Dude learning to have a ball

Now that Doodlebug’s leash has been cut loose and he’s allowed to run and play, we just have to teach him. Apparently, playing doesn’t quite come naturally to him, but he’s starting to get the hang of it.

What he likes most is tennis balls (especially the Kong squeaky ones), so we started there. Whenever we sense that he’s feeling a little energetic (which is not too often), we go and grab the ball, get him excited about it, and toss it a short distance or just offer it to him. If he puts it in his mouth, we praise, praise, praise and pet him until he drops it. The second it falls out of his mouth, we stand up and walk away, taking the toy with us. A couple of minutes later, we do it again. If he takes the ball, he gets lots of praise and petting. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t. It’s been slow going, but we are noticing some little changes — he will now hold the ball in his mouth for a full 30 seconds or so on occasion, and often brings it back over to us after retrieving it (instead of running off to his own corner to chew on it). Far from perfect, but he obviously is starting to understand the fun that a ball can be!

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21 responses

  1. Beautiful photos. I had a German Shepherd who was the same, I took her on when she was six months old and it took her ages to just hold a ball, she would run after a toy but never pick it up. She eventually fell in love with a squeaky Kong Pinball thing. I love getting posts from you the photos make me smile no matter how my day is. Cheers

  2. The Dude seems to enjoy seeing life upside down. And I love his wardrobe. The purple really brings out his eyes. Precious pup!

  3. Since he doesn’t seem to like to “play” with things in his mouth, have you considered agility? Running over, under, around and through things? (Remember that old cigarette commercial? No, you wouldn’t, you’re too young!) Of course, he’d have to get up off his back. ;-)

  4. Love the pictures (and the shirt)! My Fox Terrier was the same way when we got him. Poor guy had no idea how to play and we had to teach him what fun was…Tennis balls were never his thing, but hedgehog toy? Oh, that was his favorite. That squeaky sound drove him wild. He ended up ripping the toy apart to get to the squeaker and that was the end of hedgehog toy! Glad that Dude is learning to enjoy his play time at last now that he’s all healthy!
    – Anastasia, Disney, and Bella

  5. You take the best pictures and your dogs are great posers! I cannot tell how much I have fallen in love with your pitts, and I have been a huge pittbull fraidy cat all my life. Looking into the eyes of your dogs, I see my soul. So I understand now how they get a bad rap. I even pet the Rott next door now! My dogs have always been collies and retrievers, and now I have a kitten. But I see the good in ALL animals, and cannot stand cruelty, and I love you so much for rescuing the Dude, and see the love in his eyes as he knows you are his forever home. Bless you.

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