Which trick do you mean? Are you talking about the standard pick up a ball and drop it through a hoop or are you wanting an airbud style bouncing ball off his nose into a basket?
I've never taught the first version. It seems like a pick up and drop trick, perhaps you could adapt the methods for training put away toys?
With the second trick I taught my dog to bounce a ball off his nose - easy for a soccer obsessive dog - just throw him a ball that is too big to hold and reward highly for a nose pass rather than a paw save, then reward only for passes that you can catch, now you have a dog that can target the ball. Then I was fortunate because my dog figured out instantly that if I touch or point at an object that is his target. I don't really know how he worked it out but I started with a big target (a washing basket) just beside me so that if I didn't catch the ball it'd fall in and then I rewarded highly for a "basket" (LOL his FACE when the ball fell in the basket, it was like "Hey did you SEE that!"). Now after a lot of small increments I am using a bucket slightly above his head height and gradually moving it higher. Keep sessions short, 2-3 successes are enough, this is pretty tiring for a dog. Use mega rewards, Zac gets up to 5 minutes playing soccer or a similar length of time petting for every successful basket, he won't work for food with this trick but if he did it'd be whole sausages .
Thanks for the tips. I think a large basket is a great idea. My little "stub" of a dog does not have long legs or a great ability for jumping. He can do agility jumps just fine but it is not his forte. He loves soccer and I will try bouncing the ball off of his little nose and see how that works. Never tried that. He does know "touch". The biggest problem I have with him is that he watches my hands and if I move them a certain way he starts doing most of the tricks with hand signals that he has learned. I am working with him right now just to come touch two fingers just to get him used to my hands being stationary and that they don't always mean for him to perform. I am going to go get a basket tomorrow and I will let you know how that works for him. Thanks
I think that ideally a dog uses his partially open jaws to bounce the ball, like he tried to catch but the ball is too big to go in his mouth? If he doesn't get the idea straight away perhaps throw him a ball he can catch then a ball he can't - so he is in catch mode? I use a slightly deflated soccer ball but with your little Hunter maybe you could find something softer and much lighter - something as hard and heavy as a tennis ball might hurt his nose/jaws. I'd love to know how you get on as I've never seen anyone else teach this trick.
Zac is very focussed on my hand and body signals too. I am trying to teach myself to keep still while giving commands, Zac is very good at learning signals that I didn't mean to teach - like a that step towards him when he is sitting means "sit pretty" I know I need more training than the dog!