Our walks are always ball throwing walks as far as Sym is concerned.
I throw, Sym chases, catches then brings it back.
I have determined that four commands come into play whilst playing ball.
"Fetch it" - when he drops it out of reach off the path.
"Where is it?" - to get his attentions when he drops it somewhere out of sight.
"Find it" - when he drops it in the long grass or in a big puddle
"Gimme dat" - when he doesn't drop his ball when it's time to go home
When I actually throw, or make to throw, the ball I don't say anything. It would be a waste of time and effort because Sym would already be arcing his way to the point where he would like to receive it, whereupon he will go down on the ground in that typical "I'm ready! Go for it!" collie pose.
When the ball is thrown, and sometimes even before, he begins the chase. He has an amazing ability to calculate the balls flight path and be there waiting for it to bounce. He also has the ability to look incredibly smug whilst chomping on his now captured prize!
The average round of 'throw & fetch' goes like this ...
Sym races into position. I throw the ball. Sym runs, jumps and catches. He starts to bring it to me ... but catches a scent and dashes off into the long grass only to emerge minutes later minus his ball.
Sym then runs into position, oblivious to the fact that he left his ball in the long grass.
In order to let him know that I can't find the ball, I shout "Where is it?" which grabs his attention and gets him running back to where he last saw it.
At this point he will look at me with his "You're kidding, right?" expression in the hope that he doesn't have to search for it.
Now this is the really good part - which I have mentioned before - where Sym uses his nose to find out where he left the ball.
"Find it!" I cry and off he goes, nose to the ground, looking for it.
When he locates it - and he nearly always does - he switches into smug mode again and trots off along the path, casually dropping the ball somewhere along my line of march so that I can throw it again.
On those rare occasions when he drops the ball a little too far from the track, or I just can't be bothered to walk those extra few steps, I say "Fetch it!" and he jogs back down the track, picks it up and drops it a little closer to me.
Sometimes - the times when he doesn't want to go home - the "Gimme dat!" order is unpacked and aimed right at him! He knows when this command is used it means ...
- it's definitely time to go home and
- double cheese reward for compliance
I always put him back on his leash at this point and drape it over his back, letting him walk to heel for the last two hundred metres or so back to the car.
He really is a good boy at heart.
Did I ever mention that I'm proud of my pup?