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Dog Ball Possession Aggression, A New Game, and a Treadmill

24-V2-DogTread-blogDaphne, a Labrador Retriever used to be crazy about her ball to the point she turned a fun game into an exercise in aggression. Here is the story of how her dog loving owner found treadmill training as a way to create the game with a new frame of mind and how it became all fun again.

Dog Ball Game Gone Bad

At 2 years old, Daphne being a typical Lab had a lot of energy and her owner had fallen into the habit of defaulting to her never ending obsession with the ball as her primary source of exercise. The realization that the game had gotten completely out of hand came to light the day she was at a neighborhood park when a Springer Spaniel tried to join in the ball game.

“It was such a shock to see what I thought was dog play turn into an ugly fight so quickly”, Daphne’s owner stated over the phone as she sought help from a professional trainer after the dog fight turned to a person bite episode.  Daphne was chasing her ball down like she normally did when the Spaniel ran for it.  He reached the ball first and started doing circles around the ball, barking and darting back and forth in an attempt to invite a two dog ball game.

Daphne stopped short of the ball, raised up on her front paws, pointed her tail forward and started wagging it, all be it stiffly which at first glance seemed like dog play.  As it turned out these are a combination of dog actions commonly misread as play instead of a warning that possessive behavior is about to turn aggressive if pushed by another dog.

In the next few moments as the two dog owners were anticipating a play session a growl was heard and as the Spaniel snatched the ball, Daphne jumped him, and to describe it gently, it was “on” between them.  The two dog owners rushed to get their dogs apart, and a hand got in the way of the dog’s crazed aggression over the ball.  This is a typical scenario where a ball session turned into a human bite.

Is this Labrador Human Aggressive?

No.  Plain and simple this behavior gets misread in the heat of the moment as well.  Tunnel vision over protecting the ball tends to make dogs not see anything in the way of protecting their “possession”, in this case, the ball.  The hand in the way is just that, an object in the way, not an attempt to be aggressive towards people.

Never the less, this is behavior that it is imperative the dog owner change.  It requires training to create a new picture on how this dog or dog’s like Daphne view playing the game.  Adding focus in other areas of this dog’s life is important and should include other forms of exercise and adding new games for mental stimulation.

Dog Training Tips for Canine Possession Aggression

Dogs who are ball crazy also fall into the category that includes an excess amount of energy in most cases.  They like to run, they like to move and they get restless without the activity part of their life on a daily basis.

Ball crazy dogs tend to entice their owners into narrowing their exercise to playing their favorite game as their only form of exercise. ~Jt Clough, Professional Dog Trainer & Fitness Coach

24-DogTread-blogThis is the first thing to change.  Adding exercise as a training strategy should be first on the list.  It is important to add the exercise with other activities while training for ball possession aggression.  Walking is good but many times these dogs NEED to run.  That being said adding a constructive walk or implementing a running program is a good thing for any dog to spend time with their owner, in addition to other forms of exercise.

Adding games and exercise can also help.  Check out the “Spot to Spot“ exercise in the video (view at upper right corner of post).   At first glance it may seem like a simple exercise that may not make a difference, but keep in mind that these types of games or training exercises combine movement as well as engage your dog’s brain to think about staying on the ”Spot“, which creates a great ”Stay“ in the end.  Mental and physical engagement do make a difference.

Dog Treadmill Training

This is one of the single biggest factors in my professional training practice that has made a significant difference quickly with dogs who have energy and who have developed either an obsessive habit or an aggressive tendency.  Treadmill training.

At first thought some owners go to being critical of themselves and feeling like it’s the lazy way out.  In essence it is one of the biggest favors you can do a for a dog that has energy or needs to engage in a new sport.  As mentioned before, a walk is great but even those of us who are as fit as ever don’t have the energy or speed of most dogs.
Dog treadmills provide a way to get your dog up to speed, burn off the excess energy and even more importantly can fill in those gaps when you don’t have the time to get outside to play a new game or exercise with your dog.  The consistency of daily movement makes an incredible difference in changing a dog’s perspective on an issue they have developed.

Daphne’s Story Comes with a Happy Ending

As with many dogs that have done this treadmill training program, Daphne the Labrador with her development of Canine Possession Aggression ends well.  Taking the edge off of the abundant energy first, using other mind stimulating exercise, and adding the ball game back in allowed her to let go of her obsession and her need to guard that one thing she did every day so closely.

This Labrador followed the Dogtread® K9 Fitness training guide and built her time, distance and speed on the treadmill over 30 days, while practicing games that included ”Spot to Spot“ and playing with the ball, though the game changed to ”drop it“ every single time without distraction after her treadmill workouts.  After her initial 30 days, the accumulation of time spent exercising contributed to a much more zen like feeling when playing with the ball after these workouts.  Distractions and other dogs entered the picture in the training program at this point and she was off to improved behavior and the ability to see other dogs as playmates rather than a detriment to her relationship with her ball.

She’s now able to play ball which is her favorite game but allow others to play with her without being possessive.  The dog treadmill saved this dog’s favorite game, attitude and contributes to a longer well behaved lifestyle.

*Disclaimer:  When dealing with dog aggression in any form seek the help of a qualified hands on professional trainer for assistance.

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Article copyright Jt Clough & K9 Coach, Inc.© 2011  Republish with all links and author signature included.

13 responses to “Dog Ball Possession Aggression, A New Game, and a Treadmill”

  1. dogtreadpro says:

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  2. Jt Clough says:

    Dante the ball crazy Lab's story… http://ht.ly/3VFeJ

  3. dogtreadpro says:

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  4. RT @DogTreadPro: Dog Ball Possession Aggression, A New Game, and a Treadmill http://bit.ly/ia4gMy

  5. Jt Clough says:

    Is your dog a little selfish about the ball thing?…. http://ht.ly/49QdM

  6. Jt Clough says:

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  7. K9 Coach says:

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  8. K9 Coach says:

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  9. RT @gotrainyourdog: Is your dog a little selfish about the ball thing?…. http://ht.ly/49QdM

  10. RT @DogTreadPro: Dog Ball Possession Aggression, A New Game, and a Treadmill http://bit.ly/ia4gMy

  11. K9 Coach says:

    Your dog get a little pissed about another dog looking at "Teh Ball"?….. http://tinyurl.com/5r662nj

  12. Jt Clough says:

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  13. RT @DogTreadPro: Dog Ball Possession Aggression, A New Game, and a Treadmill http://t.co/8bSQs1u