Since I’ve been doing most of my work with Ace outside, I decided to try working with him indoors. We basically did some of the same exercises we’ve tried before, I just want him to know he is expected to follow the same rules no matter where we are.
The next step is to work with him more intensely at the dog park. I haven’t done much of this yet. It’s embarrassing enough to blog about working with my dog to cure his ball obsession. Now I have to go work with him while people are watching us. Ha! But it will be an important step if I want my dog to learn to socialize normally with other dogs.
While working indoors, a good challenge for Ace is for him to lie down while I place a ball directly in front of him. If he fixates on it, I snap my fingers and say “Hey!” Then he looks at me instead and I tell him he’s good. He is doing very well with this and even accepts food from my hand while there is a ball right in front of him. Even two weeks ago, nothing was more important than a ball. He wouldn’t eat or drink with a ball in sight.
Another thing I’ve noticed about Ace is he is becoming fixated on my hand at agility practice. In agility, using your hand to guide your dog is an important part of training and it’s good if your dog watches your hand intently. However, in the last few months Ace has started to become obsessed with my hand while we are on the course. He mouths it, barks at me and pretty much goes crazy (the same way he used to act if I held a ball). He even leaves small bruises on my hands. I haven’t done anything to correct this yet because I’m not entirely sure what to do. But I thought I’d mention it because it seems to be another one of his obsessive behaviors. Has anyone else had this problem?