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Collie's recall has gone to pot and he keeps circling me, help please

(22 Posts)
airforsharon Thu 09-Mar-17 10:24:44

Hi, I've got a 20 month old border collie, lovely dog, very affectionate and generally well trained. However over the past few months he's taken to refusing to come back to me when he's playing off lead - he'll return to maybe 4 or 5 feet away and then just keeps bloody circling me. I've tried feigning disinterest and slowly walking off - he'll follow but stays just far enough away that I can't get hold of him.

He loves food and I use various treats but he'll ignore them - and the rattle of the treat tin which normally gets him running - if he decides he's not coming back. The last couple of times he's done it, it's been the lucky chance that a friend has come along with her dogs, he's gone up to her to say hello and she's caught him for me.

I let him off lead in nearby fields - no livestock etc - so it's a 'safe' area but it's infuriating and I can't understand why he's regressed like this. He's my constant shadow around the house so I don't think he's actually trying to lose me grin Does anyone have any advice please? I'm hoping to start agility with him in the next few weeks which might help (or if he keeps this up we'll get drummed out of the class).

LilCamper Thu 09-Mar-17 10:39:41

Does putting the lead on him mean it is the end of the walk and time to go home every time you do it?

airforsharon Thu 09-Mar-17 11:51:40

Hello, no - he chases/picks up/brings back a ball, which i then throw again. Every time he brings it back i call him to me, gently take hold of his collar, give treat then throw the ball again. The trainer we've had classes with recommended that method there's no signal from me when we're about to go home - he's expected to come back to me every time. It worked brilliantly for several months but now no. Usual 'thing' is he'll come back to me maybe 3 or 4 times then decide he won't any more, and the circling starts.

LilCamper Thu 09-Mar-17 12:34:05

Try higher value rewards?

tabulahrasa Thu 09-Mar-17 13:24:43

Have you tried a longline? That way the first time he decides recall is optional, you can reel him in.

Also, instead of just carrying on walking - you can randomly try running off in the opposite direction, that quite often makes them go, hey, what? And run after you - then they forget they were taking the piss and you can grab them.

I'd also try higher value rewards - IME the really high value ones wouldn't rattle in a tin, so it might be a case of trying different things.

Oh and as for why, because he's a collie and he's far too blooming clever for his own good and he can,probably, lol

Wishiwasmoiradingle2017 Thu 09-Mar-17 13:27:56

Ah bless he thinks you are a sheep!
Sorry no advice..

Floralnomad Thu 09-Mar-17 14:45:15

Mine used to do this ( patterdale X) , I taught him a very solid down command so if I want him to stop I just shout down and he drops and waits for me - might be worth a try . Also always take extra balls if he's interested in balls as that's another way of attracting their attention if mine has 2 balls he can't ever choose which one so he stays put playing with them both - he's a bit stupid .

Mamia15 Thu 09-Mar-17 14:49:06

The circling is a collie trait. Teach him some different commands - stay/stop/down/sit so that you can get hold of him more easily when required.

airforsharon Thu 09-Mar-17 15:40:15

tabulahrasa I did use a long line when he was around 10 months/1 yr old - I gave it up as he (at the time) was found of suddenly sprinting off like his arse was on fire if he saw something that took his fancy and it was too painful/nigh on impossible to hold him. I might try again though - a friend did suggest knotting it in various places to give me more grip, now he's generally calmer it might do the trick.

I need to work on 'down' as a command I think yes - he sits to order no problem, but it is just that bit easier to sprint off from a sit than a down. He also does 'wait', but seems to hear it as 'wait if you want to and for as long as you like' hmm 'Down' has proved tricky because like many Collie's he instinctively drops into a down rather than sit, so before I've had a chance to say it, he's done it.....

Higher value rewards/different toys is a good idea too - i'm doing puppy training classes with DDog 3, a woman at this weeks class had whitebait for her dog, which she described as 'doggy crack'.

Wishiwas I feel like a blooming sheep, standing there while he prances full of the joys grin

airforsharon Thu 09-Mar-17 15:43:50

.........I haven't tried running off rather than walking away no, but I will give that a go.

Djangor Thu 09-Mar-17 15:56:13

My collie did this at 2 years old. Eventually realised she was testing me for dominance. She knew when the end of a walk was approaching & would not come close enough to let me put on her on the lead. Drove me bananas & sometimes I had to ask a complete stranger to hold on to her as she'd happily go up to them. I fixed it by putting her on the lead earlier on - i.e. 10mins or so before the end of the walk. She was happy to respond to the recall then. Did this for quite a few months & during this time she just got over her battles with me & accepted I was dominant.

yecartmannew Thu 09-Mar-17 16:20:20

As long as he on a harness NEVER DO THIS WITH A COLLAR clip a line that is about 6 to 8 ft long and just let him go as normal.

It won't bother him at all to trail the line behind him, but crucially when he comes in range you just stand on the line, BEFORE you ask him to come to you. He can't get away then and if he doesn't come you can then reel him in.

tabulahrasa Thu 09-Mar-17 17:13:51

Yep harness only for long line...and you want knots in it, so you can jump on it and you're standing on it, then use your hands to reel him in.

Mamia15 Thu 09-Mar-17 17:13:56

Agree re using harnesses with long lines.

The dominant theory is a load of crap though. She was either testing your boundaries (typical teenage behaviour) or confused about what she was supposed to do. They can also tell from your cues/body language when a walk is at an end and therefore may play silly buggers to avoid ending the walk....

airforsharon Thu 09-Mar-17 20:21:06

yy to using a harness, I've got Julius K9 harnesses for all the hounds, the grab handle on them is really useful. Given the way he used to fly off on the longline before, I hate to think what the effect on his neck would've been if it had been attached to his collar. Yikes.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Thu 09-Mar-17 20:55:56

They do hit the teenage phase at about that age. Go back to basics and double up your training efforts and you'll soon be back to normal. And please do ignore the dominance theory bollocks.

picklemepopcorn Thu 09-Mar-17 21:23:18

I was about to mention teenage regression. Sometimes my boy plays silly buggers and just gets kept on his lead for that walk. I give him a couple more tries, but if he's being a twit he has an on lead walk. Most likely to happen on windy days, but sometimes there is no visible reason, he just has a daft day.

airforsharon Fri 10-Mar-17 09:23:53

Ah that's interesting, I've wondered whether it's a 'teenage' thing. He was so good for about 4 months, then when he hit about 17/q8 months old it all started going downhill again.

Fwiw I've never felt he's trying to dominate, more that he's just trying to stay off lead as long as possible. The daft chump hasn't twigged that once he starts circling and ignoring calls to come back it's game over from my pov and as soon as I can catch him, we go home. So sometimes he's actually getting less time out than i'd planned.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Sun 12-Mar-17 00:29:52

He might have twigged though that as soon as you get him on a lead you go home. You might be inadvertently making it worse, although I don't know what else to suggest.

Noitsnotteatimeyet Sun 12-Mar-17 10:50:39

You need to disassociate the lead going on with fun ending so when you're on a walk, randomly call him to you, reward him handsomely, clip on his lead, walk on for a bit and then let him off again.

Do that several times during a walk - you may need to have him on a longline and harness for a while, but clip his normal lead on as well - and eventually he'll stop seeing going on the lead as the signal that the fun stops here

leighdinglady Sun 12-Mar-17 13:49:32

Just let him run around dangling a long line behind him. That way you can step on the line when he's close enough. Reel him in and big treats! When ours hit puppy puberty this is how we trained him. He's now perfect recall at 14 months

airforsharon Sat 18-Mar-17 06:35:19

Thanks for all the advice everyone. I'm trying out the long line again, and have found he goes bonkers for chipolatas, so they're now the treat of choice for recall grin and so far, so good.

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