Total recall - fallen at the first sodding hurdle!!

(25 Posts)
cowfacemonkey Mon 26-Nov-18 19:11:28

So lucher pup is now 18 months old. Had amazing recall until about 8 months when it disappeared. It has improved a bit I that he never runs away as such and if I hide or walk away he will cotton on a come find me. So my current recall method is running across the field in the opposite direction wooing and hooing so he chases me (it's his most favourite thing to do).

If there are other dogs I'm buggered as nothing is more fun than other dogs.

Anyway got the Total Recall and made a start today. Made some tuna cakes which he was beside himself trying to get in the kitchen to have whilst they were cooling down. Did the first exercise of holding some in my hand and a few gently blows on the whistle. Lurcher pup responded by jumping backwards and refusing to take the food. It wasn't a scared jump back it was the same thing he does when he's off lead and I offer him a treat. He jumps away playfully cause he thinks I'm going to put a lead on him.

We were indoors, no lead in sight. How does he know? I swear the little sod knows exactly what I'm trying to achieve. So what next? Do I have to give up on the whistle as he now doesn't associate it with something wow!? or try again with an even better food treat?

I really want to crack recall as he loves to be off lead but there's only one or two places we can do it and it's getting a bit boring!

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missbattenburg Mon 26-Nov-18 19:15:15

Have you used the whistle before?

cowfacemonkey Mon 26-Nov-18 19:22:49

I have used it a couple of time in the past to see if it got his attention when out (it didn't!) so it wasn't a totally brand new sound. Is that the problem? From what I've read so far with older dogs it sounds like it needs to be a shiny new sound that they associate with amazing treats?

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BiteyShark Mon 26-Nov-18 19:41:28

Sounds like he associates treats with a lead or you grabbing him.

I use a quick series of 4 pips and at first I got him to associate that noise with running towards me. Could you call him and use the whistle just when he runs toward you. Maybe reward with a game of tug at first if he is associating food with fun stopping.

It will take a while to build up that association in the home. Then move to the garden before trying outside.

missbattenburg Mon 26-Nov-18 19:51:16

Yep, sounds like it isn't the whistle that's your problem so I would suggest you don't need to change it.

Either he is suspicious of treats - Battendog was the same because I'd used them to lure him into doing things he didn't want to do. I had to reassess how I used them and only produce them suddenly AFTER he'd done what was wanted.


You are moving in a certain tell tale way that he associates with being caught. e.g. leaning over in a certain way.

Or both.

I think I'd look to change how you use food and try whistling while positioned in a way that definately isn't like he's going to be caught. Maybe even toss the treat on the floor nearby for the first few times so he knows it's not a trap?

Vallahalagonebutnotforgotten Mon 26-Nov-18 19:52:15

Drop the food on the floor by your feet and step back.

cowfacemonkey Mon 26-Nov-18 19:55:19

Problem is he only runs towards me if I'm running away or hiding and he always stops about 2 metres away (stays right out of reach). He won't "come" when called out of the house but he responds "wait" and a finger point when I want to put the lead on. I wonder sometimes if he's all treated out? I do make a point of letting him off more than once on a walk so he knows that lead on doesn't mean the off lead fun is over.

He is fear reactive on lead to other dogs so he gets lots of little treats on our walks when we encounter other dogs. He's getting much, much better with this but it makes me wonder if that's another reason he doesn't come back?

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cowfacemonkey Mon 26-Nov-18 20:00:19

Good idea about dropping the food on the floor I suspect I am subconsciously using a body language that is off putting. Will try peanut butter on toast tomorrow - it's an occasional treat that he goes a bit bonkers for. If only they made a clicker that sounds like a toaster popping up he'd be by my side in a nano second grin

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BiteyShark Mon 26-Nov-18 20:02:39

BiteyDog used to do the jumping away at the last minute out on a walk. I started to get him to do lots of sits and I would just at first walk near to him and then send him off again. Then I started to get closer, then touch him, then stroke him and finally I would grab his collar. I still do the sit and grab collar, praise and send him off again on walks so he isn't on alert for me stopping play. I never even put the lead back on in the same spot on a walk just in case he starts associating that area with the walk finishing.

They are so smart and can read you like a book, especially if they don't want their fun to stop grin.

Vallahalagonebutnotforgotten Mon 26-Nov-18 20:30:36

Its quite important to get all dogs happy with a collar grab easy to do when they are pups but can need more care if they have built up a unease about it.

Do not practice collar grab when training a recall to start with - keep it separate.

So carry on with the whistle and drop food on the floor and stepback.

2nd task is to hold his collar when you give him his food - no recall at all - you may need to start this with just holding his lead then a short lead then moving down to his collar. overtime if you take this slowly you can build up to grab and treat. Then you can add to recall.

Does your dog know a hand touch? That can be used to get him to come closer to you without having to grab the collar.

Booboostwo Mon 26-Nov-18 20:40:18

I was taught and have taught everyone else in turn to always have two finger under the collar for a recall. Most puppies don’t have a problem with this, and any that do can be conditioned to accept it.

If a dog behaves like yours does, I.e. comes back to just outside grabbing distance because he does not want to get caught, the only real solution is the long line.

cowfacemonkey Mon 26-Nov-18 21:15:12

He wears a harness that has a "grab" handle so I rarely collar grab him. Should I still use the same principal of holding the harness when giving food? He does know hand touch so will try that too.

I do have a long line but stopped using it after I was holding it and I broke my finger when he reacted to another dog and made a bolt for it. I'm making him sound like a nightmare! He isn't really he's fab and adorable just a plonker on occasion!

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Booboostwo Mon 26-Nov-18 21:29:39

The long line should be trailing on the ground and you step on it when he fails to respond to a recall. So you have a lead and a long line attached to the collar. You take off the lead and allow the long line to trail (make sure it doesn’t get tangled up around anything). You call the dog, if he recalls, reward and release. If he ignores you, step on the long line (assuming the dog is not large enough to pull and sweep you off your feet!), walk on the long line all the way to the dog, fingers under collar, reverse with the dog back to where you first called him, reward and release.

Realistically it is better to use the long line in a large area with no obstacles and no other dogs, otherwise it risks getting tangled. Re-establish the recall under these easier conditions and the work within sight but at a distance from other dogs.

Booboostwo Mon 26-Nov-18 21:30:31

Given his worry about being grabbed, any work you do touching and holding the collar/harness while rewarding can only be helpful.

Vallahalagonebutnotforgotten Mon 26-Nov-18 22:07:34

I disagree Booboostwo that a long line is the only answer. Games and tricks will also help a dog to get close to the owner if they do not like a collar grab.

As said above a hand touch, teaching your dog to go in between your legs, to lie down and wait, to run around your leg - close position at side of leg etc. Another thing to do as he loves chasing you is to get him to race you to a toy - most dogs luuuuuurve this game.
Call his name for the recall and run away as he is getting close to you throw a toy in the direction you are running and ask him to get it - you can play tug etc as you both reach the toy. Clip his lead on whilst playing and continue to play once the lead has been put on. Be prepared for him to up his pace when he gets into this game smile

OP if he is reacting to the harness grab then I would work on training a collar grab - it may be easier for him. He does not sound like a nightmare at all smile

MotorcycleMayhem Mon 26-Nov-18 22:15:37

Are you using a recall word that's failed in the past?

We had to give up on 'come' and 'here' and ended up with 'whats this' or rather 'wossis' when it's run together, and proffering a treat! The words had been negatively associated by her previous home / owners and she studiously ignored them - still does 2 years on. Wossis is all she'll come back to.

cowfacemonkey Mon 26-Nov-18 22:35:25

The plan was to start fresh today using the Total Recall methods and I had planned to stop using "come" or "rooo eee" (don't ask!?) and use the whistle and a new word.

Some great ideas here, thank you!

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cowfacemonkey Mon 26-Nov-18 22:51:48

Gratuitous pic

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BiteyShark Tue 27-Nov-18 06:17:23

Awww what a cute nose grin

It's so hard not to feel disheartened when you follow a plan and your dog doesn't. Good luck for today.

Booboostwo Tue 27-Nov-18 07:32:04

Aww he’s very cute!

Unmumsyme Tue 27-Nov-18 16:46:05

Great advice already given! OP you’re not alone in this...I have a similar 18mth old & we’ve been using the long line since she was about 9mths. I’m JUST about getting brave enough to take it off in selected locations! Her recall is 100% now unless there’s another dog/interesting situation (still 🙄) so have to be super careful & step on the line if in any doubt.

I paired the wistle by initially ONLY using it when she was already enthusiastically racing towards me (hide & seek, chase me etc) and still now only when I’m pretty sure she’ll recall. And really high value treats.

My girl can read my mind too & has played keep away in the past. Something that’s helping us is, for example, asking for a nose touch (or could be any strong behaviour in proximity) then throwing the treat AWAY from me. She’s coming in close, and her reward is getting to move away again, so keeping the pressure off. Maybe worth a try?

Unmumsyme Tue 27-Nov-18 16:46:35


cowfacemonkey Wed 28-Nov-18 21:11:07

Well we’ve had more success today, apparently hot buttery toast with peanut butter is the way forward. That’s gonna be messy in my pocket on a walk!! I do have a feeling this is a long road ahead though <sigh>

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CMOTDibbler Thu 29-Nov-18 09:04:09

One day at a time - for now, just work on getting him to run enthusiastically to you for a treat when you use your word. Try and make it as successful as possible by not using it when he is deeply interested in something else, but when he looks like he's about to come in from the garden anyway for instance. And keep the jackpot treat only for coming, not at any other time.

You can get squeezy peanut butter in a tube for dogs which might be better out and about. Mine all go nuts for dried sprats and I'm forever finding bits of sprat in my pockets.

Next 3 foster pups arrive tomorrow, which will be fun in this weather...

cowfacemonkey Thu 29-Nov-18 09:42:36

Ooh 3 pups brave lady!!

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