Dogs simply adore playing the “fetch” game, and it’s safe to assume that your pet wants you to comply 24-7, every day of the week. They let us “slide” from time to time, but the fact remains that their hunger for games and entertainment is insatiable – this is the reason why weary pet owners look for alternatives.
The best one we could come up with is the “Ball Launcher” – a special, yet quite simple and straightforward device that does precisely what its name implies.
It literally launches balls at different angles and speeds. Some models are capable of shooting multiple balls simultaneously, which is a perfect solution for pet owners who have more than one dog.
Where should you start?
First of all, you’ll need to properly understand the machine before you could share the “knowledge” with your dog. All Ball Launchers are designed to be simple, and operate in a similar, easy-to-use fashion. Note that these contraptions are intended for outside use, so as to avoid the risk of property damage or even harm.
After you’ve grasped the basic mechanisms of your launcher, give it a go and observe the reactions of your dog. Needless to say, most dogs will blindly rush to catch the ball without paying too much regard to who’s thrown (or launched) it.
The test run should prove successful enough to get your dog’s attention, and that’s precisely where the fun starts.
Things you should know before you begin your dog’s training
First of all, every ball launching machine makes a certain dose of noise. In fact, this “noise” serves as a “call to action”, urging your dog to take initiative and educating it that it should be independent in this sphere.
Secondly, we’re all aware of the “puppy eyes”, and we encourage you to remain strong, even if your dog literally begs you to do all the work. Actually, the prime reason why you got the launcher is to rid yourself of the hassle of playing with your dog all day long.
Last, but not least, rest assured that every type, race, or breed of a dog is capable of understanding how this machine works. It might take a while, but it’s achievable.
Two best ways to teach your ball how to use a Ball Launcher
Essentially, dogs are pretty smart animals, although their ability to understand certain things depends mostly on their race or breed. If you’re uncertain in any way regarding your dog’s capabilities, we’ll use an average dog as an example.
Most professional “dog whisperers” advise that dogs learn best when taught by the “reward & punishment” methods, but it’s more appropriate to use treats when your dog reacts positively and the “cold shoulder” when it responds negatively. Let’s review the two most popular methods by which your dog will undoubtedly learn how to operate a ball launcher:
The idea of the “encouragement” method is to assure your dog that “he’s a good boy (or girl)” every time the progress is made. You should use treats as positive reinforcement, and any sort of clicker to urge your dog to make a move.
First of all, play some fetch with your dog as a “warm-up”, all the while standing right next to it while it’s turned off. Load the launcher with a ball and wait for your dog to react. After a while (if not instantly), your dog should come straight to the launcher, and if it does, give him a treat.
Secondly, turn the ball launcher, but don’t operate it – instead, wait for the warning signal. Once it’s been rung, encourage your dog to come to you while retaining a positive attitude (smile, yell “yes”, or “good boy”).
Thirdly, load the ball and call your dog. Slowly and cleverly lead him (or her) to the launching button. Repeat the entire process several times, and your dog should be able to operate the machine alone.
If the “encouragement” didn’t yield sufficient results, you should try associating key points in ball launcher’s operation so that your dog could understand the machine, rather than blindly stick to what you dubbed as “right”. This method is better for dogs which have a somewhat questionable grasp on authority.
Again, start by playing fetch while the launcher is off, but stand right next to it. At some point, use the ball to load the launcher instead of fetching it back, but don’t launch it. Pull it out, and throw it to your dog.
Link certain fetching commands you usually give out while fetching to the different steps of the machine’s operation – for instance, once you’ve loaded the machine, give a command with which you begin the fetch game, or give commands like “go fetch” at the exact same moment the machine launches the ball.
It’s imperative that you call your dog right to the machine after trying out this method. Hover above the “launch” button (or lever) for a few minutes with appropriate commands in the background. Repeat the process.
Teaching your dog to fetch back a ball is fairly easy. Essentially, teaching it to play with a ball launcher on its own is quite simple as well, but you’ll have to be really patient in certain cases. Just remember that not all dogs learn at the same rate, but they all do.
Try out the methods we’ve provided, and, in case your dog is stubborn enough to refuse to learn, switch “treats” with a “cold shoulder”. Ignoring your dog will make him (or her) feel as if something bad has been done, and, in the end – the game will have ended if the wrongs haven’t been made right. Either way, stay patient and persistent, and your dog will come around.