For those of you who are sick of hearing about this crazy retriever and his ball, our challenge is almost over. Ace (not pictured) is far from cured of his obsession, but at least we are making progress in the right direction.
I took Ace to the dog park on Friday. I went early, hoping there wouldn’t be any other dogs there. Instead, there were three dogs and one of the labs was even playing fetch. I was worried Ace was going to steal the ball and bring it to the man doing the throwing, but he didn’t. So far, I haven’t had to explain to anyone, “Um, please don’t throw that ball for my dog. I’m trying to teach him there is a life beyond tennis balls.”
It helps when other dogs are overly friendly, because that type of dog is pretty good at getting Ace to play. There was a shepherd-looking mix that kept running over to Ace and he got Ace to follow him around a little. I wish Ace would’ve played more, but the good news is he did not become obsessed with a ball the whole time (only about 15 minutes).
The best sign of progress so far at the dog park is Ace will smell or see a ball, slowly prance over to it and then look at me instead of picking it up. It’s like he’s thinking, “Can I touch this?” Over the last month, I’ve always told him to “leave it” when he finds a ball at the dog park. I’d like to be able to play fetch with him there eventually, but at this point I want him to get used to playing without a tennis ball.
After this challenge I am thinking of buying him a new case of three tennis balls. He deserves it, and it will force me to keep working with him on this issue.