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  1. #1
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    Oct 2014
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    Too Excited around Toys!

    Having a 4 month old lab who is so obsessed with bumpers and toys that they will jump and jump and jump on you is becoming a bit of a hassle for me lately.

    She also has a habit of whining and even squealing when I work on her sit and heel when there is or isn't a toy around, she just wants it so bad. I can't even take her for a walk without her jumping on me or around me waiting for a toy that isn't even visible sometimes.

    Any advice on how to calm her down? I'd like her life to revolve around more than just retrieving.

  2. #2
    Senior Dog doubledip1's Avatar
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    May 2014
    Upstate New York
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  3. #3
    Senior Dog Snowshoe's Avatar
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    May 2014
    Ontario, Canada
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    REally, it's fabulous she is like that with toys. Toys can become your greatest reward in training. Some people spend a lot of time and energy just trying to get that kind of reaction. Go slowly and make her favourite toy a reward she gets for the briefest of SITs to start. You control the toys and through them, her. Yes, NILIF will work well with toys. Are you taking her to obedience classes? A trainer will show you how to work this to your advantage and I think a pup like yours walking through the door will gladen the heart of any trainer.

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  5. #4
    Real Retriever
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Wake Forest, NC
    Thanked: 179
    I am curious as to what her energy level is like. Is she always ready to goGoGO!!! Can she show the same drive with another toy? It sounds like she can since you described a few different things. When you are playing with a toy, is she FOCUSED on that and nothing can distract her? If so, I have a similar pup.

    Sunshine is now 3 years old and still has the energy, drive and focus she did when she was 12 weeks old, only she is 80# now. If I have something to throw she will sit, but her front legs are going up and down, she quivers and shakes, and whines. Not really a whine, but is very vocal without barking. If she barks, I throw down the item, say "No barking. End of game." and walk away. I ignore her for 60 seconds then pick the item and try again. I do not try a substitute item, I make it very clear that I do not play with dogs that bark.

    I worried about a few things when she was small. First was that I did not want her to become one of those neurotic labs that fixate on one toy. As in a ball, "THROWTHEBALLTHROWTHEBALLTHROWTHEBALL..." While jumping and barking at me. I throw the ball, it comes immediately back and we repeat. I dealt with this by breaking up off leash play time. I would throw a ball a few times, until she got too worked up about it, then I would put it down. I touch the ball and label it as tired, "The ball is tired and needs a rest." Where is your Frisbee? I label the Frisbee as tired when she starts to get too excited about it. I made a huge deal about putting the item down, then touching it while looking into her eyes and labeling it as tired.

    A good distraction from fetch is exploring. "Hey! Let's go exploring [insert location here]! We leave ALL toys behind and go run like a demented nut for a while in the woods. I would work on her left, right, Ho (stop), come... while we explore. When she starts to get bored, usually pretty quickly, I send her on "missions" to find something like a stick. Always LOTS of praise for finding any stick and bringing it back to me. Sometimes I might throw it a few times before labeling it tired and looking for another stick. Sometimes she got to carry it with her as we 'explored over this way.' My main distraction in the woods was having her find a bigger stick. I only showed her a few times and she caught right on to the fun of big sticks, they fight back! Trying to wrestle a 2" to 4" diameter stick 6' or 8' long takes a LOT of effort to get through the woods!

    She LOVED to destroy small trees! Any tree or branch under 1.5" she would gnaw through faster than a beaver!!! I let her have at it for a bit and BEFORE she got bored, I'd call her to go do something else. She also figured out that if a big stick was stuck, she could gnaw down a small tree or two to help it get out.

    Bottom line was, I kept her busy with many tasks and toys. And even at 3 months old she NEEDED 3 or 4 hours a day of this off leash activity, EVERY DAY! And this is NOT wasted time! It is all learning. She learned to listen to me and keep an eye on me in case I had something fun to do. She learned off leash commands. That has paid huge dividends now. I have 100% faith in her off leash that she will listen and follow a command, no matter what has distracted her. One drawback was the whole big stick thing. I always told her that if she could bring a stick back to me, I would throw it for her. Well, now that she is a very powerful little 80# gal, she can carry back some very large sticks! But, it is a great parlor trick for when we meet other folks with dogs at the lake. They are throwing normal dog sized sticks and I ask Sunshine to get a big stick. She TEARS off into the woods and comes back with a very large branch, carrying it, NOT dragging it, back and offering it to someone. The looks on their faces is priceless! LOL


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