Tennis balls - the object of Elsa's biggest affection. You can throw anything but bring out a tennis ball and it is a whole different ball game. As a wrote a while ago, Elsa has a problem with stealing or attempting to steal other's balls. She can't help herself so I need to help her to get a grip. She needs to learn that just because another dog is chasing a tennis ball, does not mean that she can have it. Bottom line, there needs to be control where there currently is none.
I grabbed two balls and headed outside. First I started to bounce one, just one ball slowly; which was enough to get her tennis ball eyes on. I moved around the yard bouncing the ball and then told Elsa to "leave it" as I rolled it slowly down the stairs. She motioned to bolt after it like I knew that she would. I used my own body language and a firm AHHH to stop her before she took off. She looked at me with panic in her eyes. I told her that she was a good girl and retrieved the ball myself. This was the ground work for our control exercise. So right away she knew that things were different; this was not an ordinary game of throwing and retrieving.
With the two balls in hand, once again I started to bounce. Then I through one towards the wall. Before it left my hand I said "leave it," giving Elsa a heads up. When she did leave it I immediately told her okay an let the second ball fly for her across the yard. Her reward for not taking one was to chase the other. You see a treat will not work in this situation. Why? Because it is not a reward if it is not something that you want. When there is a game of chase and retrieve in the works, Elsa will choose the object of tossing over the food. Sure she'll grab food but it is not what she is after.
Using your own body - By stepping in with my body at the first sign that she is considering going after ball, it helps her to understand. We will work with this in our own backyard until she has good control. Once she has conquered that we will move to the park and then around other dogs with balls. When dogs have high drive they can become uncontrollable if you don't teach them control. Elsa has been allowed to indulge in her ball chasing; she has amazing control on her own with her own ball. But she must learn when she can and cannot grab any ball.
Any dog can learn this but you the guardian must take the time and patience to teach it. Baby steps to success.