Ace and I just got back from a two-day trip to visit family where Ace had the freedom to run in a big yard. The problem with that is it was harder to control him when he wasn’t on a leash. Sometimes he brought me sticks, totally fixated on them. All the toys were put away, and he still obsessively wanted to play fetch with anything. Of course, I didn’t throw the sticks.
One of the biggest challenges for me is dealing with everyone else, not just my dog. For example, most people (friends and family included) think I’m really strange for not allowing my dog to play fetch whenever he wants. He’s a retriever, they say, and he can’t be changed. That might be true, but I don’t believe it. And I am the one who has to live with a ball-obsessed dog, so I am going to at least try to fix this problem. I think part of the reason Ace’s first owner got rid of him was because of his annoying obsession with toys. But she didn’t tell me that when I adopted him!
Anyway, Ace got to run and run and run for two days, so he is good and tired. I got out a pile of his toys when we got home – balls, stuffed animals, bones, etc., and put them in a pile on the floor. He looked at me, like, “this has gotta be a trick.” Just the fact that he made eye contact with me with toys involved is a huge step for Ace. I’m hoping that if the toys are out all the time, they won’t be such a big deal. If he wants to play normally by himself with the toys, then that is fine. When he brings a toy to me and becomes even slightly fixated, that is when I will correct him by making him lie on his side.
I’ve written before that dogs with one obsession often have several obsessions. One of Ace’s other obsessions is water. He used to drink all his water immediately and would not allow any water left in a bowl. What I did to solve this was always keep his water bowl completely full at all times. Whenever he drank, I filled it up right away. He learned it was not necessary to drink it all. There will always be more water, and no one is trying to take it from him.
By keeping Ace’s toys out, I am hoping for a similar reaction. I will give him praise every time I notice him ignoring his toys, making eye contact with me or lying calmly next to a toy. We’ll see how this goes.
(This is day three of my 30-day challenge to break my dog