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What reinforcer is strong enough to bring a spaniel back from the woods?

(34 Posts)
SoupDragon Thu 16-Jun-11 09:48:03

Because what works for training at home holds no interest when out. Cheese, pepperami, ham, standard dog treats... all wolfed with glee at home but spat out or ignored when out.

I can't let him off lead at all because he won't come back. He shows no interest in the treats when on the lead and I try to reward him for coming back.

I am not cooking him liver cake!

emptyshell Thu 16-Jun-11 10:03:05

What's he like with squeaky toys?

I've resorted to keeping a squeaky ball in my bag as a lure back from the dog going all Squirrel Rambo Asbo in the woods near us.

SoupDragon Thu 16-Jun-11 10:07:35

I must confess I've not tried squeaky toys as he has a tendency to chew toys up and I'm worried he'll squeak grin

jellybrain Thu 16-Jun-11 10:14:40

Fridge Raiders - gets the kids back too grin

SoupDragon Thu 16-Jun-11 10:15:37

God, I don't want them back!

jellybrain Thu 16-Jun-11 10:22:29

Disclaimer: Please note that that the DCs only have FRs when I have tired all other means of tempting them out of the woods and will only get a whole one on rare occaisions.

Spamspamspam Thu 16-Jun-11 10:23:40

Squeaky toy works for me, well actually I just have a squeaker that she had pulled out of one of her toys and this "usually" works, I then give her a treat when she comes back. However this did fail a little bit the other day when she kept coming back but then pegging it back to the other dog so I need to actually take a toy and do a bit of tug of war I think - I got too compacement with just having a squeaker

CoffeeIsMyFriend Thu 16-Jun-11 10:57:34

get yourself a long line and do recall with that.

I have a ball on a rope, tennis balls and toys that I just use for training. You have to really make them want that toy!

I have a dog that is food motivated and another that spits out anything if it isnt his ball. But I used a long line when training puppy until her recall was perfect.

midori1999 Thu 16-Jun-11 11:15:22

A ball is probably much more likely to be successful than a treat, especially if you get him really interested in it at home first and then restrict the ball to walks only. You do have to make yourself much more interesting than anything else in the whole world, which is more difficult for some dogs than others and especially likely to be difficult for a spaniel who wants to sniff around in the woods!

What will also help is making your dog think that the only way he has 'access' to the woods is on your say so, so keep him on a lead or a longline until you absolutely know for sure that he is going to come back when you call him.

emptyshell Thu 16-Jun-11 11:53:48

Kong wubbas are also fantastic for the squeaky, quick game of tug and somewhat indestructible factor - but I'm a mean bastard and just keep a ball in my pocket as the squirrel recall button (he ain't allowed it cos he'll shred it in seconds).

Trouble is the little git tries to pickpocket it out of my coat when it's hung on the back of a chair! He's wonderfully sneaky with it.

SoupDragon Thu 16-Jun-11 13:06:34

I don't understand how the toy-as-reward thing works in the context of a walk. I get food - you call, they come back, click, treat and they're off again. How does that work with a ball? I know it does work but can't get my head round how/what you do.

I hate taking him for a walk because it is miserable having him on the lead all the time. TBH, Mumsnet hasn't helped because I am now paranoid he will jump up at someone (his other bad habit) and am far too scared to let him off lead. So, he's not happy, I'm not happy and I know the little bugger won't come back... When I call him in at night I can actually hear him running away down the garden. We've dug ourselves into a hole we can't seem to get out of.

midori1999 Thu 16-Jun-11 13:18:45

If you can get him focussed enough on the ball in the first place and teach him that 'come' (or maybe use another word like 'ball' if you already use 'come) means a game of fetch, then he won't run off at all unless you stop throwing the ball and even then he will want to keep one eye on you just on the offchance you're about to call him over for a game with the ball.

Most dogs have a high chase instinct and the chase is always going to be better than a treat, but I do always use treats too.

It really does work. We got a puppy back at 6 months old and she'd basically been 'taught' to 'ignore' her name and any sort of recall. As soon as the lead was off she'd bugger off and honestly wouldn't care less if she never came back. Now if she knows I have a ball on me (which I do when we go for walks) she is glued to my side (I never throw the ball unless she is next to me or doing something I have asked her) and waiting for me to throw the ball the whole walk, she doesn't even notice all the rabbits about that she used to love to chase. Not saying it wasn't hard work getting there, it really was and involved a long period of on lead only time, but it's so nice knowing you have total control of your dog.

silentcatastrophe Thu 16-Jun-11 14:26:05

We have a similar problem with our collie youngster. He bolts. He looks at us, then runs off again. It has been hell and at one point I felt like shooting him. At the moment, he is on a long line and I have been advised to whistle train him. We HAD a whistle, but now we are back to voices. I was also advised to check his behaviour in the house. So... he is not longer allowed to race out of the house. He has to come when he's called, and a few small things.

Bribery and corruption is the way to go. Small yummy treats are great and a good toy. You needn't go out with an entire cooked chicken. It's no better than a bit of sausage or cheese. Lots of patience. Lots of practice. Consistency. Horror dog's bevaviour is impeccable near the house, but less than perfect a field away, so we have to take the training to new grounds. Context is very important.

Yesterday I let horror dog out without his lead, not knowing what would happen. Amazingly, he was brilliant and came sharply back when I called him. I saw that look in his eye, so clearly we are not out of the woods yet

ExitPursuedByAKitten Thu 16-Jun-11 14:30:28

I did a hollow laugh when I read your post. How old is he? My Springer has no interest in food when out - he gets that glazed deranged expression in his eyes - but he also gets the same expression for his ball. The only thing is to keep his interest really. Mine is quite good now, except where ducks/hens/geese are concerned - and then all is lost, so I work on avoiding places where I know there will be problem. Once his ball is out of my pocket his attention is then focussed on me.

SoupDragon Thu 16-Jun-11 14:45:56

He'll be two in July. [sigh] He doesn't look glazed and deranged, he looks at me, witheringly, as if to say "WTF do you think I am? stupid? I will not be bribed with food when there is all this STUFF!"

[sigh] He does like the tennis ball. We've been working on Fetch and Drop so he is keen. I will try. Perhaps dip it in bacon fat first.

He has also been taught to spell his name as he knows that D-I-L-L means I"m persuading a child to take him for a trot round the block in the evening. He is clearly bight enough to get recall hmm

ExitPursuedByAKitten Thu 16-Jun-11 15:05:42

Mine looks through me when I am trying to get his attention with anything, if he can smell a duck.

Is he a springer?

They do get slightly better as they get older (mine is 4 in November)

The other thing is to try hiding from him. Mine would swim round the reservoir all bloody day if he could see me standing waiting for him, so I used to go and sit on a bench by the car park and eventually he would panic and come to find me (although I have been sat waiting for 20 minutes!).

silentcatastrophe Thu 16-Jun-11 16:56:52

We tried hiding from Horror Dog. He took absolutely NO NOTICE. He took no notice of jumping around, making a noise, playing games and having treats with the other dogs. He took no notice of his supper. He leapt out of our bedroom window once in a bid to get out, and he knocked me over by crashing through my legs. He would come back when he was good and ready. If he saw us, he would acknowledge our presence then run off again. Sometimes he would come to the door and if we opened it, he would be off.
I was at the end of my tether and loathing having a dog who was effectively completely out of control. I spoke to a very good behaviourist who reccomended the thing about getting behaviour in the house better, and who referred me to someone more local than himself. The local behaviourist suggest lots and lots and lots of bribery and corruption and games, and not allowing the dog off a line until his recall was stable.
I think there have been some changes, although he is still by no means 100%. So we continue to practice and practice and practice. Maybe one day we can let him race about unencumbered by a line!

ExitPursuedByAKitten Thu 16-Jun-11 17:06:43

It always makes me laugh when advice is to given to make yourself more exciting than whatever is around. There is no way in a thousand years that I could ever make myself more exciting than a duck!

Avantia Thu 16-Jun-11 17:19:17

No matter what treats I have, squeakly toy , ball - no matter how many times I jump up and down, scraeak with excitment at top of my voice - nothing is more appealing than another dog 100 yards away to run off and play with.

No matter how my training is going in ' church hall dog obdience classes' it all goes to pot .

My labs recall when no other dog about otrwhen she has had her play is fab . But once she has spotted a dog she completely blanks me.

I feel your anguish SoupDragon and I want also to get it sorted as in the past some MNs on Doghouse have left me feeling very sad and not wanting to walk my dog off lead.

CoffeeIsMyFriend Thu 16-Jun-11 18:00:46

walk your dog off lead, but put a long line on it. The only way to get a perfect recall is practice - and that means doing it with lots of distractions. Ducks, cats, other dogs - whatever gets your dog 'going' long line, recall, treat/toygame/clicker as reward but you need to do it often and consistently.

If you let your dog get so far away from you on a 30' or 50' that you cannot get the line your dog is too far away fullstop!

There is no magic cure - dog training is always one step forward, two steps back. Just when you get that smug feeling your dog ups the anti and does something to make you think WTF.

Oh and there will always be non dog people out and about, but I am out with the dogs, rain, hail, snow and sun so they can all bog off fair weather people.

Avantia Thu 16-Jun-11 18:09:52

have started the last week with long line training , I think it is helping somewhat but have a long way to go.

Lovely walk today in the heavy rain - completely off lead - nobody about !

ExitPursuedByAKitten Thu 16-Jun-11 18:50:20

Is a long line just a long line (ie anything) or is there a specific product. I find with mine even when he is on the extending lead, I have far less control when he is 10' away from me - he is a very strong dog.

Avantia Thu 16-Jun-11 19:25:22

I have something like this


but a suppose a bit of rope will do - mind it doesn't give you rope burn as you try to grab it as dog dashes off into the distance grin

silentcatastrophe Thu 16-Jun-11 19:38:33

I've got one of those and Horror dog raced off and I got a horrible rope burn and had to take antibiotics. Now we use a lunge line (for horses)- just as cheap, if not cheaper, and made from cotton, not nylon. Some of them also have little bits of leather along them to stop them slipping. With the nylon lines, it can help to tie knots in them so that when they are trailing on the ground, you can tread on them. Some people prefer the retractable leads. I don't personally like them. Whatever suits you. If you can get the recall spot on WITHOUT distractions, it is then time to start adding them. Remember that dog training is also about context.

Exit, have you tried a lead that you can put round your waist? At times I have found it so useful to be able to do this, as it hurts less to be yanked from your hips than it does to have your arms wrenched out of their sockets! You also get to have your hands free!!!

emptyshell Thu 16-Jun-11 19:42:55

I could make myself more exciting - anyone got a strapon bushy tail so I can climb a tree with the squirrels?

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