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Teaching recall - bloody ^how^??

(40 Posts)
KoalaDownUnder Tue 07-Feb-17 09:26:30

I've posted about this before, but am currently at end of my tether.

My 4-year-old lurcher's recall is shit. She comes when she feels like it, but if she doesn't - she really doesn't.

We live right near a dog beach and multiple dog parks. She is missing out because she's just too unpredictable: e.g. chases people while they're swimming. Obviously really not okay.

I've tried the long-line reward-based training (increase length of line, reward dog for coming, etc). She doesn't bloody go anywhere! If she's on a long line, she just sort of wanders around following me and looking at me. If I unclip the line, she takes off like a rocket.

I've tried taking her to parks and beaches on a long lead. It doesn't work and is dangerous. She nearly rips my fingers off if she decides to chase something. Lead gets tangled. I get pulled over in the water. Etc.

I've paid for classes and for individual training. I can't afford to throw any more $$ at this right now.

Can anyone who's had a similar problem suggest anything? Clicker training? Techniques I can learn online? I'm willing to put in the hours.

Sorry for long post and thanks in advance!

Deadnettle Tue 07-Feb-17 09:30:56

There is a book called Total Recall by Pippa Mattinson that is supposed to be very good.

Hopefully someone will be along to give you some advice.

KoalaDownUnder Tue 07-Feb-17 09:33:31

Thank you! (*runs to google*)

She really is astonishingly stubborn. The fact that she is big and fast (greyhound x) makes it so much more difficult.

rumblingDMexploitingbstds Tue 07-Feb-17 09:34:33

Love Pippa Mattinson's book!

Worked brilliantly for me with my batty cocker. grin

CalmItKermitt Tue 07-Feb-17 09:35:55

Total Recall is fab but you may have to manage your expectations (as well as the dog) when it comes to a sighthound!

PS hope you use a harness with a long line?

PickledLilly Tue 07-Feb-17 09:39:02

Is she food motivated? Sausage and cheese are the go to treats if you want a dog to actually listen to you, boring biscuits aren't going to make you more interesting than another dog! Doesn't work if you've got a dog who isn't interested in food though <glares at idiot untrainable dog>

KoalaDownUnder Tue 07-Feb-17 09:39:07

Calm, yes, absolutely (to both!)

I don't expect bulletproof recall but this level of unpredictability is a nightmare. She absolutely adores the beach but we don't go often.

I use a Sporn harness with the long lead, or she'd have garrotted herself by now!

KoalaDownUnder Tue 07-Feb-17 09:40:48

Pickled - not terribly. I use high-value treats for training (fresh chicken, cheese, liver). But her interests kind of go:

Other dogs


CMOTDibbler Tue 07-Feb-17 09:44:35

Hire a secure field or indoor riding school (often sighthound owners get together to split the cost) and then use a whistle and amazing, high value treats - pouches of wet food, lumps of hot chicken, sausages, sprats. Whatever is going to be better than not coming back.
Then reinforce that behaviour every day in the house/garden. You whistle, she comes, fabulous things happen. Rinse, repeat

Spudlet Tue 07-Feb-17 09:44:43

What does she want? Is she motivated by food, play, cuddles? The chase?

Total Recall is good (I agree about expectation management mind you). I would try a whistle (introduced as per the book) as it will always sound the same, unlike the voice which betrays stress and is easier to tune out.

Primula cheese is excellent for foodies, or you could try a rabbit skin as a toy? Or a ball flinger to give something to chase?

KoalaDownUnder Tue 07-Feb-17 09:49:39

What does she want? Is she motivated by food, play, cuddles? The chase?

Play and chase. Loves, loves, loves it.

KoalaDownUnder Tue 07-Feb-17 09:51:38

Hire a secure field

Will look into this, but have never seen or heard of such a thing round here (Aus).

Trying to train recall at the public parks is fraught as there are always other dogs bounding up, etc. Also, they're not enclosed.

KoalaDownUnder Tue 07-Feb-17 09:52:03

Clicker or whistle better?

CMOTDibbler Tue 07-Feb-17 10:09:33

Whistles - clickers are supposed to 'bridge' the behaviour (ie, indicate they have succeeded/ completed it). Whistles say 'here, now'. I buy gundog whistles so I have lots that sound exactly the same.

If she likes the play, then look into agility tuggy toys, or squeaky kong wubbas. Something she only gets to play with when she's recalled - and be strict about it only being then

BlueKarou Tue 07-Feb-17 10:14:19

Not a single word of advice, I'm afraid. My almost-2-year-old lurcher is only allowed off lead in two fenced paddocks and that's because he knocked his back against a fence when he was younger and that seems to have taught him a healthy wariness of fences - I dread the day he realises he can actually jump that high.

Have now got Total Recall on my wishlist, so will get my teeth into that (unless BlueDog2 gets his teeth into it first!)

BiteyShark Tue 07-Feb-17 10:20:07

I am training my puppy to recall at the moment. Using a whistle and a high value treat I only use for recall.

Make sure you recall when fairly close by and give the treat and send them off again e.g. Don't just recall to put lead on or they will associate it with end of play etc.

I only do off lead and recall when no other dogs about and will not let him go too far away from me otherwise distractions will be more attractive than my treats. Can you find anywhere that is quiet or maybe really early in morning to train?

Char22thom Tue 07-Feb-17 10:26:11

I second going somewhere there are no distractions or as few as possible!! This time of year most places are deserted if weather a bit iffy!!

CalmItKermitt Tue 07-Feb-17 10:26:37

Whistle is more "ear catching" and always sounds the same - no emotion in the sound so less likelihood that the dog will think (well they don't think like this but you know what I mean) "Hmm she sounds different - bit pissed off - maybe I won't go back..."

A clicker is different - it doesn't tell the dog to do anything - it tells the dog that what it was doing when it heard the click has earned a reward/reinforcement.

CalmItKermitt Tue 07-Feb-17 10:34:40

I had a lurcher years ago btw so I totally get the chase thing.

I've also got a chasey Collie. Teaching her that the sight of another dog/kids playing football etc is a cue to play tuggie with me means that seeing those triggers causes her to bounce expectantly round me.

If you can get your dog enthusiastic about toys that'll really help. Also look into playing with a flirt pole (mine is a horse lunge whip with a fluffy toy tied to the end). Trying to suppress a hard-wired behaviour like chase is like trying to hold a balloon under water - it'll always make its way to the surface. However providing an acceptable outlet - both as an alternate behaviour AND as a reward for other stuff will help.

Clg199 Tue 07-Feb-17 10:42:17

We managed to 'train' our intellectually-challenged greyhound. It took a while but he was pretty reliable in the end. He learned more by osmosis than a strict training schedule, but as a lurcher yours may be better placed to learn.

I had a couple of pieces of advice that really helped. Set yourself up for success by making sure you are the most exciting thing around while training - we did hundreds of repeats in our back garden before even trying to go anywhere more exciting. Once it gets ingrained you can try slightly more exciting places but until then we kept him onlead elsewhere or they just get used to ignoring you. Once we had the whistle established we used it to call him for his dinner (although he was always there at the first rustle of a food bag so it wasn't really necessary). Greyhounds and lurchers tend to be very nosey - I always had a backup bag in my pocket with something really exciting in it, if the whistle hadn't worked, an excited 'what's this?' while rustling in my pocket did the trick. If he's into playing would a special toy in your pocket do the same thing?

I'm sure there's a way, as well as being nosey and stubborn lurchers tend to be quite clever so hopefully you can tap into his weak spot. Good luck.

Spudlet Tue 07-Feb-17 10:42:55

The whistle is your 'come back' signal. The clicker is your 'good job' signal. So it's not one or the other.

If you go the whistle route, get a proper gundog one. Doesn't matter which pitch, but it means if you lose it you can replace it with an identical sounding one. Like so:

It sounds like a really fun game will be your reward over food. Try taking two balls out so you always retain one to fling.

Spudlet Tue 07-Feb-17 10:44:06

Also, try running away yourself, preferably making as much noise as possible. I advise doing this in a deserted area as having the men in white coats summoned often offends grin

Ilovecaindingle Tue 07-Feb-17 10:45:24

Now then. . I have a lovely lurcher with fab recall looking for a home. . Maybe he would be a good influence on yours?? grin
(Grins hopefully)

CalmItKermitt Tue 07-Feb-17 10:57:13

My whistle is an Acme 210.5 I think.

Spudlet is correct and makes a good point about running off (yourself). There are loads of games you can introduce to help recall.

Call dog - the second he turns to you throw a toy/ball behind you, then race the dog to it.

Have a toy on you, or food - call dog- when he gets halfway to you, turn and leg it. When he gets to you, feed/throw ball/have a game.

Restrained recalls - get DH/friend to hold dog while you run away. Call dog. DH/friend releases dog.

If chase is what he loves, get him chasing you! 😄

Cantbeatatryer Tue 07-Feb-17 11:54:39

I had a dog that normally has a good recall and then all of a sudden it's just gone. Plus dh walks him more now he's older and he's not as consistent so that doesn't help. Posters above have given brilliant advise. Sometimes I call him and walk in another direction and that totally throws him. I always have high value treats but have to change them often. Plus it's something to constantly work on. Even when no distractions about. It got to the point where if I called my boy he would instantly look around to see who was about and weigh up the more interesting person to go to which sometimes was me and sometimes wasn't. I now recall randomly a lot and it's got a bit better.

Good luck! It's hard work smile

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