrs or so. I'd like to shorten that, but only if it's possible to do it without making both he and I miserable in the process.
  5. tkarter


    Jan 1, 2003
    The command No should stop it and the command Fetch should restart it.


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