Help with engaging pup (5 months) on walks

(9 Posts)
SpicyPear Thu 17-Jan-13 12:49:10

SpicyPup seems to have hit a terrible pre-adolescent phase and gone from best dog at puppy class to paying me absolutely no attention at all on walks when there is any kind of distraction.

We have been clicker training and it was going very well, but I'm slightly in despair again this morning after our walk. If I let him off lead he has pretty much stopped recalling. When on lead once we get to the park he will obsess at distractions, mainly other dogs, birds or water, either pulling terribly towards them or sitting down and staring at them if I try to get him to move off in another direction.

We have a visit from our trainer soon but in the meantime, I'd be really grateful for any advice on how to manage his walks better. It's a rude awakening to go from walking lovely obedient SpicyDog to crazy misbehaving SpicyPup and I really need some pointers.

Try hiding behind a bush or a tree and calling him If you do that often he will learn to keep you within sight (keep him in sight thou, I did this with my old dog and he started to head home!)

or pretend to find something on the ground that's really interesting

or just sit down, you might however get frozen to the ground at the moment!
I did this in Hatfield Forest once with my very first dog. Got some strange looks but it worked and he came rushing back to see what i was up to

If your dog is never sure what you're going to do next he will pay closer attention to you.
He is more confident knowing you are always there, a couple of surprises and making him have to find you should make him more attentive. Of course give him a lot of fuss and a treat when he does come back

I have often been seen running in the opposite direction to my dog waving my arms and shouting excitedly, they can't bear that, they have to see what I've got!

ijustwant8hours Thu 17-Jan-13 15:58:52

I tried excitedly running in the opposite direction to my early adolescent puppy the other day, he barely glanced in my direction! And I did look a proper fool!

SpicyPear Tue 22-Jan-13 11:03:55

Thanks all. We took advantage of the snow and took him to the public tennis courts as they were not being used (it's secure). He was better, only ignoring if really distracted and not just standing there weighing up whether to come back!

He did follow when I ran away but only if I did very excited shrieking blush so I wouldn't be despererate to use it.

tabulahrasa Tue 22-Jan-13 11:10:47

I'm having the same issues - I've got a squeaker from a dead toy in my pocket, that gets his attention quite well.

thegriffon Tue 22-Jan-13 12:41:16

We play games with tiny pieces of cocktail sausage, although might only work with a greedy lab. Liver cake, cheese and chicken weren't good enough to stop him from running off to play with every dog he saw but garlicky sausage really hit the spot. I buy when on offer and freeze. Cut them into tiny pieces and put in a container I can shake and he comes back immediately, even if playing with other dogs.
I sometimes make him sit and wait then hide bits of sausage and tell him to find, or throw some into a hedge so he has to really sniff it out. This morning I hid bits in snowballs and threw them, such fun grin

Paddlinglikehell Tue 22-Jan-13 12:52:49

I think you may be calling him back too much, if you constantly natter and nag at him, calling him each time he is investigating something interesting, he will learn to switch off to your voice and ignore you. Sometimes just being quiet makes you more interesting, particularly if you have liver cake in your pocket!

Go back to basics, calling him and treating him at home in the garden without distractions.

When you go out, use a higher value treat than normal, don't call him at times he is going to ignore you and you don't really need him to come. Call for success, not to fail. The only time you should be calling when he is really distracted, is when it is dangerous, or unsafe.

Accentuate the positives, so when he looks up or away from the distraction, that is the moment to call, as he is on the way back, praise him, do all the things the other posters have said, hiding is a good one and kneeling down, dogs cant resist this. If he stops as he is on the way back, stop praising, when he looks, praise again. Treat him and let him go ( good idea to take a gentle hold of his collar before you treat, or you can get a dog that will dodge away). Don't reward absolutely every time and vary your reward. Random reward is much better than a reward everytime, it keeps him keener ( think of the lottery, if you won all the time you won't bother doing it, but that odd £5 or £10, keeps you playing).

Use his food ( if it is dry), as treats, so he is hungry, vary your walks, so he doesn't get overconfident in one place. Do lots of control exercises at home, sits, downs, stays etc., so he understands you are in control ( well most of the time!). Train him to a whistle, by using the whistle each time you feed at home and then practicing at home using whistle and extra special treats.

If none of the above work and you haven't control, then you need to ask your trainer about putting him on a line and doing some work, but my bet is that it will easily improve.

SpicyPear Tue 22-Jan-13 13:23:53

I am very conscious of only calling when necessary, but I think you've somewhat hit the nail on the head paddling because I'm in a London suburb so there is a lot of danger - particularly roads, car parks and dog aggressive dogs (usually on lead). I therefore need quite high level of recall, including a chase recall, to keep him safe and am in something of a viscious cycle because it's not easy to practice safely!

For this reason we trained SpicyDog on flexi and long line for months before she could go off lead (adult rescue with no previous training) and I think we'll need to do the same here to a certain extent as he's definitely not a natural velcro dog!

Floralnomad Tue 22-Jan-13 17:02:06

My dogs recall is a bit hit and miss but he is ball obsessed so I just gather up all the balls and that generally gets his attention . He also is not good at coming to me so I just tell him 'down' from a distance and then he waits for me to go to him . Perhaps that would work better with yours ? I think mine just likes to think he is in charge or he has no idea what his name is ,not sure which.

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