Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Dog Who Forgot How to Play

Athena is not the kind of dog that lacks play drive.  She is alllllll about play time.  We have yet to find a toy (or off-limits object) that doesn't satisfy her desire to play whether it be a ChuckIt! Ball, a stuffie, a Kong, or a piece of clothing from the dirty laundry.

Soooo, are you going to throw the ball or what?!
Because Athena's desire to play is so strong, we actually had to begin by gradually keeping toys out around the house for her to play with.  When we first brought her home from the shelter, Athena would play so hard and so wildly ALL OF THE TIME (which often escalated into bitey zoomies) that we only allowed her to have toys during designated play sessions a couple of times per day.  She has now progressed and is able to handle having a couple of toys laying around the house to play with when she feels the urge (with no more bitey zoomies- yahoo!).

Needless to say, this girl doesn't need any lessons on building play drive.  She's got it pretty covered.  That is, until we introduced her to a new toy this week.

Meet the AEROBIE Pro Ring.  A soft rubber frisbee that we picked up at REI for $10.


We specifically bought this frisbee for Athena to play with because as much as we love the ChuckIt! Ball Launcher, Athena is just a tad bit obsessed with it.  So, we wanted to find another park toy that would not only allow for some vigorous exercise, but would help to eliminate some of Athena's OCD behaviors towards her ball and launcher.  Also, we had seen a dog and handler at the park a couple of weeks ago doing super cool tricks with a frisbee, so B asked about it and we decided that we needed to be that cool too, so we bought the same one.

Athena loves ALL toys and moving objects, why wouldn't she love this super fancy frisbee?

I like to wear the frisbee as a necklace.  I do not like to play with it!
Well, we gave the frisbee a few tries and so far is have been a pretty big flop.  I swear, Athena's strong play drive went out the window and she forgot everything she knows about "fetch" when we flung the disc.  Rather than retrieving the frisbee, she does one of two things: 1) Run after the frisbee, look at it, run back to mom and dad without frisbee 2) Stare at mom and dad when they throw the frisbee, don't run after it.

One of the rare occasions when Athena actually had a go at the frisbee
To make frisbee fetch seem like the best game on earth, B and I threw the disc back and forth to each other.  If Athena happened to get the frisbee and put it in her mouth we used our most exciting voices to cheer her on.  We also laid the frisbee on the ground and put treats all over it for Athena to eat, but that didn't even keep her interest for that long.  Finally, we tried sparking a bit of drive by placing the frisbee around Athena's neck, but that only resulted in a dog wearing a frisbee necklace.


So, any ideas on how to help Athena learn how to play/retrieve the frisbee?  Maybe our choice in frisbee was poor and we need to look for a more "dog friendly" model?

27 comments:

  1. Athena is an excellent model for the frisbee necklace! You could try a frisbee that is solid in the middle?

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    1. Yes, I think our next step in frisbee fetch might need to be purchasing a frisbee that is solid. Thanks for the tip =)

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  2. 1. Most spoiled dog. EVAH!
    2. When you figure out how to make her like the frisbee, let me know. Daniel has been trying to get Turk to be a frisbee dog for YEARS to no avail! ;)

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    1. 1. You've got that right!
      2. We will let you know if we ever have success with the frisbee! I sure hope we do!

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  3. This summer "I" decided that Ray was going to be a frisbee catching dog and that he was going to like it. Heh.

    He does like it, but I started him out with a 99cent PetSmart disc and first we played catch with balls and ropes from just about a foot away from each other then when get could catch pretty well, I added the frisbee. So essentially it was catch the rope, catch the ball, catch the frisbee, catch the rope. Then we extended the distance. Ray is still not great at catching the frisbee but he's getting the idea. For us, if we don't have toys to alternate with, the game is over with just one toss.

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    1. That is a good idea. We might have to just get a cheapy frisbee for catching and then rotate between which toy she catches!

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  4. We tried the frisbee once or twice w/ Boomer but he thought of it more as something to chew up and spit out. So we eventually gave up and went back to good ol' fetch w/ the Chuck It ball

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    1. Luckily Athena hasn't thought that the frisbee is something to chew up yet! I would be made if she ruined it before we even mastered her frisbee catching technique!

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  5. That's too funny! I guess her addiction does not go that far, which is maybe a good thing. It means that she doesn't get hooked on every single toy you show her, she makes her choice!

    But to make her like it? Maybe after you throw it, start running after it and make it a competition as a "who gets there first" kind of thing. Maybe she'll get the concept, then?

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    1. You are right that it might be a good thing that Athena isn't actually as obsessed with toys as we thought she was!

      I forgot to mention it in the post, but we did throw it and then make a competition of who could get there first. She totally didn't care. =(

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  6. Ours loves the Zisc frisbee, it is made of tough rubber material and even has a guarantee that they can't destroy it! http://www.dogparkpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=87

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    1. Thank you, thank you! Checking out the Zisc right now!

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  7. Wow, I think florescent yellow is her color! Kaya loves fetch too, but I've been reading Wallace's book and now I want to try our hands at frisbee! Kaya & Norman's idea of how to play with a frisbee is to turn it into tiny plastic confetti, lol.

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    1. Ohhhh man, I would be a little ticked if Athena turned the frisbee into plastic confetti!!

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  8. Try going for a disc made for dogs. Not one of the floppy things, one you can actually throw well. For that, I recommend going with a disc used for actual disc dog sports, such as the Hero disc (I use the Taffy kind and Koira hasn't made more than a few scratches on them in the year we've had them). You can even order misprints for a great price to get them cheaper. You also might want to check out Flydo, the local disc dog club- I know they do some regular disc practices up in the Portland area.

    Koira didn't used to "get" the frisbee. I don't think she really saw it as it went through the air, and then it was frustrating to her to pick it up. I practiced doing rollers on the ground and then doing short, lofted throws where the disc sort of floats in the air. Koira learned pretty fast, and it now just as gung-ho on the discs as she is on the chuck-it (which is to say over-the-top obsessed). At least the discs tuck into my jacket easier!

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    1. Thank you SO much for all of your suggestions! We are going to look into a disc made for dogs like the Hero disc that you mentioned. We will also try doing rollers on the ground and short throws to see if that sparks Athena's interest.

      I also have never heard of Flydo, so I will have to check that out!

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  9. That's hilarious! Zoe also won't play with a frisbee (and has a high prey drive) so I will have to check out those suggestions too! (And thank you for your super sweet comment on the blog). :)

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  10. Ooo, a Frisbee pittie! Or maybe not, in this case. Don't give up! I would try taking it out when she's at her "craziest" or most energetic. Then some of the zoomies/wrestles might turn into Frisbee play? :)

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  11. I so get the "bitey zoomies". had that a lot with my pit-cross-crocodile in the early days. Haven't seen it for quite some time now - what a relief.
    This post is hilarious. :D I'd just ignore the frisbee and choose another toy.

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    1. Thank goodness we aren't the only ones who have dealt with "bitey zoomies"! We haven't seen it for quite a while either and I'm SO very glad about that because it was starting to really tire me out!

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  12. I remember the first time we tried a frisbee with Hades...oh right, there was only a first time, he hated it.
    We need to work on play drive! The only toys of choice for our dogs to engage in with us is anything they can play tug with, no fetch or anything.

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    1. Athena is totally a tug dog too, but currently we are not encouraging tug because when we do, she then decides that tug needs to happen ALL of the time with ALL of her toys! Maybe someday she will be a well rounded dog ;)

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