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Is it time to give up on off lead recalls?

(23 Posts)
Dancingyogi Sun 30-Nov-14 08:50:24

My whippet is now six months old. He is obsessively driven by other dogs, chasing, racing etc nothing can compete! Not the best treats even when hungry, no toys....even the whistle gets ignored. I have been working with him on walks around the park for 2 hours a day on a long line, training interactions with other dogs when we can. We attend training sessions twice a week, his recall is great until another dog appears and then he develops deaf ears until the other dog stops moving.

I've been working so hard with him and I'm feeling quite disheartened and to an extent I think I may be asking too much of him, I'm fighting off the notion that I should just resolve myself to walking on lead, I'm losing hope that he will ever recall when faced with a running dog.

HerrenaHarridan Sun 30-Nov-14 09:19:30

Is he aggressive with the the other dogs?

Tbh I don't recall my dog from other dogs unless necessary (other dog on lead, muzzled or owner worried)

When I do recall her I just give a prolonged call 'doooogyyyy' and either stand still or turn an walk in the other direction.

Other than that I let her use me dog manner to approach other dogs.

So she goes bounding up to them until she a could of meters away, then lays down and watches, runs a bit closer, play bows and then goes for it.

The only time I have a problem with her and other dogs is when she's getting clear signals from the dog it wants to play and im getting clear signal from the owner that they don't want them to play.

But what do I know last time I posted on the dog board I got ripped into my someone who thinks discipline can be entirely replaced by positive reinforcement.
I'm sure my terrible dog parenting is to blame for having what everyone who has met her describes as the best behaved dog they've ever met.

She a whippet cross, off lead except when in the city. She's a wee star. Her biggest fault is a tendency to destroy clothes pegs if she finds them on the floor

basildonbond Sun 30-Nov-14 09:58:56

At 6 months old he's still a baby - I think it's a bit early to decide he'll never be able to go off-lead ...

You might find you get better results by doing a little less walking (2 hours a day is an enormous amount for a 6 month old puppy) and a lot more training - little sessions interspersed throughout the day, not just recall, but tricks etc to increase the bond he has with you

Dancingyogi Sun 30-Nov-14 10:31:19

Firstly the 2 hours are split into 2 sessions, when I say walking in the park - it's more like hanging on in the back garden, so he's not always walking or running, I really mix it up...we do his training at the park in between him sniffing around and watching stuff, sitting patiently while I chat with someone.

Dancingyogi Sun 30-Nov-14 10:37:09

I didn't think he was dog agressive till a training session on Saturday, when he was practicing side by side recall with another dog - he rolled the other dog and there was a bit of now I'm not so sure. Is that prey drive aggression? He certainly isn't aggressive on a normal nose smelling greet.

Aked Sun 30-Nov-14 12:56:44

I also think he is very young to decide that he will never get recall. He has years of training ahead of him.

Try reading Total Recall by Pippa Mattinson as well, which has some great tips. You need to follproof your recall in 'safe' places and situations before you can expect him to come away from other more excitable things smile

Aked Sun 30-Nov-14 12:57:13


Aked Sun 30-Nov-14 13:00:43

Also my dog would make all those noises when she was younger. I tried to make sure she met as many other dogs as possible in controlled situations, as advised by our trainer as I was worried she was going to be dog aggressive. These days she never shows an ounce of aggression to any other dog, and will run from any dog who gives her "go away" body language. Not sure how much of that was to do with what we did, and how much was just that she grew out of it as she learnt about body language with her own species herself!

muttynutty Sun 30-Nov-14 13:01:07

HerrenaHarridan I dont want to cause offence but if your dog approached any of my dogs in the way your described and you were unable to recall I would not describe her as well behaved.

Dogs should not approach unknown dogs - they should waited to be invited to play for their safety and that of the other dog.

pigsDOfly Sun 30-Nov-14 13:14:33

Don't know what age whippets hit adolescence but could that be what's going on with your dog? The snarling and rolling may be him just testing his power and boundaries.

Six months is way too young to be giving up on any sort of training; you've only just started and it's a life long process.

My dog was fine with recall until about 8 months old and then it all went to pot and she ended up on a long trailing lead for many months when in the park. It took me a long time to feel confident enough to take it off.

Don't despair, there where many times when I was nearly in tears with recall, but she has a good reliable recall now at 3.5 year old and it's been that way for most of her life.

Find some really high value treats that your dog will be unable to resist - it was chicken liver treats for my dog - and keep them just for getting him back to you and on the lead. I was told to call my dog back to me several times during a walk so I could clip on the lead and then take it off again so she wouldn't associate me calling her with going home and all the fun ending.

And when you're out in the park make yourself the most interesting thing there. It doesn't matter if you look like a loon as you bounce around calling your dog in an excited tail wagging voice. You need to make him want to come back to you.

Oh and as pp has said, don't call him back when he's playing with another dog, at this stage that's a battle you're not going to win.

And lastly, good luck.

Dancingyogi Sun 30-Nov-14 13:15:48

We have tried Total Recall but it started to fail when reverting to recalls within the house. I continue to practice outside but it's very difficult to set up gradual distractions on a daily basis for training. His prey drive seems super high. He attempts to run every time another dog is recalled at training classes.
I just wonder at what point I stop trying to get him to do something he is so programmed to do and that's chase his little heart out!

tabulahrasa Sun 30-Nov-14 13:30:03

He's a puppy - it's way way too soon to think you can't train recall around dogs, honestly, it really is.

Aked Sun 30-Nov-14 14:02:55

The above article may help too.

Dancingyogi Sun 30-Nov-14 14:10:19

Ok ok ok! We'll keep going!! grin As long as there a chance things could improve - it can be so disheartening to put in a huge amount of effort and get so very little back. He's really quite good at so many other commands. I wonder if a distant stay would work?

JustMe1990 Sun 30-Nov-14 14:16:06

I have no real advice with regards to recall, but I would urge you please not to let your pup 'chase' after other dogs.
Keep him leashed or long lined until he's reliable.

Even if he isn't being 'aggressive' ambushing and chasing after another dog can be very threatening and upsetting for the other dog.

Believe me, speaking from the other side, there are few things more upsetting than having to watch your usually confident pet scream in terror trying to hide behind you while an over excited dog insists on chasing after them sad

Dancingyogi Sun 30-Nov-14 14:28:21

Just my dog is always on either a long line or a short lead when in the park. His experience of rolling other dog took place at a training class and was very unexpected. No doubt he'll be paired the next time with a larger stronger breed.

Dancingyogi Sun 30-Nov-14 14:39:28

Interesting article and I got really quite excited that it was going to help until they started focusing on a ball as the solution. My dog finds chasing a ball interesting only occasionally. Do it more than twice and he just gets bored and doesn't see the point. Or do it more than two days running and he doesn't see the point. His interest in balls or any other toy is fleeting and unreliable - even toys that are reserved for training only. I know balls are great for lots of dogs but not mine.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Sun 30-Nov-14 14:42:02

It can take up to two years for a dog to fully mature and settle down. I'd just keep to the long line and persevere with the training where it feels safe for the time being.

Please don't be disheartened. You've a long way to go as yet and six months really is still just a baby. Give it another year of training and see how you feel then. Just make sure you're consistent with your training and don't let him off until you're fairly confident yourself.

And please don't let him off to chase other dogs. Not only might he upset other dogs, he's quite likely to get injured himself if he approaches a dog who can't get away because it's on the lead so resorts to defence instead.

JustMe1990 Sun 30-Nov-14 14:49:55

What about training him for lure coursing?
Maybe if he had an appropriate outlet for his instinct to chase it would be easier to teach him that's it's inappropriate around other dogs?

LoathsomeDrab Sun 30-Nov-14 15:19:02

I didn't think he was dog agressive till a training session on Saturday, when he was practicing side by side recall with another dog - he rolled the other dog and there was a bit of now I'm not so sure. Is that prey drive aggression?

That sounds like typical whippet playing to me. I've got three and that's how they play, they "course" each other and the winner is the one who manages to roll the other one. It's not aggression it's just what they do!!

However, many dogs really don't appreciate the whippet play style. Not so much the chasing but the rolling. It's something that can easily provoke an (understandably) annoyed response from the dog getting rolled.

I think JustMe1990 may be right, that an appropriate outlet for the behaviour might help. My three have each other an as outlet so as long as they've had a good run with each other they can be of lead with strange dogs in the distance and ignore them but I never, ever allow off lead interaction with strange dogs. Even when we meet fellow sighthounds who'd love a good game of chase and roll. It's something that can easily get out of control if the dogs aren't used to each other and don't respect each others' cues.

With regards to toys on walks you might find something like this will get more of a response than a ball. If you hold it vertically then throw it you can roll it along the ground. Mine love to chase and catch theirs and since starting to play with that (they've previously not been that into toys out on walks) they've also started playing with balls as well.

Definitely don't give up yet!!

ExitPursuedByABear Sun 30-Nov-14 15:20:24

He us very young. My springer didn't perfect his recall until about 18 months.

Dancingyogi Sun 30-Nov-14 15:32:35

He's fairly calm around stationary dogs now, training has improved this a lot, so dogs on leads are less interesting, it's the moving, running off lead dogs that hold his interest. I have no intention of allowing him to chase other dogs, I'm not that kind of owner!

Dancingyogi Sun 30-Nov-14 15:39:52

We have a vinyl ring, a squeaky ball which he loves but not enough on walks, a ball on a string which he loves occassionally, a doggie frisbee gets excited by this occasionally in the back garden - honestly we have tried!
Lure coursing is an interesting idea but we have nothing close enough.

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