That's it, done; no more ball. Elsa's game was abruptly ended when she made the choice to run off to see a little dog. I was using this particular dog as a training aid; we'd met them before and the woman was very nice as was her little dog. Elsa is amazing at keeping her eye on the ball so to speak. Dogs can come and go without her veering from her job of retrieving. But this dog was coming close, very close and stopping to watch so I seized the moment. She ignored the small dog for a while as I cheered her on and tossed the ball with even more intensity. But then a small thread came loose causing the whole thing to unravel. Not only had Elsa gone to see the small dog, but Luke as well.
By the time I caught up with them I said "that's it." Elsa looked at me as I put the Chuckit back in it's resting place with the ball as well. She forgot about the little dog and ran off to do more catching. "Nope, that's it" I said again as her body posture fell. The little impromptu meet and greet ended the game and it is essential that it was ended. Elsa loves nothing more than retrieving and running so each time she retrieves the ball and drops it at my feet she is once again rewarded by it being thrown. It is important that the ball be sent out at the precise speed as the retrieve and placement.
When Elsa brings the ball in fast but drops it several feet from me, I will meander over and get it albeit in my own sweet time. If she runs at tops speed and drops it at my feet I will scoop and toss that baby as fast as I can. This action alone helps her to "stay in the game" and bring it home correctly. She's a fast girl, crazy intelligent and on the ball. So ending the game when she veered off is very important. I rely on her ball commitment to ensure that she gets her retrieving in daily. We can play where others cannot due to her dedicated commitment. If I cannot rely on that steadfast commitment; then there will be less ball throwing.
But dogs being dogs; there is no true guarantee. All I have is her commitment and my common sense; so there is no throwing in even the slightest area where there may be hint of a danger. My concern is that she not go off and bother people. She must commit to the ball if we are going to play ball; we play ball. This is not a flippant game for us; it is serious business or not at all. Even if she stops midway to sniff something; I will react. My typical reaction for this is to head right for her. She knows that if I pick up the ball then it will mean a break in the game. If I make it to the ball and pick it up, I walk very slowly back to the throw spot. Then I take my time, I ask for some obedience type behaviors and then we try again. Stopping and smelling the roses is a rare occurrence now.
It is all or nothing, we seize the moment. When we have a clear spot we grab it for some ball time. I'm a big fan of stopping and smelling the roses but that comes after our very important ball time. If there is a behavior break in the game, then "that's it," done and once that Chuck it is put away it doesn't come out again for a while.