Recall training with a dog who is not food orientated

(26 Posts)
NCISaddict Sun 06-Jul-14 18:01:39

I'm struggling to train our nearly one year old border collie in a perfect recall as he is not in the slightest bit interested in any form of food reward when out. He is toy obsessed but if you produce a toy then he doesn't listen to anything else.
I praise him and make a fuss of him but we don't seem to be getting anywhere, he never runs away and always comes back after a couple of minutes or if I turn my back on him but I'd really like a perfect recall. I have the book but he won't read it.grin

Any bright ideas?

No food at all? I did training with a pocketful of chopped hot dog ... Bleurgh! Does he have a favourite toy that you can bring out for training?

Owllady Sun 06-Jul-14 18:12:43

I will join you with my non food obsessed collie too grin

The thing that works ime, is getting them to follow you. Lots of calling back so they learn not to go so far away.

Act ridiculous, lie of the floor, stamp your feet and run off. It Will put people off you, your friends will disown you but the dog will learn to come back

Whoknowswhocares Sun 06-Jul-14 18:15:50

Buy a new toy and produce it ONLY for a successful recall. It needs to be something a bit out of the ordinary that he doesn't otherwise have access to. I use
Things from www.tug-e-nuff for tuggie toys or a rabbit fur covered ball from www.sportingsaint.co.uk for ball driven dogs.

YouLoveItDoreen Sun 06-Jul-14 18:16:00

I found crouching low to the ground with my arms out wide would encourage my BC to come back, she loved lots of fuss on her return. I did have another dog at the time which I think helped as she could see him coming back (for a treat). Have you tried raw food treats?

CharlesRyder Sun 06-Jul-14 18:19:25

My greyhound puppy wasn't bothered about food either. We cooked liver cake for her- that did work!

I have also done the lying on the ground/ hiding/ making weird noises thing. Gets you noticed if you walk your dog in the woods right by Broadmoor!! grin

We have never really managed to get recall in the presence of a tasty snack wildlife though. Even liver cake isn't fun to chase. In the end we gave up and only let her off the lead in a racing muzzle.

SpicyPear Sun 06-Jul-14 18:22:34

What have you been doing with the toy? It needs to be something kept just for recall and something you control. So you tuggy or whatever's or a bit then ask for a drop it before putting it away until next needed.

Ephedra Sun 06-Jul-14 18:27:16

We have the same issue with our border collie. He is 5 now and his recall is ok but I use different commands if I think he will ignore a recall. Our last collie had a 100% recall so I know I can train it but current collie isn't willing. I even used a long line for a year and his recall was perfect until I removed ithmm.

The other commands we use are "This way" which means we are going this way and he must come with us. He has done this perfectly for years. I can also put him in a down stay at a distance then go get him or I can tell him to wait (at the gate or wherever) and get him as I walk past.

You need to train your dog using toys, start really small then build up. My collie will do nearly everything for a toy as he will for a treat. In fact he will obey more commands in the park for the toy than he will for a treat. Actually he wont do anything for food in the park!

NCISaddict Sun 06-Jul-14 19:23:48

You see, if I use a toy he is then absolutely fixated on the toy to the exclusion of everything else, doesn't come near just crouches at a distance and waits for me to throw the toy.
It's not a huge issue as he does come back to have his lead on and will never lose us as he stays close and always has one eye on us, never going out of sight. But I would still like a recall that works every time not just at the end of a walk. I can get him to do a distance down and wait until I walk up to him.
If I call him midway through a walk, he looks at me and you can almost see the thought process 'well she's still there, I can see her and we're still going the same way so why the hell should I interrupt my harrassment of the squirrel population for a piece of dried liver/chicken/sprats'
If I change direction he immediately follows me, never chases off after another dog and won't follow me but........

Ephedra Sun 06-Jul-14 19:33:41

It took months for me to get my collie to do things for a toy. We started at home and I treated it like I had never trained him before. I started with sit and the toy was mine until he sat! It took ages as all he did was just crouch there looking at the toy. In the end I thing I used a toy as the reward in clicker training for some of the clicks.

It is very useful to train a dog to have other types of reward than just food and is worth the effort to train it.

JesusInTheCabbageVan Sun 06-Jul-14 19:38:32

Boggling at the idea of a dog that isn't food obsessed.

I saw a police dog training exercise once where food wasn't used. Instead it was a sort of 'trophy toy' which ONLY ever got brought out for good behaviour, but was otherwise quite dull so the dog didn't get distracted and spend ages playing with it. IIRC it was just a ball on a rope, and the dog would sort of do a victory lap displaying this toy very proudly before it got taken off him again.

NCISaddict Sun 06-Jul-14 19:47:09

I will give it a go with a toy, the clicker horrifies him and he goes and hides, strange dog. As someone said up thread, on a longline he's perfect, I think he's just too clever for me, he knows I won't leave him, interestingly his recall is better with DH who doesn't spend as much time with him.
His recall at training class is fine, I think he knows someones in charge who knows what they're doing.
Other than that he's the perfect dog.

muttynutty Sun 06-Jul-14 19:56:21

Dogs that are toy obsessed are way easier to train than dogs that works for treats. You are a lucky owner smile.

Think about it a dog that loves food comes to you gets a treat eats it - the reward is over in seconds even if they get several treats.

A toy obsessed dog will get minutes of rewards and therefore the reward is of a huge value to the dog as it is bigger and more exciting.

You need to teach your dog to bring the ball to you and only then will you throw it - then you will have the best recall in the world. Back chain this so indoors teach the dog to give the ball to your hand. Alternatively introduce a tuggy with a ball on it, just play tuggy and get your dog to love this and you will have fantastic recall. Collies love to tug.

You can teach a touch. The dog has to touch his nose on your hand. If you call touch from a distance the dog will run to you to touch yor hand.

Also teach middle - teach the dog to sit between your legs - you can call middle and the dog whatever the distance will run to the middle position.

Collies will love this training and will love the variety of recall.

Only throw the ball after they have given you the touch or the middle trick.

SpicyPear Sun 06-Jul-14 19:56:43

I don't have collie experience but if a ball works you could try teaching a marker for "I'm going to throw your ball". I use a squeak, so squeak then throw (but throw non-squeaky item!). Eventually the squeak is learnt as a predictor and the squeak now works as an emergency recall for one of my dogs.

Whoknowswhocares Sun 06-Jul-14 20:23:03

The only thing I think you are doing wrong is throwing/playing with the toy or ball before he recalls tbh.

If he waits fixated on the ball some distance out, play with it yourself and tease him with it a little or throw it a tiny distance behind you so you can get to it first. Get a ball on a rope and attach some extra rope and swirl it around at your feet.Or even walk away from him throwing it in the air! Just make out you are having a great game and make him desperate to join in.

His obsession is a MASSIVE tool in your arsenal. You just have to make certain he only gets what he wants (ie the toy) once he's done what you say (recalled)

Whoknowswhocares Sun 06-Jul-14 20:24:54

Edit. Ok, so you've got him to come back once and he's now had his ball thrown. How do you get him to come back again?

Easy! Take two balls/toys and restart the process with the second one, insisting he comes back with the first to get the now more enticing 'live' toy

NCISaddict Sun 06-Jul-14 20:45:02

Some brilliant ideas, will start tomorrow with a new toy. Thank you, should have thought of these myself but my previous collie and springer just 'got ' recall without me trying. I think this one is a little more challenging although brilliant in every other respect, snoozing at my feet as we speak.

soddinghormones Sun 06-Jul-14 21:00:23

My nearly 1 year old Toller is not interested in food at all when we're out - he gets quite irritated if you try to give him a treat, however 'high value' it is hmm

He never goes far away and I can always get his lead on at the end of a walk but if he gets it into his head to join in a game of football or gets convinced that a random stranger wants to throw his ball or (my biggest headache) remembers where the biggest, muddiest puddles are then I lose my status as 'most interesting thing'

He will usually come for a squeaky tennis ball but once he's got it I then am left without any heavy-duty weapons ...

He will work for treats in training class (where he is perfectly behaved) and at home although his face really lights up when he sees a favourite toy rather than food

Having grown up with a lab who would never turn her nose up at food even when on her last legs I find it quite baffling ..

soddinghormones Sun 06-Jul-14 21:06:32

Have just read all the replies posted after I started mine blush

mutty - everything's fine as long as I have the ball - I can steer him past any distraction as long as he knows I have the ball as he's utterly fixated on it. Things only go wrong if he spots something or someone he wants to investigate after the ball's been thrown and he's got it but not yet started bringing it back

NCISaddict Sun 06-Jul-14 21:09:46

Mine is just like yours sodding, I remember your gorgeous pup from where the wild things are thread. I never take him anywhere there might be someone playing with a ball or he may still be there.smile

My Springer would do anything for food and my previous BC just did recall perfectly from the word go, so I was a bit at a loss. We go to training classes that don't use food which is a huge breakthrough, my previous classes didn't seem to get the idea that dogs exist that aren't food obsessed.

I'm off to purchase a toy on a rope tomorrow and give that a go.

Whoknowswhocares Sun 06-Jul-14 22:46:20

sodding
Get yourself a second squeaky ball and you've cracked it!

NCISaddict Mon 07-Jul-14 07:46:39

Finn showing what he can do, he happily waits for me to walk up to him and put the lead on. Hopefully will have some recall success with a toy.

Aked Mon 07-Jul-14 16:07:57

THIS is an excellent article. Related to dogs that predatory chase, but I think you could adapt it to a recall with a toy obsessed dog.

moosemama Mon 07-Jul-14 17:34:17

My BC cross was just like this. We trained her using a squeaky ball that she only ever got as an absolute A Grade reward. I kept it in my pocket and just the tiniest squeak from it would bring her flying across a field to get to me - then she only got to have a game with it if she presented herself in a sit right in front of my feet.

We had the same problem with the obsessive following and watching us when the ball had been produced once on a walk, so taught the 'go play' cue, to let her know there was no chance of another ball game just yet, but she could go and do her own thing for a while. I use 'go play' with all mine now, as it's a great way of giving them permission to be themselves for a while.

Pip is a different ball game (if you'll excuse the pun). He is food oriented, but has recently decided to be a bit teenagery. While his recall is still pretty good for a juvenile Lurcher, we do have the odd "yeah, yeah Mum, in a minute" moment with him and also the 'almost recall' where he comes back but finds something terribly interesting just before he reaches me and veers off to sniff it, before coming back in his own sweet time. hmm I've got round this by teaching him that when he returns, touching my hand, when it's palm-forwards by my side, releases a 'food bomb' of top-grade, extra tasty treats - as in the other hand chucks a load of treats into the grass and we then both have fun chasing around after them.

I've found this seems to have reminded him it's worth coming back to me as soon as I ask him to and we're now at the point of him never knowing whether he's going to get a food bomb, a treat, a fuss or go back on the lead for a minute before being allowed off to play again and he's racing to get back to me just in case.

EvenBetter Mon 07-Jul-14 17:50:21

I co-parent a border collie and he's obsessed with his toy, he lives for it getting thrown.
To get him to come closer to me rather than waiting for it to be thrown, I gt him to do tricks, which he has to be right beside me to do, he smiles, barks, or does paw, high five and wave, then the toy gets thrown.

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