After being told "that's it."
I'm up early with the time change but Elsa is not. She is extremely tired, having had a huge run with her Dad yesterday, tons of ball tosses and then baby watch. She adores her new babies (my Grandsons) and is constantly aware of the their location and doings. But today's blog is about obsessions and for Elsa that is retrieving. Dogs can have any type of obsession and obsessions should be addressed.
Of course there are different levels of obsessions as well as different types. Tilley also had a retrieving obsession which was far worse than Elsa's. Tilley's was so bad that when nothing was being tossed for her she turned to shadow chasing. She learned quite early that were a reliable source for her to unleash her desires. But it also became dangerous as it grew out of control. Once I realized what was going on, I was on it. I very quickly taught her that she was not allow to indulge in her obsession anywhere other than her own backyard. Allowing her to get into her "zone" was dangerous as she saw or heard nothing around her once she was in it.
So let's talk about lasers for a second. You know those laser pens that were all the rage years ago. Well, they sadly have become the undoing for many dogs. They can trigger a chase obsession so bad that it can be difficult to come back from. Instead of an actual item that they chase; it is a light glimmer. I have seen the damage first hand that laser triggers can do. Any glimmer of light becomes an object to chase and it can become a blind chase; meaning they will chase it with no regard to surrounding environment. Extremely dangerous, so leave the lasers in the past where they belong. If you've already instilled this obsession then you have work to do, undoing it.
Controlling an obsession and making it a manageable passion is a must. Elsa has a very nice "off" switch. She was taught right from the get go that "that's it" meant that the game was over. She will be in full retrieve mode but when we say "that's it" she picks up her ball and stops immediately. When we are out doing her chuck it; she clearly understands that when the thrower is placed in my belt, that's it. She is always rewarded for handing over the ball at the end of the game and it is never a negative that way.
Any behavior can become an obsessive one; but once it's out of control it can then become dangerous. Even a very high drive dog like Elsa who is allowed to indulge in her trigger can learn to keep it at a passionate but controlled level. This takes time, training and understanding that obsession must be controlled.