My dog just won't come back

(22 Posts)
CaptainTripps Tue 17-Jun-14 14:35:51

My 10 month old puppy used to be good at recall over in the park but, since he has grown in confidence, if he sees a playful dog in the distance then he is off and away. No amount of calling can get him back. I usually puff and pant as I jog over to grab him. Sometimes it can be quite a distance.

Today my dog saw in the distance another playful dog and made a run for him. The other dog had an owner who must have been hell bent in getting home. I was running and calling after him and the man seemed to be walking faster and faster - presumably back to his house. I was about half a field away. I was almost sobbing. My dog wasn't responding and they were getting further away. I just wanted the man to slow down or stop to give me a chance to catch up. I finally did catch up before they left the confines of the field and the latched gate but I had to yell, 'please STOPPPPP FFS'.

What can I do to improve my dog's recall? Today gave me a bad fright and I realised I have to do something.

HavantGuard Tue 17-Jun-14 14:41:49

For a start, stop letting him off lead. Full stop. If you know you have no recall then every time you let him off you are running the risk of him ending up lost, being attacked by another dog that isn't pleased to see him, getting run over, him frightening someone who is afraid of dogs ...

Use a long line and practice recall on that in your garden, giving him lovely treats for coming. When he seems to be getting it there, try the long line out on a walk somewhere quiet and away from other dogs. When he seems to be getting that, try him on the long line somewhere with more distractions eg a field next to a path used by dog walkers.

Lilcamper Tue 17-Jun-14 14:44:17

Only attach a long line to a harness.

HavantGuard Tue 17-Jun-14 14:45:37

That isn't having a go BTW. I had the same kind of experience as you with another dog walker striding on while she could see me trying to chase after them when my youngest was a puppy. I've also had a woman scream - honestly, blood curdling screaming - because my on lead dog got within 3 feet of her. The world is not dog friendly.

HavantGuard Tue 17-Jun-14 14:47:22

Yes. We use the perfect fit ones. I also bought a bungee cord to put between the harness and the long line and it is bloody useless. It does provide resistance training for the dogs who see how far they can stretch it grin

CaptainTripps Tue 17-Jun-14 14:55:34

TY both. You speak good sense.

LJHH Tue 17-Jun-14 15:04:22

Our dog never mastered the recall thing,she's only allowed on the stretchy lead and you have to hang on to her before we open the front door.
She escaped once and ended up on a roundabout up the road with my poor mum trying to catch the little bugger.

She'll sit, lay, high 5 etc, just won't bloody come back when you call her.

Asleeponasunbeam Tue 17-Jun-14 15:06:39

We never called ours unless we were certainly he would return! Sounds silly, but it stops them learning to ignore you. If he was too far away, or doing something exciting, I'd go and physically fetch him.

Lots and lots of recall practice just at home is helpful. Call his name, give him a piece of kibble when he comes. As infinitum. I feed my dog his whole meal like this sometimes (when I've got free time or he's been a bit slow to respond).

It's important to be really rewarding when they do come to you - don't tell them off, even if it's taken forever! But it won't if you're going to practise with a long line.

Mine (a springer) grew up the day he discovered the joys of a ball thrower. He loves to play fetch so I am infinitely more interesting than other dogs or passers by.

Whoknowswhocares Tue 17-Jun-14 15:12:48

Agree you shouldn't let him off until you have worked on a solid recall.
And it is a bit unfair to expect other dog owners to slow down/stop to cater for your dog's selective hearing...... You have no way of knowing if they are aggressive/elderly/sick etc and being kept separate for any number of reasons. likewise the other dogs owner had no idea of your dog's intent as it hurtled towards them!

Are you attending classes at all? This would give you the chance to build your dog up to recalling away from other dogs gradually which can be very hard to replicate out and about.

k9wendy Tue 17-Jun-14 15:13:25

Our current dog had fantastic recall as a pup, turned into a deaf teenager with zero recall with the result she spent a full year never being let off.. back to basics and now she is three she has perfect recall again. We spent that year back on a lead, back to basic training, long line, whistle and clicker training and forming an attachment to a very special toy she only ever got on a recall.

KatieKaye Tue 17-Jun-14 15:17:42

My westie has no recall once he's running and I've tried everything. Treats are useless bcos he'd rather be running. Do it's lead on unless in an enclosed field. He does sit and stay, so this is what I use instead and then have to hobble as fast as possible over to him. A bit undignified but it works.

CaptainTripps Tue 17-Jun-14 15:26:33

Thanks everyone. Stretchy lead it is. He was fine before - it's just the last few weeks there is more fun to be had with other dogs than with me.

Hobbling is the right word for me too, Katie!
K9wendy - sounds exactly lie ours. You give me hope.
whoknows - I hear ya. But the distance we walked, the grumpy git could have just slowed down until I'd hobbled/half jogged like an ungainly porpoise. He seemed to speed up if anything. Weird. Everyone is so nice over at the park

soddinghormones Tue 17-Jun-14 15:51:05

Most trainers would recommend a long line rather than stretchy lead

moosemama Tue 17-Jun-14 16:14:10

I would be one of the owners that went striding off, speeding up as your dog gained on us and left you to deal with your own dog I'm afraid, as my pup is fearful of other off-lead dogs after having several run the length of the park and leap all over him when he was tiny. If I stopped and tried to help you I would put him over threshold and set his training back, as well has having him barking on the end of the lead. Removing him from the other dog as quickly as possible is my only option in these situations.

I agree with others upthread. Stick to a long-line and harness until you're sure he will come back. If you've kyboshed the recall cue by repeatedly calling him when he's running away, then either try a whistle (acme gundog whistles are cheap on Ebay). I prefer whistles as they always sound consistent and can never sound desperate or exasperated - as we all do on occasion when our dogs have decided to bog off - and no dog is perfect, so it does happen to most of us at some point. Alternatively, try teaching an instant down or even a wait.

I like to use intermittent jackpot rewards like a whole pouch of cat food for my dogs every now and again, so they can never be sure when something wonderful is going to happen if they hurtle back to me as soon as they hear me call. Using a toy obsession as K9wendy described above is another a great idea.

If you're interested in doing a whole recall programme I'd highly recommend the book Total Recall, which walks you through the process step by step.

Your lad is just about the right age to start finding the world at large more interesting than his family and also to begin testing his boundaries. Don't despair, it's really common and clear, rewarding, consistent training is all you need to get him through it.

SpicyPear Tue 17-Jun-14 17:10:12

Some good advice here - back on the lead and start again with the training. Long lines are better than retractables for recall training and you can start to let them trail when he is recalling fairly reliably again.

As moose says, your anger at the other person for walking off is misplaced. They might have a valid reason to need to get away from your dog. My terrier is pretty dog friendly but has a low tolerance of bouncy puppies bothering him and I would be trying to get away as soon as possible. If I had a slip lead on me I might get your dog and return them but would pretty annoyed at having to interfere with our walk to do it. Even if there is no particular issue it's not their job to control your dog.

Whoknowswhocares Tue 17-Jun-14 17:33:57

", the grumpy git could have just slowed down until I'd hobbled/half jogged like an ungainly porpoise. He seemed to speed up if anything. Weird. "

No, not weird AT ALL in my book. Just a responsible owner doing what is best for his own dog.
He could have any number of very good reasons for doing this as detailed above. If your dog barged up to mine without permission, I'd give you EXTREMELY short thrift. It's dangerous and inconsiderate. That said, good on you for wanting to sort it out. Longline,treats and patience should have it dealt with fairly soon (although the teen stage may well play its part for a while yet)

As an aside, chasing after your dog is unlikely to do anything other than make him speed up. Walking away is far more effective, although obviously contingent on it being safe to do so.

thenightsky Tue 17-Jun-14 17:41:47

What someone said back up-thread reminded me of my lovely old lab who is no longer with us. She learned to ignore her name being called. However, one shout of 'where's yer ball' or 'rabbits!' stopped her in her tracks instantly grin

KatieKaye Tue 17-Jun-14 17:59:13

I've tried walking away when dog was cavorting in fenced field. I went out of eyeshot and actually hid behind a tree. Dog was not at all bothered and continued gambolling merrily away! He's basically made the decision that no treat. (Sausage, cheese etc) is worth his while giving what he really enjoys,

Toooldtobearsed Tue 17-Jun-14 18:45:25

I read somewhere that we train our dogs from a very young age to ignore us with recall. It certainly struck a chord with me. If you think, we let them run free, and when they find a particularly lovely dog/ person/rabbit to be best friends with, we call them back and put them on a lead.
Well, would you come back?
My lab at 6/7 months is not too bad. We walk in the same place, at the same time every morning, off lead. We meet the same people and all know each others dogs. Although he gets excited when greeting them, he does come back to me immediately because he knows the routine.

Our afternoon walk is always to somewhere different, but I use that time to walk him on lead, we have had an odd 'episode' and although he is food orientated (he is a lab)! Meeting and greeting would certainly take preference.

I just know from experience of several dogs over the past 30 do years that they DO get there eventually. My last old girl could have had a bomb dropped next to her and she would just have plodded past it! It is just getting past the difficult times and reinforcing the training - hard work at the time, but worth it in the end [ grin]

CaptainTripps Tue 17-Jun-14 20:07:30

Thanks again. It's just so frustrating when he was coming back no problem. Now this! Some really good pointers for me above.

SpicyPear Tue 17-Jun-14 20:17:03

It's very very common in dogs entering adolescence to lose their recall. Frustrating yes but if you remain consistent and don't allow him to get into the habit, then you should come out the other side with it sorted.

Owllady Tue 17-Jun-14 22:56:27

If you do walk away, you need to squeal in an excited fashion, stamp your feet and then run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. Even the most escape artists of dogs will stop in their tracks and chase you.
I did this with my first dog who was an unclaimed stray, it was guaranteed to work if she ever did get out/off accidentally. smile

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