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Pup wants to play tug.

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2020 7:32 pm
by Brystons90
My Brittany is coming along very nicely with basic obedience. I just started doing some positive pigeon drills with her. My problem right now is retrieving.

So a little back story, where I live there is a high rate of parvo. Basically I had to keep her in the house till she had her last shots at 4 months old. I had a very hard time trying to tire her out. So I did the unthinkable and played a lot of tug with her. Now all she wants to do is play tug. She will go out and retrieve the bumper and come straight back to me, but she wants to play tug when she gets back. I’ve tried calming her down by stroking her softly and sitting her next to me and just taking out of her mouth. But now she knows what I’m going to do so she bucks and growls when I take it away. I tried lifting the back leg flap but she does the same thing. Is the trained retrieve my only option now?

Re: Pup wants to play tug.

Posted: Wed Aug 26, 2020 8:09 am
by birddogger2
Brystons90 -

Yes you probably should not have played tug of war...but what is done is done.

I don't think the trained retrieve is your only option and, right now, it might not be your best option.

I can think of a couple of ways you can work this out that I would try first.

The big thing in my mind, is that the dog IS retrieving to you and obviously wants to do what has been a fun exercise with you. you don't want to discourage the willing retrieve, because that is a huge plus

My first choice would be to throw the bumper and when the dog comes back, have it sit in front of you and just put your hand out, under the lower jaw and wait. You my have to sit there a while and just wait, but I'd bet that eventually, if you wait, the dog will understand that the bumper is not something you want to play tug with. You might want to stroke the dog on the flank after a while to give a little positive reinforcement and give the dog a reason to give you the bumper.

I would try that for a while and if, after ten minutes or so, the dog does not willingly give up the bumper, I would bring out one of those knotted rope toys with the dog still siting there and wiggle it a bit, teasing the dog. after it has retrieved a bumper and is sitting there with your hand under the jaw as before. It will then have to decide if it wants to play with the rope toy or continue to hold onto the bumper. My bet is that it will spit out the bumper into your waiting hand and go for the rope toy. Praise the dog for making the "right" choice.

Eventually I think you can do the bumper drills with less and less tug encouragement, but keep up the praise when the dog makes the "right"
choice. I think the dog will learn that playing tug of war with the rope toy is OK and fun, but that the bumper is different and to get a reward or praise, a different behavioral response is expected when the bumper is involved. Brittanys are generally pretty smart and will figure out what it takes to have fun pretty quickly if you give them guidance and encouragement rather than forcing the issue.


Re: Pup wants to play tug.

Posted: Wed Aug 26, 2020 10:20 am
by Brystons90
Thanks ray! Awesome stuff!

Re: Pup wants to play tug.

Posted: Wed Aug 26, 2020 8:02 pm
by averageguy
Try trading a treat for the bumper.

Another option is tossing another bumper when the pup returns with the first one. Most likely the pup will drop the one it has to go get the other one and hopefully you can break the habit.

Teaching Hold will be helpful in training proper mouth manners.