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Hit a bad patch with 4-month puppy, please advise

(16 Posts)
eemie Fri 15-Aug-08 08:21:24

She has made a brilliant start in every way and we all love her. She's a black lab and already quite big.

She's making progress on the lead but still pulls mightily towards other dogs.

The trouble is that she's suddenly become unreliable about coming when called. She does well in the garden - though not as well as she did a couple of weeks ago, she's slower to respond.

On the common this morning, though, she ran off after two other dogs and was deaf to may calls. She got quite a long way away from me before the other dogs' owners finally stopped and gave me a chance to catch her. It was a safe area but it scared me.

Apart from that she came to my call every time. But she finds other dogs irresistibly exciting.

If I have her on the long lead when we meet other dogs it gets so tangled I'm afraid she'll break a leg.

We are going to puppy class and I'll ask the trainer for advice too


MelT76 Fri 15-Aug-08 08:46:52

My MIL has a black lab (now 2 yrs old) and the walking and pulling is still a problem. She does come when called tho so that should get better. I think this is just how the breed is. They tend to get over excited and go deaf, like children really!

hercules1 Fri 15-Aug-08 08:49:30

It takes a long time usually for dogs to come back and be reliable on recall. You'll be taught how to train her in classes and then need to keep it up.

newpup Fri 15-Aug-08 09:33:37

Hello. Can not offer any advice I am afraid. But a few of us with lab puppies have a thread on here. It has been great support if you are interested, any way I will bump it for you.

Feel free to join us smile

bethoo Fri 15-Aug-08 09:37:07

take her to puppy classes ,once she gets used to other dogs she will not have so much of an urge to chase after them. make sure she interacts with lots of other dogs. try keeping treats in your pocket when you take her out.
you could also ask someone with a well behaved dog to train with you. get a long lead and let her go the full length first without the dog in sight and call her back using treats/toy then gradually get the other dog to be in the distance so she can see it but not actaully get to it. gradually let the dog get closer and claser each time so finally they meet then call her. may work just a thought smile

Cosette Fri 15-Aug-08 09:40:03

make sure you have some interesting (food) treats on your walk, and give them to her if she comes when called, when no other dogs are around. Also make a big fuss of her each time she comes back, and call her even when you don't need to, as practice. Try limit calling her to when you think she will come initially. That way you will get her conditioned to coming automatically when called.

You want to avoid the situation where she's aware of you calling but ignores it, as otherwise it then becomes harder, as she will tune you out then even when there are no distractions.

bethoo Fri 15-Aug-08 09:42:10

also, i know it may be a bit early for you to be thinking this but if you get her spade that may help her lose interest in other dogs too. the last thing you want too is a bitch in heat running off to the local riff raff! grin

hatwoman Fri 15-Aug-08 09:46:43

hi - I too have a 4 month black lab. I've said it to all the mn pup owners: this book is brilliant. the training classes will help too.

I've been doing classes and the important things for recall are - that you need to be the most exciting thing in the dog's life - you need to play with it loads on walks, practise recall all the time on walks and make it something positive ie don't just do it to get him away from something he's enjoying, and reward massively (ie with food). always use the same command, and if he doesn't come don't repeat it or re-say it using other words - (which turns your voice into background noise and teaches him to ignore you) go and get him.

re pulling on lead - have you taught him a "look at me" command? it can be his name or an actual command like "look" - but it means look me in the eye. once you've got that you can use it when walking and it prevents them from/stops them wanting to pull.the other important thing is not to reward pulling by letting him get his way. if he pulls stop. do something more interesting like practising "sit" then carry on walking. and (sorry this is getting long) we found that feeding A when we got back from walks was a major cause of pulling - as soon as we turned the corner and he could see our house he was desperate to get home - and that was only after feeding him after a walk twice.

bella29 Fri 15-Aug-08 15:20:03

Very impressed, hatwoman - you have definitely got the training sorted!

Can I add though for everyone else, on a purely pedantic veterinary note, that dogs shouldn't be fed immediately before or after exercise as they can get a fatal condition called bloat or GDV? Give them 30-45 mins either side, especially the large breeds. I hate to be a party pooper but I've seen dogs die of that sad

hatwoman Fri 15-Aug-08 15:22:09

blimey bella! that's not being a party pooper - I'm amazed I haven't seen that - thanks. and btw I've only got the theory cracked. we're working on the practice...

bella29 Fri 15-Aug-08 15:24:04

You are the training guru, hatwoman. We will all be turning to you in future wink

bella29 Fri 15-Aug-08 15:27:32

But because I'm the veterinary geek, here's some info about bloat & how likely your breed of dog is to get it bloat

eemie Fri 15-Aug-08 17:58:56

Thanks very much everyone.

We are going to classes and I'm doing pretty much as you've advised, e.g.-

practising the call when I'm sure she'll come;
rewarding with delicious treats (she's comically passionate about liver cake);
lots of praise;
stopping or turning round and going the other way when she pulls;

Thanks for the reminder about playing games with her, maybe I should step that up a bit.

Off to find the lab owners' support thread [smile)

hatwoman Fri 15-Aug-08 19:09:36

I think it's just a case of sticking at it then smile - I do think they get a bit braver and bolshey when they enter the teenage years...

woodstock3 Sat 16-Aug-08 17:44:00

we have a year-old black lab and had exactly the same problem - playing with other dogs is just sooo exciting they can't help it. we bribed him with treats when he did come back, and when he didnt we went to fetch him and put him on the lead as punishment (he was normally allowed off the lead on walks) for a bit before letting him off and usually going through the same cycle again...
we were also more successful in stopping him BEFORE he ran off (at the point where he had spotted the other dog but before he'd gone) than getting him to come back before he'd gone. i noticed he was always worse as well when walked with the pram as i probably ignored him more and was therefore rather boring company, so second the advice about playing a lot.
there were days i thought it'd never work but by about 11 months he was reliably coming back and now he is good as gold - will romp off and play but comes rocketing back if called. i think it's partly just maturity (the dog's not yours!) - it does work in the end. our vet says labs are generally very good to train as they are both cleverer and keener to please than average.

eemie Sat 16-Aug-08 21:08:59

Thanks very much everyone for the encouragement.

I've really concentrated on getting her to come over short distances and then letting her go and play again, so she doesn't always think I'm going to spoil her fun. It already seems to be paying off.

And I have played more games with her - but not chase! Apparently my nephews played chase with her when I wasn't here and I think that's partly why she thinks it's fun to run away from me.

On the plus side I've been trying to teach her to ring a bell when she needs out and she's really getting the hang of that smile

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