What to do with our lab?(81 Posts)
Our beautiful 4 year old dog is absolutely perfect except for two problems. He likes to run away and he won't come back. This is starting to cause a serious issue in that he has now got a taste for chasing the neighbour's sheep. Yesterday was a bit of a disaster in that he managed to slip his collar (which he will do at any opportunity) and chased them again. The neighbour was rightly furious, even though dog doesn't hurt them, he does just chase them. We had got to the point yesterday where the neighbour was wandering around with his gun trying to shoot him in front of my DC. I do know the law (I am a lawyer and DH is a farmer) so know he would be within his rights technically but my biggest concern is to try and stop this happening again. Obviously DC and I are deeply distressed by yesterday.
We are his third home and I believe that this is why he has been rehomed so many times. We have had him for a year and worked so hard on recall training but nothing seems to work. Sometimes we have to leave him loose in the garden because he won't come inor be caught. Despite being a Labrador, he doesn't seem motivated by treats, in that he would rather be in the garden than get a treat. It is a problem if anyone leaves the gate open (postman, delivery drivers) and even Ocado have him on their sheet as a "runner".
My in laws think we should have him destroyed, as rehoming him will pass the problem on to someone else. He wasn't well treated in his last home,and this could happen again as you cannot trust him if you take him out. Yesterday was not a one off, we have had incidents all year, and we are desperate for a solution. In all other ways he is the most wonderful dog, fantastic with the DC and with an adorable temperament. He just doesn't listen once he has gone. Only people who dont know him can catch him.
Gosh that sounds really hard. You could try a behaviourist but his behaviour sounds ingrained. Poor dog (and poor you). I disagree with your mum though as his new hone needn't be on a farm of near sheep. I can't help if rehoming would be the answer. Try labrador rescue. This is not a case of you giving up on him. Short of keeping him locked in all day (cruel) i can't see many other options.
Have you tried keeping him on a longline all the time, in the house/garden/on walks etc. Then he never gets the chance to disobey as you can always make him come back.
We have a dog who likes to chase bikes and joggers so we're working hard on that. One of the things we do at the moment is to never throw anything for him so he doesn't get the endorphin hit from chasing. I bought a 30m length of climbing rope split into two and then attached a carabiner to the end. It is light and attaches to his harness, he does occasionally get tangled but not very often.
Harness rather than collar would make it harder to wriggle out, and agree with the suggestion of a longline while you exercise him and practice recall.
Fwiw, I know a number of dogs (beagles and a husky) who are never let off lead (though they do get lots of appropriate exercise) because they run away.
Make the garden secure ,if necessary fencing a bit off so that if the gate does get left open the dog cannot get to it . Keep the dog on a longline attached to a harness when out - problem solved .
We haven't got a harness for him but if we are to keep him then I think we must have one. We wondered about a freedom fence but we know two people who paid for them but the dogs kept on escaping.
It is very ingrained behaviour, he just will not listen to anything once he is gone. And he will do anything to go, too!
NCIS, how does the lead work in the house? Does he not get caught on everything?
The garden is secure, we look like the flaming deer park as we now have fencing up to 8 feet all round! Will definitely think about leaving him a smaller area though.
We had a lab like that. We tried to build secure fences but he always found a way out. He couldn't be caught once he escaped unless he was offered a comfortable seat in the car. We ended up putting him on a long line - it was really sad, lovely dog just loved the chase.
Please tell me the freedom fence is not one of those things that gives your dog an electric shock when it tries to cross the boundary?
No he doesn't, not a lab though, a border collie. Very occasionally gets wound round something. Obviously I take it off if I'm out or at night time.
Definitely get a harness, any good training classes in your area?
My trainer has made a huge difference to how I deal with the issue and I now happily walk him without being constantly on edge. Mine is only just one though so still a puppy really.
If you're based anywhere near Surrey/Hampshire I can highly recommend my trainer.
If he has form for backing out of a collar I would seriously consider investing in a Ruffwear Webmaster harness as they are extremely difficult to escape from. That or a Dog Games perfect fit. Some pet store ones he will probably just duck right out of!
Dpup is a canine Houdini - the only harness he's not wriggled out of is the perfect fit harness
Our dog likes to chase things,
Not sheep yet but small animals and other dogs.
We just keep him on a long line and extendable lead when out where he might go off chasing.
When he isn't chasing he is an angel.
We got a behaviourist in but she really was no help what so ever
I'd say get a labrador expert in. Someone who understands the breed and can work with what does inspire him.
Roughly where are you OP?
I wonder if you can get him to associate a whistle with his food & any other treats. I just wonder (as well as what a behaviourist suggests) if the whistle would break in to his subcouncious brain more than shouting for him does?
My friends whose dog did this took him on his favourite walk along the riverside (so no roads or livestock) and actually just stopped and hid from the dog - in the end he did come back and look for them and he is now much better at not running so far ahead and coming back much more frequently.
I have 2 lab mixes, both have shocking recall and like to chase (and kill) things.
After several stressful events, a trip to the vet to seriously talk about having one of them put down, and a series of consultations with an animal behaviourist, I have now sadly come to the conclusion that the dogs can never be let off lead except in our secure garden. Which also resembles a deer park - we have spent thousands getting it secure, and they still occasionally escape - latterly through the smallest hole imaginable in the only section of fence that we hadn't replaced as it's 4 ft back in a hedge.
Our behaviourist advised against freedom fencing as she said dogs with such a strong chase instinct will simply run 'through' the shock and not even register it in their frenzy to chase. She has seen labs who have been so badly repeatedly shocked that the collar has burned them and fused to their necks.
I have now mastered the art of walking with 2 extendable leads and they seem happy enough. I just have to walk bloody miles to get them enough exercise.
Rehoming wasn't an option for me either as I couldn't just pass this problem on to someone else.
Sadly I think you have arrived at the same conclusion OP. I think the wriggling out of a collar should be fixable with the right harness.
Interestingly my friends dog is lab/border collie cross...
Is his issue exclusively to do with chasing?
I have a friend who has a Jack Russell who is 4 but was brought up on a sheep farm and was obsessed with sheep . . . but (with hard work - which it sounds like you're keen to do) it's been weaned out of him.
I've tried the hiding thing - it does work beautifully most of the time - but if there's a squirrel/rabbit/deer/pheasant anywhere in the vicinity, forget it.
Also the whistle - 95% great - but if I can't depend on it 100% then it's no good, she has to stay on the lead. Nothing is better than the chase - not me, not treats, not squeaky toys, not balls.
Even the behaviourist has concluded that she just has to stay on the lead
I had thought about gun dog training bootcamp but I think she may be too far gone - if she's got to the point of catching and killing prey then I don't think any gun dog trainer would consider taking her on, would they?
I would love to hear any other suggestions though.
A whistle is only as useful as your recall command, tbh. It is not a miracle cure. If they don't listen to your voice, they aren't going to listen to a whistle either.
Gundog training is almost entirely about outdoor obedience, and on that basis a good trainer will take on most dogs. As you're unlikely to want to actually work your dogs (I assume), it is fairly irrelevant that they chase and kill.
CQ what are your dogs mixed with?
Both are rescues so not sure. Worst one is (we think) mostly lab with a small amount of chow, at best guess. Other one is a complete Heinz 57, we only call her lab-mix as a way of putting a label on her, rather than a terrier type or some such. She's much more petite than a lab and a more pointy face, but smooth coated and about the size of a small lab.
Your Heinz sounds like a Patterdale mix ,which would also explain her poor recall ,many of them are dreadful - ours is pretty good but can still only go off lead in certain places where all the relevant risk assessments have been carried out .
Blimey have just looked up Patterdale terriers - some v close similarities there in the description of their character and traits. Interesting!
Especially this 'When outdoors he must always be kept on a leash or inside a secure area, as he will chase after anything that moves, and is very difficult to catch or call back once he gets going. He can dig under a fence to escape and chase animals; he is not a dog who can be left alone in a yard. He is quite challenging to train. '
Some comfort there then that it's not just me
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