Young dog's failing recall!

(10 Posts)
alwaysseemslikehalfterm Wed 11-Jun-14 21:06:48

So a bit of background. Our dog is a 20 month ish cross breed of questionable descent grin Closest guesses are probably Collie x springer x pointer ish.

She is full of beans most of the time and quite excitable. She trains well and loves food / treats etc. Has learnt quite a few commands very quickly.

We did a lot of work on recall training and she got really reliable. We called her back frequently on walks for high value treats, sometimes to go back and play again, other times to go on the lead.

One of her favourite walks is a local wooded area, that also had water and a field. Probably around 2 months ago she started going further afield when we let her off lead, zooming around and thoroughly enjoying herself, but still responding to a 'this way', 'here' (recall word) or the whistle.

But gradually her recall started to become unreliable, to the point of when she got near then end of her walk, she wouldn't come back. After this happened a couple of times we kept her on lead, doing pavement walks, whilst starting to introduce a new recall command at home. This went well and we started to use it in carefully selected areas on her walks, getting he back on the lead early etc and really praising.

Then, this weekend, we had a nightmare walk, in her favourite place, where as soon as she got off lead she wasn't listening. She was running all over the place and not staying particularly close. We continued the walk, hoping to tire her out and get hold of her at some point....

... almost 2 hours until we got hold of her, by luck. We didn't continue using the recall word as we knew she wasn't listening to anything so hopefully we haven't devalued the new word.

So where to go from here? I have had her on pavement walk the last few days but intend to dig out the dreaded long line - she cannot be trusted off lead and I know we don't have her under control at all times if she is. It seems that once she's all excited, she takes no notice at all. How do be firstly get her to stay close enough when off lead but also to get her to 'hear' when she is so distracted?

She loves zooming through trees and long grass and I don't want her to do that, but in some areas she simply goes too far away from us.

I have thought about walking her in her favourite place on a short lead to get her used to walking next to us there, but how do I teach her when it's ok to run off and enjoy herself?

This is what I was expecting quite a few months ago in the 'teenage years' and thought I had got away with it, clearly not!

Any help is much appreciated!

alwaysseemslikehalfterm Wed 11-Jun-14 21:09:44

She loves zooming through trees and long grass and I don't want her to lose that, but in some areas she simply goes too far away from us.

Must learn to preview!

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Wed 11-Jun-14 21:17:25

Go back to basics. She's probably going through her teenage phase and will be an utter pain in the arse! grin Start with the recall on the long lead etc and don't let her off in any wide open spaces. You shouldn't have to do it for too long. Build up your and her confidence again.

Also have you tried putting her lead on before you're ready to go, mooching around for a bit and then taking it off again? So she doesn't come to associate the lead with the end of the fun?

Sounds like a lovely dog otherwise, enjoy!

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Wed 11-Jun-14 21:21:55

And yes you're right not to keep calling her when she doesn't come back. All that does it devalue the command and reach her to ignore it.

What I used to do when my boy was younger was go and get him and take him back to the spot where he was told to stop. He never went that far so it wasn't too bad but it taught him that it was no use running away because I'd always get him. grin

alwaysseemslikehalfterm Wed 11-Jun-14 21:31:57

Yes we do periodically put her on the lead, although in all honesty it's definitely not every walk, maybe only once a week if that.

The annoying thing is that in some ways she is becoming much easier - doesn't get so incredibly excited about other dogs and will come away quite nicely. Ignores people, cyclists etc. She just loves running about like a nutter!

All the other dogs seem to be nice and close to their owners and ours could be 100m away!

I think we will have to avoid her favourite walk, although I just have to tell myself it's short term and she will have plenty of years to enjoy her time there once she learns to behave again.

Kleptronic Wed 11-Jun-14 21:32:01

Does she like a squeaky toy? My dog's recall if he saw another dog he was keen on eyeing and herding (he's a collie) was appalling. I tried everything, training, classes, short, mid and long line, hot dog sausages, cheese, fish, swearing, but when he 'went' that was it, he'd gone and couldn't hear me. He's not bothered about food at all either. Then I realised he loves a squeaker (I took him on 'free to good home' as a teen and he was a demented nightmare!); I ration it. He randomly gets it for seriously good times, and he gets it for coming back to me under trying circumstances. The sound breaks through to him and he comes.

alwaysseemslikehalfterm Wed 11-Jun-14 21:41:48

I did try a squeaky toy, but she's not that interested when out.

I had started taking the ball which would keep her attention for a little while, rather than her running off for ages, but she doesn't see it as a reward, if that makes sense.

She loves all food and is very food orientated, maybe I need to up the reward to sometimes a whole chicken breast of something. She sees food as the ultimate reward. The annoying thing is, when he recall is good, it's spot on and text book. She loves the reward etc. When it's not, she's just a little bugger!

SpicyPear Wed 11-Jun-14 23:04:02

Yes back to basics unfortunately. It sounds like you know what to do - long line, treats, no opportunities to run off and ignore you.

Even with my older dog I have to step things up now and again in our regular walking spots or she'll start to do her own thing!

alwaysseemslikehalfterm Thu 12-Jun-14 17:08:04

First day of the long line today! Went to a shady nature reserve. Probably for the first time I took notice of when she was listening and when she wasn't, so when she wasn't she went on a shorter lead until she did.

I stopped at a bench in a grassy area to do some clicker training and realised just how distracted if is, she struggled even to do watch, which she can do for ages at home. When we played ball she would run but then not bother with it!

On the plus side I am teaching her to wait when I throw the ball until I say go, and she understood which is a start.
I intend to make this into the cue for her to run off and have fun.

So on the long line and much more training on walks . Hopefully over time that will help her to focus a bit more. I realised today that as soon as the bushes rustled, she wasn't listening to me.

She is now shattered!

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Thu 12-Jun-14 18:07:18

Well you're half way there if you understand the problem. It's just working on getting her to understand that's the long and arduous bit. Sounds like you're on the right track.

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