Dogs that stop dead on a walk, to engineer a recall

(19 Posts)
ButThereAgain Mon 14-Oct-13 15:46:21

I practice my dog’s recall on walks by occasionally giving the ‘wait’ command and walking away a hundred yards or so before calling him. He loves this, comes well, and is rewarded with a toy that he adores.

But he loves the recall so much that about once each walk he will stop when I haven't told him to, let me walk into the distance, and wait patiently for me to recall him.

This is kind of a nuisance. Not a massive nuisance but I’d like to discourage it. Trouble is, if I call him in these situations and give a toy/treat I am rewarding the unauthorised ‘wait’, but if I call him and don’t reward I risk eroding his responsiveness to recall.

I worry that once he has gone into ‘wait’ mode, he forgets he has decided for himself to do this, without a command from me, and therefore that he feels confused by any lack of reward.

I’ve tried
(1) Ignoring him and waiting for him to come himself – this is kind of ok, but he does get to be a speck in the distance before he gives up.
(2) Using a low-key recall in these situations (just voice not whistle) and giving just a low-key reward, saving the jackpot rewards for when I have actually told him to wait.
(3) Varying the points at which I practice recall, so that he doesn’t particularly associate one spot with waiting.

Those all help a bit but I suspect the first two tend to diminish his enjoyment of recall, and none of them have stopped him engineering his own recalls in this way.

I need his recall to be brilliant because he is not good with other dogs. How can I continue to make recall a source of utter joy to him but at the same time prevent him from deciding for himself that it is time to play the lovely recall game?

Sorry for length of post.

Any hints?

tabulahrasa Mon 14-Oct-13 17:38:09

I'd do something else when he stops by himself, run off into a bush to hide and get him to find you, start playing fetch by yourself...something that will get him to come to you without actually turning it into a recall.

ButThereAgain Mon 14-Oct-13 18:18:57

Thanks. That sounds sensible. I'd tried hiding, but hadn't been imaginative enough to think that I could do other things. Dogs embarrass their owners in so many ways that I might as well go the whole hog and play fetch on my own, etc.

Imsosorryalan Mon 14-Oct-13 20:15:56

Would just add though, ours did this, randomly stopped mid walk. However, I didn't treat when she came after calling. She still did it. So yes, I decided to hide behind a bush. She saw me hide there. I waited for a few minutes..nothing..I went back up the path and she had disappeared!!blush
The only time in her life she has gone missing. Anyway, after panicking and retracing my steps I found her heading home 20 minutes later! So just be warned about the hiding thing. Make sure you can still see her when hiding!
Now I stand next to her when she's sniffing and carry on walking when she's done. If she starts randomly stopping I just put her on lead. Much safer!

ButThereAgain Mon 14-Oct-13 20:16:56

Any more thoughts?

Does any doggy expert know whether a smart dog can hold it in his brain that he hadn't actually been told to wait? i.e. hold it in his brain long enough to understand that a reduced reward was the consequence of his having engineered a recall that his owner hadn't initiated?

ButThereAgain Mon 14-Oct-13 20:18:26

Oh whoops cross-post. Thanks That is a good warning. I'm wary of getting too far from my dog because of his Being A Bastard To Other Dogs Syndrome, so I wouldn't want to risk him going off like that.

ButThereAgain Mon 14-Oct-13 20:20:36

That might be a good thing to do, really -- just walk quietly back to him and put him on lead. Glad yours got back to you safely.

Well, you haven't actually taught him the recall you needed to. You've taught him to sit and wait in the middle of a walk and his reward for that is the crazy recall run and a huge treat. He is focussing on the sit and wait which he thinks is the key to the reward - and of course you're reinforcing that every time with a treat. While you're doing that he's never going to work out it's not what you actually wanted.

What breed is he? And is his recall still troublesome?

tabulahrasa Mon 14-Oct-13 21:02:06

See I play hide and seek, I suddenly run behind a bush and tell him to find me...I more meant that than actually leaving, lol.

ButThereAgain Mon 14-Oct-13 21:23:51

He's a PRT. Most of the recall practise I do doesn,t involve a 'wait' first -- I just call him in the middle of whatever he's doing. I don't do the 'wait' thing all that often these days.

His recall is good, but it seems like something always to 'revise'. Perhaps I should just stop doing the wait-and-recall completely.

PinkFairyArmadillo Mon 14-Oct-13 21:26:54

I'd do away with getting him to wait then calling him and instead just randomly call him back every so often at varying points during the walk.

As well as hiding you could try getting down on the ground. That's guaranteed to bring all ours running as apparently rolling around on the floor with one of us is the most fun thing ever grin

We also randomly reward ours for 'checking in' with us whilst they're off lead. It works really well for encouraging them to keep an eye on us rather than completely ignoring us until we call them.

ButThereAgain Mon 14-Oct-13 21:36:29

I often mime picking up a stick and throwing it.grin I'll add rolling on the ground too!

Yes, I'll stop doing the 'wait.' Its a bit of a shame because he likes all these things. We do quite a few different bits of obedience out and about. I'll think of a new thing to do instead. It's all to make sure his attention is at least partly on me all the time, plus for funfun.

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Mon 14-Oct-13 21:53:09

Do you reward him for walking to heel? Do you tell him 'heel' whilst you're walking nicely along and reward him for that? So perhaps when he stops you could just tell him to walk to heel and he'll carry on walking with you? It does sound like you've accidently taught him to sit and wait and then come and be rewarded, rather than to return to you whenever you need him to.

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Mon 14-Oct-13 21:54:36

Also I found it helpful not to reward every single time. That way they don't know when the treat might come so they pay attention.

Depends what you want him to learn. I'm a bit confused to be honest.

You could decide that a sit and wait command is v useful - so break the chain in his mind by always returning to him to praise. Never call him in from a wait.

And on a general note, the training is about him doing what you want/have asked him to do. Not what he has decided to do by himself. Rewarding him for choosing what he wants to do won't teach him to actually listen to you - rather it'll teach him a repertoire of tricks which he can pull out of the hat whenever he fancies to get his reward. Fabulous, funny and charming - but not what you actually need him to do.

Recall is about them learning that they have no choice but obey the command first go. Teaching them not to ignore you is a large part of it - so reward only when he has followed an instruction and take high value rewards to dish out when he has returned absolutely immediately at high speed. Go back to a long line if it has temporarily gone to pot.

I've never hidden from a dog - and can't for the life of me see how it helps. I know I am probably out of touch with that though. Crouching on the ground will often bring a reluctant dog in - and so will turning around and walking away from them.

ButThereAgain Mon 14-Oct-13 22:52:18

Well, there's lots ofthings I want him to learn. The wait-and-recall was one, the recall without a wait first is another. When I want him to stay in one place until I return to him, I use 'stay' instead of 'wait'. Of course rewards are for doing what i want : the problem in this case was thay he WAS doing whay I wanted, because he was coming when called. It's just that a preliminary of that was his choosing to wait behind.

I think the sensible advice was to lkay off the wait-and-recall when out for walks. I don't do it often anyway.

tabulahrasa Tue 15-Oct-13 08:52:48

Hiding is just fun mostly grin

I do it because it gives him something to do other than look for other dogs and it tires him out and it makes him watch where I'm going more rather than just assuming I'll always be where he thought I was.

I was just suggesting it as a way to break the OP's dog cueing her behaviour - not as actual recall training.

ButThereAgain Tue 15-Oct-13 09:18:48

Yes, hiding is a bit of fun -- so long as dog doesn't scarper home! Anything that adds a bit of fun and keeps your dog looking at you for clues and entertainment is good!

Partly, I was just interested in the question about how much a dog can and can't work out about a situation. The actual problem isn't severe.

Usually his recalls comes when he has just scarpered off into the woods after a rabbit or deer. I give him few seconds to get over the thrill of the chase and then recall. He comes very well. But I suppose I'm also teaching him that getting out of sight of your owner for a while means a reward will follow! It is always hard to teach a useful behaviour without also setting up other cues that you don't particularly want your dog to pick up on! PRTs being the kind of beasts they are, they will pick up on everything!

Variety is an answer I suppose. Lots of different scenarios, so that you are always keeping your dog's puzzle-solving capacities fixed on looking at you for clues.

waikikamookau Tue 15-Oct-13 09:43:14

my dog does that too, grin, stops and waits, lags behind rather, and comes running expectantly when I call, or she will come for a treat, then go back to where she was grin

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