Our expert says:
Dog Behaviour Expert
Hi there Shnoodle, nice to hear from you again!
OK, there is a definate amount of obsessive behaviour happening here and i would suggest that first you bring in basic House Rules to raise yourselves in the combined human/canine pack. At this stage the dog has figured out exactly how to get the ball thrown and in this situation is the 'pack leader', so to speak. Try the following:-
1. Ignore dog when you arrive home (difficult but you are 'thinking dog'). Dont look him, talk to him or interact with him in any way. When he gives up (and he eventually will), give him about 30 seconds to digest the change, then call him, ask for a sit and give a small treat and quiet praise.
2. Put him on a 'work to earn' schedule. Take his daily allowance of food, and call him and ask for a behaviour (such as a sit) and then reward with one or two pieces of food. Keep on doing this throughout the day, giving him his daily allowance that way.
3. Get hold of some really nice chew toys and make them even more appealing by way of smearing a tiny wee bit of peanut butter in a hoof (for e.g.) and then some biltong jammed in the bottom and offer him this. There are some excellant ideas for toys on my friendsofthedog site under 'Toys' and '50 ways with kongs' you can try as well. This will give him an alternative to balls to keep him busy.
4. For the next few days while you are doing the above, the balls are hidden away.
5. At the same time, start to get him out for exercise, as much as you can, especially the times he used to be more fixated on the ball.Dogs that show obsessive tendancies are very often bored and/or frustrated.
6. When the above are in place then bring back the ball, but remember that as pack leader, the ball belongs to you, not the dog. Have a game of ball with him after the walk for about 15 minutes, then as pack leader, you put the ball away, saying 'finished' as you do so.
7. If he comes and demands attention at any time during the above, totally ignore him, even going to the extent that is he is bugging you and wont stop, walk out the door, closing it behind you and stay away for about 30 seconds. Then come back in the room and resume what you were doing again. If he keeps on bugging you, repeat the leaving the room for 30 seconds. this is a variation of a Time-out and is something that dogs recognize and respond too very quickly.
Personally, after the above is in place, I would keep the ball away from him and bring it out as a special game. If you do leave a ball lying around by mistake, then remember that he is totally ignored when demanding it be thrown. Good luck and do let me know how you go, thanks Scotty
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