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Beau is just over a year and from the first day we got him, he has barked and lunged at anything over the size of a tennis ball. We keep exercise balls, big and small, hidden, but when we bring them out, he starts.
Any ideas on how to calm him and help him feel more comfortable around them would be most welcome馃檹
 

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From ShamaPapa:

Is it a playful lunge or an attack/fear lunge? Her Eminence would lunge at large things as a puppy, but it was always to play with it. We had a large ball that she would jump onto, it would roll to one side causing her to fall off and then she would jump on it again. The entire time she would growl and bite at the ball like a toy. She loved that game when she was little.

But if it is a fearful reaction, you can try to train it out of him by showing him that the object is okay. He will follow the pack leader's lead.

When Her Majesty is not happy about something new in her environment, I try to show her that Papa thinks it is just fine so she shouldn't worry. I will get down on the floor with her and slowly approach the new item. I sometimes pretend to sniff at it. I will slowly paw at it with my hands. I will drag it back and forth. I talk only to keep her attention but make no other noises that she might think are directed at the object. I do not move quickly. This continues until Her Royal Highness comes over and starts sniffing, pawing and showing interest. Then, when it is clear that she is relaxed, I will move away slowly like I lost interest in the object. She will sometimes continue engaging (sniffing, pawing, etc.) the object and sometimes not. However, she rarely has issues with that object again when it shows up. It is usually five minutes or less of a training commitment to the new object. I have never even used treats as I think she will follow and interpret the alpha male's behavior in these situations.

I've done this with her for a lot of different items and it has always seems to work well. So maybe it will work with Beau?
 

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Perry is afraid of a lot of things. Often what I'll do is sit on the floor next to the thing - making sure, if it's something that can move that I keep it very still - (depending on the level of fear, it might start a little further away), and then I'll throw him treats - throwing them away from the thing, then maybe throwing it in teh general direction but not near it... and then doing that until he moves closer to it... until we can get to a point that I can "hide" a treat next to it or even under it. We did this with the very scary pillows on the couch :)

Sometimes I will hold the item and give him treats for sitting next to me while I play with or move the item around.

The main thing NOT to do is to force him to approach something (though I will sometimes pick him up and approach things... but I don't make him touch it or push him towards it - this is harder to explain) - let him decide to do it.
 

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Yes! I like Melissa鈥檚 approach. I would put the 鈥渙ffending thing鈥 in a corner and just 鈥渓ive with it鈥. Don鈥檛 move it. Ignore it And ignore his response to it. Do what Melissa said in terms of throwing cookies AWAY from it and letting him reapproach at his own speed. I would NOT carry him toward it unless you need to carry him oast it to get somewhere else in the house with him. Then I would just be totally neutral about 鈥渢he thing鈥. Don鈥檛 look at it, and walk past it as if it鈥檚 not there. Say nothing. He WILL eventually acclimate to it as if it鈥檚 a piece of furniture.

Then put it some place else. STILL NO MOVEMENT. When he shows no fear of that ball no matter where in the house it shows up, you can EITHER start moving the ball GENTLY without even looking at him, and gauge his reaction out of the corner of your eye, OR start the whole process with a different ball.

It may take several different balls before he starts to generalize that 鈥渂alls are not evil鈥, and then that 鈥渕oving balls are not evil鈥. But if you go slowly enough, he will.
 

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Sundance was scared of balls as a puppy. Tennis balls are scary. My 17 year old is afraid of them, lol. We played with soft, squishy balls and different unique shaped balls, like mesh/hollow balls for toddlers and preschoolers, and he eventually got over it. I let him come to it and started out soft, rolling gently and throwing softly for him to chase after, not bouncing it directly towards him, so he could choose to approach. I also did the muffin tin game almost every day his first winter, with a treat broken up into the muffin cups and all different shapes of balls hiding the treats (dryer ball, soft ball, etc), and he had to pick up the balls to get the treat.

He still avoids big exercise balls, but honestly, from his perspective this is kind of logical. They鈥檙e bigger than him and block his view of the rest of the room, they move and bounce unpredictably, they鈥檙e too big for him to control. He doesn鈥檛 bark at them, so it鈥檚 not something I鈥檝e felt the need to work through. I鈥檓 mean and I make my kids put them away in the garage, except for one that can be left on a chair-stand thing in the loft so it doesn鈥檛 roll unexpectedly.
 

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Now that I think about it, sometimes when DD uses the large exercise ball Sundance seems concerned. He will approach her sort sideways in a worried way, and talk to her, like he is warning her to stay away. I don鈥檛 think she does this as an intentional training exercise, but she usually ignores him and he stops after a few minutes, as long as the ball doesn鈥檛 come towards him. He always waits patiently and expects playtime immediately after she does any kind of floor exercises, regardless of whether she uses the ball.
 

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Our Maisie loves to 鈥減lay soccer鈥 with a playground size ball. Our grandson got her started and now she chases it all around our house. Maybe play with a child would encourage your dog to play with the ball.
 

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Sundance was scared of balls as a puppy. Tennis balls are scary. My 17 year old is afraid of them, lol. We played with soft, squishy balls and different unique shaped balls, like mesh/hollow balls for toddlers and preschoolers, and he eventually got over it. I let him come to it and started out soft, rolling gently and throwing softly for him to chase after, not bouncing it directly towards him, so he could choose to approach. I also did the muffin tin game almost every day his first winter, with a treat broken up into the muffin cups and all different shapes of balls hiding the treats (dryer ball, soft ball, etc), and he had to pick up the balls to get the treat.
Perry loves loves loves his tennis ball(s). The funny thing is that I can practically throw his ball straight at him and he'll catch it (I throw the tennis ball lightly but I'll throw his hedgehogs which are ball shaped but soft fast and straight at him), but if I throw him food he'll jump out of the way so that it can hit the floor and he can then get the treat :)
 
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