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A neighbourhood dog that's gotten friendly comes over to visit us occasionally. He really loves playing fetch, and gets really excited if he sees me playing with a tennis ball. There's only one problem - he refuses to drop the ball, and won't release it even when I try to pull it from his mouth. He'll bring it to me, sit when I tell him to, but won't let go no matter what I say. He's an intelligent dog but doesn't seem to understand what I want him to do here. The only way I've found to get him to give up the ball is to throw a 2nd ball for him!

Any suggestions?

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    Throwing a second ball is one way to train them how to drop it. – jeremy Aug 7 '14 at 15:20
  • Sure, but he's not necessarily going to drop it at my feet. Often he runs after the 2nd ball, and then drops the 1st one. More running for me to do! – TrojanName Aug 7 '14 at 15:39
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    One thing someone told me is that her dog used to love chasing a frisbee, but would never bring it back. To get her to bring it back, she would throw the frisbee once, then if the frisbee didn't come back and land at her feet (via the dog), she'd go inside. She did that for 6 weeks every day until the dog finally brought the frisbee back. If you choose this method, it's important to never throw the ball if the dog doesn't bring it to you after your first throw, – jeremy Aug 7 '14 at 20:28
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First you train the dog to come when called (there are many resources on the web that can teach you how to do that). Train that to the point where the dog will come very reliably. Next I would go with the "2nd ball" approach mentioned above. If the dog doesn't bring the ball to you, then call him to come and immediately throw the second ball when s/he comes to you. The dog will likely drop the ball right away as soon as you throw the ball. Once that is established the dog will likely start dropping the first ball at your feet in anticipation of the second ball being thrown. If not, then delay throwing the second ball until the first is dropped.

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Have you tried treats? When he brings the ball back, just sit there and hold a treat out until he drops it. Then as soon as he does, pass him the treat and pick the ball up. He'll soon suss it out.

And if you don't want to feed someone else's dog, just apply the same principle with the other ball. Hold it out as if to throw it, but don't do anything until he drops it. It may take 5 minutes, but after 2 or 3 goes where he gets it, it'll start to get easier as he actually understands that to get the other ball he must drop that one.

If you end up standing there for 20 min and he still hasn't dropped the ball, no biggie, it's game over. Try again next time. Like any game, if the rules are one sided, it's no fun. Except here, it's just harder to explain the rules to the other player :)

Should he wander off in boredom, just entice him with the ball if you're still up for playing. It's a matter of persistence I guess, like most things in dog training.

And to add a bit more, the very first time he drops it, make a MASSIVE fuss, make the game super exciting and the best throw ever. Make sure to associate a word with it from the start too, as soon as he drops it clearly say DROP, or something, but remember to make sure it's AS he drops it, not before. For now.

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I tried for YEARS to get my GSP to drop the ball-I shouted, tempted, left him, watched every clip out there, got a professional etc etc. One day our son realised if you squeeze the rubber chicken (or I imagine any squeaky toy) he drops it straight away!! Who would have thought of that!! genius and no more anguish!

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