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7 month old puppy and playing with other dogs/recall(20 Posts)
Hi. Hoping for some advice. Puppy is nearly 7 months and has been a delight: easy to train, great at night, no accidents for weeks etc etc. She is also my first dog and I feel a lot of the time that I don't know what I'm doing.
I have let her off lead when walking as often as possible and generally she's been great, and still is, but if there are other dogs around who want to play, she wants to play too (entirely understandable, really, she;s friendly and well socialised). She will either approach another dog, or wait for it to approach her. If the dog isn't playful, for whatever reason, she's usually happy to listen to me, and come with me. Until recently, if I got hold of her and waited for her to calm down and listen to me, she'd then come with me.
However, just recently, if the other dog will play, she just goes completely deaf, and I need to put her on a lead for a little while until that other dog is out of reach. Yesterday, having played with a dog at the start of our walk, which I was happy for her to do, as was it's owner, she spotted it, some 30 minutes later, in another part of the park about 3-400 yards away. She just hared over to it, just went in a heartbeat and had no intention of coming back.
I went to get her, calling, rattling treats, but I was totally ignored. The other owner was clearly fed up that her walk was delayed by waiting with her dog for me to get mine, and commented on her (lack of) recall. She suggested using my 'angry don't mess with me voice' (i find that doesn't encourage mine to come to me even when she is listening).
Part of me thinks, it's just a baby dog and that's life, but I don't want to walk her always on a lead (I put her on a trailing lead after that and she got it wrapped round a tree and had to be rescued) and if I'm honest, the way the other owner was, quite cross and not understanding, has really upset me. I don't like badly trained dogs and I don't want mine to wind others up.
Has anyone any ideas, or do I just need to get a grip and accept that this is what young dogs are like? We had some 1-2-1 training early on and maybe I should get some more to deal with this, but as things generally are going well, I am wondering if I'm being oversensitive and overthinking this.
Help please oh wise and experienced ones!
At 7 months your dog is probably in the stroppy teenage phase when they become deaf to all the training you have done.
Firstly think about how you have taught recall initially. I used a whistle for recall because I was told that no matter what you felt it does not convey any emotion unlike your voice so if you are fearful/annoyed etc it doesn't matter as the dog just hears the whistle and comes back.
Now for the hard bit. My dog went from 100% recall to 0% when he was a teenager. It was a shit time and what I did was start walking at times and in places where I could almost guarantee we would not run into other dogs and if we did I had enough warning that I could turn around to distract enough to get a lead on him. This meant we didn't piss off other dog owners with his shit recall.
The second thing I did was to try and make the walk more exciting and unpredictable. I would play hide and seek. I would keep turning and walking in the other direction so that rather than expecting me to follow him he had to keep an eye on me as I was suddenly unpredictable. I spent ages trying to be more exciting and eventually found things he preferred more to other dogs. Eventually with maturity and the fact that we found he started to become very interested in chasing and hunting balls the recall came back and we can now walk straight past other dogs and he won't leave my side as long as I have a ball in my hand.
You need to find what your dog values more than playing with other dogs.
Has anyone any ideas, or do I just need to get a grip and accept that this is what young dogs are like?
Whilst as a puppy sometimes things like recall go astray the real risk is that your dog may run up to other dogs (on or off the lead) that don't want to play and could be reactive so it's best to work on this rather than think it's something that can't be helped.
Agree with BiteyShark, you need to be as much fun as the distraction, otherwise he'll just carry on playing with the other dog. A squeaky toy or favourite ball should help, but make sure to practise, not just when you meet another dog.
I think it's pointless using an angry voice to get them to come back to you, it might work if you use it to pre-empt the running up to other dogs by stopping and making them think, but not once they're away and enjoying themselves. I'd use a longer training lead temporarily until you get a bit more control back.
The other thing is not to be upset by other dog owners, if I've learned one thing in my years of dog ownership it's that everybody else has an opinion on training or whatever and it may not always be the same as yours, and some people don't even bother to train their dogs at all.
You can't expect a young dog to get it right 100% of the time, and you will develop the skills to deal with it. I'm sure we've all been there!
The point is that whilst the other owner was cross and you feel she should have been more understanding you need to realise that your dog being young does not mean that everyone else has to cut you slack . My dog is friendly for a short period but if other dogs persist in harassing him he very quickly loses it and quite honestly people with your attitude who let their untrained puppies run amok are the bane of my life ( along with people who let their dog steal other peoples balls and then can’t get them back ) . Your dog needs to be recallable ( is that a word) in any circumstances and if it’s not then it shouldn’t be off lead in a public place .
If your dog won't recall to you, you need to keep her on a lead. What if she ran out into a road? Or disappeared out of your sight somewhere?
I know it seems boring but being off lead is not a right, it's a privilege. If she won't return to you when asked then she loses that privilege unless she's in a safe, enclosed space.
I think that after your pup had played with the other dog quite happily and had probably worn off energy, that was the time to use a lead and practice loose lead walking, sit, wait etc.If you found a quiet area of the park with no dogs around then offlead for recall practice. When she is pooltling along near you throw treats so she learns that being near to you is a good thing. Get het to sit and wait while you walk ahead and then call and treat her. All this exercises her brain and will tire her more than a long walk. I used to keep mine on a long lead and when she spotted other dogs I would recall her with treats several times before allowing her to play if the other owner and dog were willing. I think you have to judge your fellow dog walkers. I was lucky in that Cocodog got cut a lot of slack as a pup and youngster, probably helped by the fact that she was over friendly and excitable but not boisterous! But you do , hopefully, get to the point where you realise that you need to do more and that more is impulse control training and recall training and more recall training and yet more recall training. Google, look up Pippa Mattinson recall training.
We recently took a holiday with cocodog where she behaved impeccably on beach, woods, parks, pubs and in town but it has taken two years of reinforcing the training and bonding and I still use the whistle to bring her in from the garden for a bit of a play or a frozen Kong to keep the value of responding to the whistle high. Good luck.
Thank you all for your advice. Floral, I do realise that I can't expect slack from others, and that's the point: I don't want my dog to be the bane of anyone else's life, that's why I'm seeking advice.
Thanks for the helpful suggestions, Bitey, Fennel and Thegirls. I guess what I haven't really thought about is that it's not just a question of training, and it's done, its a much longer term process and things keep changing just when you think you have a handle on something.
All the comments are really thought provoking, so thanks to everyone who has taken the time to post.
What I will add is that you could try training a firm down which may be easier than the recall and then if the puppy does bolt you yell down and wait and then catch it up , that works well with my dog . Infact I use that regularly as I own a terrier who doesn’t want to admit that he’s trained and I’m pretty sure that he thinks stopping and waiting for me to walk to him means he is getting his own way .
I'm going through the same thing just now with mine. For the reasons mentioned above, we now walk him on a long line when we are in places that are near roads or when im in places I know they'll be lots of dogs.
We also attend a recall and leadwork class which has been very helpful. I'm out training him everyday, recalling him back when other dogs are around and when walking on a short lead he no longer gets to say hi to every dog, only 1 in every 5 (if friendly of course).
IV been doing that the last month and there has been progress but still loads to work on and I do take him places I know we won't see dogs so that he can get a good run off lead.
My puppy is a similar age and does the same OP so I sympathise! He just has to stay on the lead around other dogs unless the other owner is happy to let them play for a bit.
He can't be trusted to come back and I'd rather he stayed on lead than have him run off and potentially get injured or lost.
My dog was the same at this age, but she got it eventually. We went to puppy training classes which were a big help too.
I would disagree with using a 'don't mess with me voice' once they've already gone. You have to make them want to come back so an over-the-top excited voice will get a better response. Once they're back, reward them and tons of praise will help cement in their brain that this is a good thing to do.
An extendable or training lead is good in the park as it allows them to move away from you without going AWOL. Use it to practice the recall. Command a firm sit stay, then walk away, turn and call your dog back in the OTT excited voice. Lots of praise when they get to you. You can gradually move further away to do the recall as they get better at the sit stay.
Your dog will learn any command it if you keep practising. Good luck!
Please keep them on a lead unless recall is 100%! I can see the other owners pov here.
I have a very reactive GSD, and he’s a big boy. So I keep him well clear of other dogs, and on a lead if any other dogs are in sight.
I have almost had my shoulders dislocated trying to hang on to him when untrained dogs/puppies run hundreds of yards to try to ‘play’ with him, while their owners shout in vain.
I do get quite cross sometimes unfortunately.
The book total recall is brilliant.
Could you use a longline and harness for now?
My dog is 2 and we’re still doing training! Hide and seek is a good game, teach a “touch” and if all else fails I run away from my dog. Yep. I often look like a lunatic on walks.
I often look like a lunatic on walks
You reminded me of a time I was practicing recall Wolfie and then two people came round the corner on horseback and said they were wondering what all the whooping and cheering was about
praising him when he returned
Try walking a wolfhound who decides to play hide and seek. We weren’t playing. The family under the tree canopy were erm startled.
I have 5 month old with this problem, her recall is pretty good until she sees a dog and then she's deaf. We're taking her to a special course for recall this week which I'm hoping will work.
Again, thank all for the helpful suggestions, and most of all for reassuring me that I am not alone. I am going to look to get more training (for me as much as for her) and we had some success today when I distracted her with a favourite squeaky toy and a ball and she stayed with me, and she was on a long line in case. Sadly, Squeak, the very favourite toy got lost in the leaves, but he has been replaced!
I guess the answer is training training and more training and you have all given me some ideas. Wolfie, I'll buy the book and imagining the sene made me smile! I already look bonkers jumping up and down squeaking things: dogs aren't good for retaining ones dignity!!
Slothmama: if you find a magic answer in your training would you let me know? I'd appreciate it.
You can’t possibly look as bonkers as me. Every day I reinforce something training related. It may be how she gets out the car or clipping claws or leaving the terrible tortie kittens. It’s ongoing.
And formal training? It was only ever me that needed that. The dog is fine.
You’re not alone. And if you ever meet a mad woman squealing in delight that her wolfhound found her and won hide and seek? Say hi!
There’s no magic answer except that dog training takes years and your dog is still a baby. I know it’s lovely to think that you’ve done it a few times and now your dog knows it for life but sadly that is not the case!
You need to proof the recall. You need to practice it over and over and over again in different places in different scenarios with different distractions. Be prepared to be doing it for a long time. Dogs aren’t generally mature until a year or sometimes two for bigger breeds and she will hit various stages of behaviour and regression before then. I’m currently working on the Kennel Club Good Citizen obedience scheme, we’re hopefully doing gold this year. We did silver last year and bronze the year before that. So I’ve been going to dog training classes for over three years with this dog. Some people dip in and out, I had a few months off last year when we were renovating the house but generally it should be an ongoing thing.
You really need to get yourself to a good training class. Look for someone who works with rewards based training and ignore anyone who talks about dominance or pack theory, it’s outdated hokum. In the mean time Pippa Mattinson’s book Total Recall makes good reading.
You’ll get there. Sometimes it seems that your dog is just thick and sometimes they get it just like that. Really helps having a good trainer show you what you’re doing though, training is a minefield. You’re never quite sure what signal you’re giving the dog and what they’re understanding from you.