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Recall gone wrong in 4 month old puppy?!

(19 Posts)
Kingsroadie Thu 04-Aug-11 17:41:42

Hi everyone,

He has been fairly good with recall until recently, when he started ignoring me completely when I try and get him back/pre-emptively call him back. He is mostly bad with other dogs although I feel I can't trust him not to run up to children and jump up at them in excitement (clearly NOT a good thing).

I have read the Culture Clash etc, always use a whistle (which I prime before we leave the house - ie blowing and giving a treat etc, and also when we get to the park before I let him off), have nice treats (although as a result of a bad tummy recently haven't been using cheese etc), loads of praise, and have toys which we take to the park and play with. As soon as I let him off lead I get a toy out (eg frisbee) and run around playing with it and using whistle/treating etc. But if he spots another dog he will run off probably 8 times out of 10 and I will usually have to go and get him. And I can't give him 100% of my attention when out as I have my 20 month old daughter there too. It's very hard as we live in London so no quiet places to practice training him to recall.

Please oh wise ones: what more can I do?! Has he entered the dreaded adolescent phase early?! Obv there is keeping him on lead but a) how will he ever learn recall if I don't train him off lead? and b) he seems to need a bit of a dash round off lead to burn some energy. It makes going to the park at the moment rather stressful and I do end up with him on the lead a lot.

Thanks guys!

slinkyboo Thu 04-Aug-11 20:07:43

Not much help I'm afraid but I would like some tips too as I'm in the same situation. I feel like a prize idiot excitedly calling his name to try and get him to come, and inside I'm cross and fed up!!
Second the inability to give yummy treats at the moment...pup has had loose stools for about a week. (foul picking those up with a poop bag!!)

slinkyboo Thu 04-Aug-11 20:08:15

Ps my pup is 5 months old.

minimu11 Thu 04-Aug-11 20:28:22

Okay there is one really important thing to remember about recall: you are recalling the dog to something more exciting not stopping the fun they are having.

You must always have high quality rewards : this could be food if so never ever use kibble but use sausage, cheese, chicken, livercake etc. If a toy make it a really special toy that the dog does not have access to all the time.

The reward for recall needs to be higher value than what you are recalling from.

Do not recall if you cannot give 100% attention to the dog when it does recall.
Do not recall if the distraction is too much for the puppy (unless you have done a lot of distraction training – more on that later)

So imagine the scenario you are having a glass of wine and a chat with a friend and you are called in to do the ironing, or you are doing the ironing and called over to have a glass of wine and chocolate – which scenario would you prefer. It is the same for the dog.

When you do recall do not put on the lead everytime or do not only recall at the end of the walk, or when something fun is happening eg playing with other dogs.

When you do recall have a word/whistle you use each time (I do not use the dogs name but up to you) then run away from the dog still calling and when the dog gets to you go ballistic with praise treats /toys. You need at this point to give 100% attention to the dog and the dog only. Let the dog go off and play and then do the same again. Sometimes the reward for coming may be to let your dog go off and play with other dogs.

Vary your reward but it must be high value.
Never ever tell a dog off once it has come to you however frustrated you are feeling.
Prevention is sometimes better than failing so if you know that the dog will not recall prevent them from running off or just go and get them without recall (easier said than done at times)
Distraction training.

In a quiet place build up the exciting things your dog can be recalled from.

Depends on the dog but start with sausage on the floor, have your dog on a lead and walk towards the sausage so the dogs sees it then leg it in the other direction calling the dog (they have to follow an when they do give loads and loads of little bits of sausage so the reward is greater than what they have been recalled from)

Build up the distraction maybe when children are playing, eating, riding bikes, eating ice creams, talking to other dogs etc.

If you recall has really gone to pot, get a new recall word and start again say the word click and treat. do not let the dog off until you get 90% success rate. I am very scientific about this and do calculate my successes to a behaviour before I move on or take it out and about.

Recall is also building on the relationship you have with the dog generally, make every experience with the dog fun, being around you needs to be positive and fun, the clicker is ideal for this.

You will constantly have to work on recall for all the dogs life – never take it for granted – but it is straightforward the dog is recalling to something more exciting than it was leaving!

Spamspamspam Thu 04-Aug-11 20:41:17

Kings can you take him out on the weekend somewhere different and with your DH? Woods etc

I find that because I walk on a huge round loop through woods or over common land my puppy has to stay with me so even if she runs off to another dog/family I keep walking, I don't go and get her and I don't call her too often and eventually she realises oh shit! mum is way out of site I need to go catch up with her. We also do lots of hiding behind trees, one walks much further up the path and we recall her to and from us.

I also like the idea of having a special walk only toy/ball. We have a very squeaky green ball that Maggie loves am thinking of keeping that for walks only, also I think Minimu suggested a rabbit fur tuggie, definately thinking of getting one of those for walks only. Also I know you aren't giving treats but when you do it needs to be really high value - can you consider making liver cake?

Spamspamspam Thu 04-Aug-11 20:41:32

sight not site!!

slinkyboo Thu 04-Aug-11 21:14:50

I've just bought a high-frequency whistle to try and stop my own high-pitched calling blush any thoughts on this? Should I combine with a clicker or am I becoming like Inspector Gadget??
Thanks for the detailed post, mini...lots of good advice. I find it hardest to stay jolly and breezy recalling my pup when I'm also trying to watch my DCs and pup is annoying some random family...

minimu11 Thu 04-Aug-11 21:28:40

No don't combine recall with a clicker stick with your whistle.

But the whistle alone will not reinforce the recall - it is the training done away from distractions that will ensure a good recall.

Maybe when out with dc's keep pup on lead as you cannot give 100% to the puppy.

Then go out with the puppy to train the recall

slinkyboo Thu 04-Aug-11 22:09:52

Again good advice. It'll be a relief to keep the two concepts separate - pleasant walk with the DCs and pup training!

Kingsroadie Fri 05-Aug-11 09:26:26

Thanks a lot Mimimu! Yes I understand that I need to recall him to something even more exciting than where he is (usually another dog) but I do that - I use toys and play with him, do recalls and rarely put him on the lead when he comes back (only if I need to go somewhere which is maybe once a park session - and I don't put him straight back on the lead - I always play first). I have been very conscious of not making him think that coming back to me is a bad thing. I have never told him off for coming back and I do always back/run away from him when I recall. and I use the whistle (and sometimes his name and command - come, as per training classes). He's perfect inside, and does follow me everywhere, waiting at the bottom of the stairs for me when I go upstairs and say stay (all right we do have a stairgate but he used to wiggle under it (quite high so our large cats can get under it) it's just outside that it gets a bit sticky! He just loves playing with (and humping.. ahem) other dogs - and it's v embarrassing when they don't want to play with him

Not sure I explained it that well -I do quite often manage to get and keep his attention if there is someone or another dog coming to prevent him from running off. I have been stopping on our walk to the park when another person/dog approaches and saying "look at me", holding his attention until they have passed and then treating and making a massive fuss of him.

If he is playing with another dog with whom it is fine to play then I don't usually try and recall him (so he doesn't always think I try and ruin his fun), although do occasionally and praise him massively then let him join in again so he knows it's a good thing to come back. But it's the dogs who don't want to play with him that I can't often get him to come back from - then it is obv v important as they are usually old etc. Also the problem I have is that my daughter might run one direction and the dog the other which means I have to get her then leg it over to the dog about 30m away and grab him. (I know it's my fault for having a puppy and a toddle but it is what it is unfortunately)

I think one thing I need to start doing is taking REALLY high value treats, not just nice dog treats - like human food. Th problem is he does seem to have a bit of a sensitive tummy and too many even tiny rich treats can give him the squits which is of course unpleasant for all involved...grin. I do also have a frisbee and a training dummy which I only use in the park but although he does really like them they are nothing especially amazing for him.

He still jumps up at children if they have a stick or food in their hands - how can I train that out of him?! (Am scared to try off lead training with those distractions as he pays little attention to me and just jumps all over them). He v rarely jumps at me or my husband or other adults as I tell them to turn away and he sits back immediately. But with kids it's impossible and my daughter can't do it yet. Any tips on that?!

Spam - yes we need to get ourselves to Richmond park more regularly at the weekend and practice there - it's just life gets in the way doesn't it sometimes? We're off to the country this weekend so will be able to do some practice recalls in the countryside! We do recall between us in the park at the weekends but obv need to do more! OOh rabbit fur - bet he'd love that - thanks.

Slinky - sorry you're in the same situation!

Thank you everyone and sorry for massive essay!

Kingsroadie Fri 05-Aug-11 11:37:33

Well, there was certainly an improvement using cheese and sausage.... A spaniel, food motivated?! Never... grin

Jennytailia Fri 05-Aug-11 13:53:47

My pup is 5 months old and about 90% reliable to recall with a whistle.

I practise on every walk, but could I be practising too much, I usually do it about 5-6 times per walk and am
Wondering if this is too much and it is de-sensitising her?? I usually on do it when I'm
Sure she will cone back but the few times I have tried to recall her when she is distracted, it has been 50/50

alp Fri 05-Aug-11 14:23:41

Great thread Kings! And some great advice!

It was recall in puppy training last night - I can safely say I am not more exciting than 5 other dogs waiting to run about!

slinkyboo Fri 05-Aug-11 17:33:13

Yes to great thread.
And it all fell massively flat for me today sad blush
Morning walk up mountain (we took the cable car, not literally walked up) and it was very quiet so I did lots of recall with little pieces of smoked ham - all good. So, after lunch we go to lake to swim. Pup off lead and fetching ball, swimming etc. THEN - he catches sight of a couple of dogs up the beach and he's off. I'm yelling, yelling, calling excitedly etc and HE COMPLETELY IGNORED ME. did not glance over once. He then ran wildly about, on other peoples towels etc. I was mortified. I finally caught him but only with one final 'come!!!' in the most excited fake voice I could muster. Then he was tied to a tree the rest of the time, whining sadsad both my DCs were in the water and it was only because my mother was with us that I could chase after pup at all. (as minimu said, pup on lead if I'm with DCs on my own).
Before we left I took him to the beach on the lead for a little while . He was just desperate to get away and play.
What do I do? Feeling v disheartened. Feel free to speak harshly to me grin

minimu11 Fri 05-Aug-11 18:14:49

ok ready to be spoken to harshly Slinkyboo smile

He is only a baby you are expecting way too much of him at the moment. Look at what he was great at, swimming and recall and fetching ball excellent a really good start.

I would not have even attempted a recall away from the dogs (I would have prevented him from running off in the first place smug dog trainer who never makes mistakes not!!!).

But the mistake you did do was to tie him to the tree after he came back to you. He did come back after all (eventually) so deserved a huge treat.

Alp your training class should know better and help you to be more interesting that 5 other dogs - keep at it - it will come

Jenny if you reward every time they come back and make it the best thing ever no you are not recalling too much.

Kinsg food motivated spaniel yaaay well done!

alp Fri 05-Aug-11 18:59:43

Slinky! A swimming pup - how great! With that level of excitement I'm surprised pup did anything apart from running (and swimming) thinking he's in puppy heaven! wink

We did some recall today with a long line on and she did really well - we also brought out the sausage so that helps!

slinkyboo Fri 05-Aug-11 19:08:14

Ooh alp (we are in the alps at the moment smile please tell me about long lines. Would one have worked today? Is it just a long length of rope - and how long?

Yes he loves swimming smile he has a good dollop of Labrador in him (in his heinz 57 mix) which is why, I think!

alp Fri 05-Aug-11 20:47:07

In the Alps - how lovely! Plain old Berkshire here!

Long lines are just a really long lead - the one I got is 10metres. It has a handle loop so is easy to hang on to. When we've been in woods we have been using a 4m piece of rope which drags behind her which has been really good so far but when faced with a big open field, picnics, kids play area, cafe, ice creams etc I felt something a bit more substantial might be in order!

Kingsroadie Sun 07-Aug-11 19:51:25

Hi everyone - been away for the weekend - sorry!

His recall was better with high value treats but still needs lots of work. I have ordered a sheepskin toy and a rabbit fur toy as he loves real fur/sheepskin and hopefully using those only in the park will help too.

Minimu - have you got any suggestions re him jumping up as per my earlier post? He is okay with us - well he usually jumps up to say hello but we (and adults generally) can turn away and he immediately sits and stares up at us wagging his tail frantically! BUT with children it's not possible to do that and if they have food or sticks it's a total disaster - how on earth do I train him not to do that?! He jumps at my toddler and I usually yelp or pick her up and walk away or put him in his playpen for time out etc. In the park I am on tenterhooks in case he jumps up at children even without anything in their hands and/or steals their food. Help meeeeeee! grin

I have read in my books that jumping up is actually a submissive/excited behaviour?

He was great this weekend - we were away and he wanted to be with me all the time so we had him tied up and he did settle down very well for fairly long periods of time!

Thanks so much for all the help and advice!

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