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First few steps needed to help teach CATCH

December 27th, 2006, 10:07 AM
I'd like to teach Charley how to catch things in the air. I know I should start small, and set him up so he can't fail, but no matter how close to him I get (within mere inches of his nose), he'll move out of the way if something is falling towards his head instead of opening his mouth to catch what ever it is. I only use his toys, and smaller soft ones at that... I'm thinking I missed a vital step, can anyone help me out? I had thought about trying with food, but since I'd like him to catch things like Frisbees and balls, I don't want him thinking that he only has to catch stuff he wants to eat. :shrug:

December 27th, 2006, 10:27 AM
Nothing wrong with starting with food if he is successful. I would suggest marshmallows if the sugar weren't so bad for him. That way if it landed on his nose he wouldn't get hurt and prove to him that he needed to dodge it.

With Frisbees it can be good to start by rolling the Frisbee on the ground. It sounds like he is afraid its going to hit him in the face, so rolling it and letting him experience grabbing it might help.

Also take something very light (Nerf ball) that will move more slowly through the air and toss it underhand. Start further from him so he has time to put his eye on it and determine what’s going on - instead of just fleeing.

'Eye - mouth' coordination can take time to develop.

December 27th, 2006, 10:39 AM
He doesn't flee so much as duck :eek:

Rolling it might work, at least then it will be in motion.

Do I put the word on it once he's starting picking it up while its rolling? Will he make the association once I start throwing it?

December 27th, 2006, 10:46 AM
I do say "catch it" when they are supposed to catch stuff... IMO, if he can catch food, then you just say "catch it" every time and maybe throw a small, light ball in there later on and so on.:shrug:

December 27th, 2006, 10:47 AM
Oooo Beef lungs might be good for it (instead of marshmallows ;) :D). I just got some for my doggies and they're about 1 inch cubes, but very light weight.:thumbs up

December 27th, 2006, 02:56 PM
We started our dogs on using dog treats because they love them. Our GSD caught on immediately. Our other dog totally didn't get it, but finallllly caught on with the treats. He would just stand there while the cookie hit him in the face. He wouldn't even duck! lol But he is getting there. I think it just takes patience and persistance. Our GSD who wouldn't catch toys, now will. Food is definetly a good motivator for most dogs. Good luck! :thumbs up

December 27th, 2006, 03:28 PM
:D This post has made me laugh!!!! I have two dogs....Harley who is 4 yrs old and Buster who is 8 months old. Every morning, hubby feeds both dogs a bit of peanut butter and toast. Buster will sit and catch his piece of toast...Harley will close his eyes and move his head away when a small piece of toast is gently tossed to him. He actually will leave the piece of the floor and wait to be hand-fed the next piece. I guess he has it figured out by now that we will actually hand feed him and he doesn't have to work too much for it. :D

We started training Buster to catch at about 3 months old.....

December 27th, 2006, 08:11 PM
My only concern with the food is that he might think that 'catch' means he's going to get something to eat, and not the action of catching it in the air... He's so food motivated though that this will probably work so I'll try it... Failing all else, I'll come back here and we can put together plan B :p

(of course its possible I'm over analysing the whole thing in an attempt to not screw it up... I mean I have taught the dog to bark his fool head off when I say, 'Let's go say Hello'.. lol)

December 27th, 2006, 11:11 PM
I think one of the most important things though is that if you're trying a method and your dog isn't getting it in a few minutes, or at least making some progress, you have to move on to a different method before you get frustrated. Dogs learn different things different ways.:shrug:

December 28th, 2006, 04:45 PM
You don't say what breed your dog is. Some dogs don't naturally go for playing fetch/catch. I'd start by just rolling something by the pup to see if he naturally finds it amusing. Maybe it's not something your dog really likes doing?

December 28th, 2006, 04:52 PM
I hope you've had some success so far! :thumbs up
Have you tried throwing something to the side of him, instead of directly at him??

My only concern with the food is that he might think that 'catch' means he's going to get something to eat, and not the action of catching it in the air... He's so food motivated though that this will probably work so I'll try it... Failing all else, I'll come back here and we can put together plan B :p

I don't think that will happen - don't worry! I've always started with food but since its on command, it can be put it to anything:)! Maybe something small, light and really REALLY high value, like tiny pieces of cooked bacon would work (if you don't like giving hand-outs, using tiny pieces of roll over should be fine). It really depends on what motivates your dog - Dodger also loves to catch snow and since that is light, perhaps Charley would go for it too!?! I used to think that all dogs knew how to catch, until I threw a milk bone at my friend's English Springer Spaniel...NO REACTION whatsoever, he just sat there and watched it hit him in the head (I felt so bad)!! Then I realized that even with practice, he didn't get it. So I definately think that some dogs need some more help with it. I've thrown things at Dodger from puppyhood so he's used to fast moving objects coming towards him now:crazy:

Another idea is to start by placing a piece of food on his other words, take away YOU throwing it and put the responsibility on your dog (to either toss it in the air or drop his nose and watch it fall to the ground). Again not all dogs will get this either but it might help!!! :)

Another possibility is having Charley "stand up" on hind legs (doesn't have to be too high) and letting him take the food from your hand at first. After a couple of tries, release the tidbit a bit early so he is already opening his mouth to get the treat BUT you are dropping it before he feels your hand/fingers - his reflexes should take over from there.

Another idea is to not let him have the treat if he doesn't at least make an attempt to catch it (but this definately depends on your dog - with some, it could make them possessive)

The last think I think of of is getting out the clicker and click&treating when you throw things in his direction so he thinks that its a great game LOL. Then I would get more picky and only click&treat when he isn't moving away from it or is attempting to catch it etc... (so you'd be slowly shaping the final behaviour)

Good Luck!

December 29th, 2006, 10:08 AM
One day I decided I was gonna teach Odie and Maggie to catch things I toss at took a while but it worked...I put them in a sit and got a big tub of peanuts...I would give them some so they know they like them...then when they started watchingthe peanuts I would get them ready...kind of move it up as if i was gonna toss it and count 1-2-3 and then toss it up a little and if theydidn't catch it, I would step on it so they couldn't get took most of the tub (i was eating them too) but they both go it...then I just kept it they try to catch anything flying their way...they catch balls, their frisbee, fluffy it...if you toss it at them they try to catch...unless my 3 year old nephew tosses stuf at them...they they run away (hot wheels and such kinda hurt when they hit you:P)

December 29th, 2006, 12:41 PM
I always start with food and then move to toys and balls.
Place dog in a sit in front of you. I usually start with pieces of biscuits and once they have caught on to catching moving objects I move to other things.
Bend over and make the movement of throwing slow. Toss the treat kind of high like soft ball. The first dozen or so times he will miss and it will probably hit him in the face but keep trying until he tries to catch it. Part of learning is watching the moving objects in order to catch them. Once he catches a few he will get the idea of catching objects very quickly and you will be able to speed things up and move to other objects.

December 29th, 2006, 03:52 PM
So we started with kibbles and have had great success. (lucky for me he really likes his kibbles!) I went the clicker route, as he is already familiar with it. I started with him sitting in front of me, with the kibbles falling from directly above him, and at first he got clicks for not moving out of the way, then he got clicks for keeping his eyes on it, then he got clicks for trying to catch it. Only a few short sessions later, he's only getting clicks for actually catching it. (so yes, he's getting the piece of kibble, plus a bit of liver for the click.)

I've bought a couple of tennis ball so we can try rolling them, to work up to larger items flying at his face, but I'm going to wait until he's better with the kibble (we have a 50% success rate at the moment, and I haven't put the command on it yet)

For those of you who are curious, Charley is a mix between a shih tzu and a Pomeranian, and has little to no prey drive. He does however like to learn new things, and he likes doing things well (which I think is why the clicker works so well for him). He only plays fetch because he likes to play tug, which I'm hoping I can turn into a reward once we've moved up to a Frisbee.

December 29th, 2006, 06:08 PM
Rolling the frisbee is sometimes needed for a dog to learn to catch it because it is a difficult shape for them to grab. Rolling it on its side helps to teach the dog that they are to grab them on their side but you shouldn't have to do it with a ball. After he is catching the food without any trouble move to a small soft toy before moving onto the balls. Start to put a little distance with your toss as he gets better at it. Once he is catching everything you throw at him move on to the frisbee, ideally the soft kind.

December 30th, 2006, 02:15 PM
You know, teaching a dog to catch might be easier of the human part of the team could throw! :p

I've been saving scraps of material, so I'm going to see about making a ball or two that is small enough for him to catch... All the nurf stuff was bigger than his head :eek:

He's doing well with the kibbles falling from the sky, but I don't hink he gets the rolling the toy on the ground yet, he just waits for it to get to him... :shrug:

December 31st, 2006, 09:59 AM
Roll it past him so he wants to chase it - then he should start to get the idea that this is a game. After he shows some interest and success then roll it shorter distances and more towards him.

Remember not everyone is meant to play the same games - trust me, no one can make me like football.

December 31st, 2006, 04:59 PM
I found some really 'spongy' christmas tennis balls to try, they are big enough to have momentum enough to roll a good distance, but small and spongy enough that he can pick them up.

I also bought him a new bear, one we're only going ot use for 'catch' until he gets the hang of it anyway.

I don't hate throwing a ball, I just suck at it ;)

January 7th, 2007, 07:04 PM
I think charlie learned how to catch out of necessity. If he catches it in midair (treats or chicken) daisy or Felicity can't get it first.:D