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Shiba Mouth/Eye Coordination
  • I was just curious about how everyone Shiba's are with catching stuff with their mouths. My 15 month old shiba, Hansel, has terrible "Mouth/Eye" coordination (for lack of a better term). It happens when I'm just casually tossing him a treat, or when I'm tossing him a tennis ball, he just cant focus on the item I'm giving him and he just sort of ducks out of the way and closes his eyes and then pounces on the treat/ball. He is however EXTREMELY playful and loves to chase and toss around his toys. I was just curious if anyone had any suggestions that might help my little buddy out or is he just doomed to be a mediocre treat/ball catcher?
  • spacedogsspacedogs
    Posts: 361
    Well there's no motivation to succeed in your chosen task if you're just tossing the reward at him willy nilly here. :D

    Rule of thumb when training a pet - reward the behavior you want and set your dog up for success as much as possible. If you want to teach Hansel to catch use a two tiered reward system. The first tier is the treat you're tossing to teach him to catch, this should be something he likes but not something he really LOVES - say "catch" then toss it very near to his mouth so it's easy for him to catch. If, and only if, he catches it reward him with "yes!" and a MUCH better treat, this should be something he really really loves. Once he's consistently catching the less desirable treat you can eliminate it, switch to tossing the reward treat only as he's now learned the behavior.

    Catching a ball is the same premise - the ball isn't rewarding so much as his favorite treat. Start by throwing the ball near his mouth, say "catch", and reward with a highly prized treat only when he's successful.

    If there's motivation (tasty things) he'll be more driven to learn the trick than if you're just tossing things at him with high hopes he'll do what you want. I'd recommend practicing before meal times, he'll be less motivated to earn food if he's just had a meal.

    Good luck!
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8584
    In addition to the above, you may also want to try a "swinging countdown" when tossing treats/toys. Using an underhanded tossing motion, without actually tossing the item, count down "3-2-1-catch", releasing on "catch". Do it slowly, so that Hansel can predict the trajectory of the treat. And when you toss the treat, toss it slowly, and in a parabolic track. Watch him, and you will probably notice that his head will follow your hand when you are "fake" tossing and then be more likely to track the treat and catch it.

    Using the "swinging countdown" method got both of my girls catching treats. Neither are that crazy about balls, but they will catch their stuffed toys when I toss them as well.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
    Posts: 412
    wow this is super helpful! I thought Ponyo was just uncoordinated. I'll try these tips, thanks!
  • ehu_guyehu_guy
    Posts: 23
    Wow, I second that this is super helpful! I also thought Ehu was doomed for catching anything in his mouth. I tried the method of holding a treat and making a slow-motion arch towards his face while saying "catch". That obviously didn't work as I wasn't actually tossing anything. Can't wait to get home to start trying this!
  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 1269
    I actually started following these tips when I first read this thread and they've been working great! Ozzy's pretty good at catching stuff now. We don't practice much though since he's still young and I don't want to entice him to do a bunch of jumping just yet.

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