Need help with 7 month old puppy

(88 Posts)
foxbasesecular43 Thu 20-Jun-19 14:45:29

Hey, just before I go any further, I'm talking about a Cockerpoo, so please, only comment / offer advice if it's without any negative feedback on your thoughts of that particular mix of breeds - thanks

We've had this dog since he was 8 weeks old, did my research etc etc, happy with the breeder etc etc.

He's never given us a sleepless night, isn't destructive, only barks at other dogs, is great with kids and visitors, playful, fun, got a real character.

He's also really stubborn, and takes on training when he feels to - is fairly food orientated, but not 100% food orientated, and his biggest problem (apart from being quite pully on the lead but that's for another day) is that he doesn't just run off when off the lead - he takes himself off for laps round the park - and streaks past me completely ignoring anything I'm doing to get him back (ie throwing his favorite ball, treats, squeaky things etc etc).

It's so depressing - it means I actually can't let him off the lead, which is not what I'd hoped for when getting a dog - I really enjoy walking and basically assumed that my dog would be my walking companion - but today he totally ruined it by making me wait for 15 minutes in the park whilst he did laps, to the huge amusement of several other dog walkers who looked on in a mixture of horror and sympathy as I stood there watching him streak away in to the distance.

I have a long line which I keep him on in the main, but I think he really hates it so when he doesn't have it on he really makes the most of the freedom, I've tried the Citronella collar, but it makes no difference - I am becoming tempted to try the ecollar because I'm totally at my wits end.

As background, I do training with him practically every day, his recall in the house and garden is 99%, he's engaged with me, our bond is strong (not today it isn't, I can't stand the sight of him) I'm basically doing everything I feel I can to try and improve the situation and I've just reached a point where I'm thinking of sending him back to his breeder. no judgement please.

Has anyone got experience of a young dog doing this and then miraculously growing out of it?! Or was there something anyone did to change the dogs mindset?

Thanks in advance

OP’s posts: |
palacegirl77 Thu 20-Jun-19 14:52:14

Get a behaviourist to come and do a 1:1 with you and him.. Learn proper recall training (read 'total recall') learn whistle training. There are loads of solutions, get some professional help and nip it in the bud. Sending a dog back to a breeder because he hasnt been TRAINED to recall is not a solution.

foxbasesecular43 Thu 20-Jun-19 14:55:18

@palacegirl77 yep, agreed, but I have been doing recall training with him - I have spent hours doing recall training with him and got a trainer to come and help me and her words were " I've never seen anything like it". That is why i have come on here, for advice and guidance which might reach further than just 'train him'

OP’s posts: |
pigsDOfly Thu 20-Jun-19 15:32:23

Well that trainer sounds a bit clueless tbh if she's never seen anything like that.You might consider getting another trainer.

Please, please do not get some sort of ecollar or any other aversive type collar, and throw away the citron collar. This is not the way to train a dog and basically teaches them nothing except to possibly to become fearful.

The two breeds that your dog has in him are both intelligent high energy breeds. Sounds like you've got the very high energy stubborn bit of both breeds.

Firstly, you need to keep him on the long lead for as long as it takes to get him trained to recall.

If you let him off from time to time to race round the park, all you will achieve is to strongly reinforce the behaviour that you are trying to get rid of i.e. the running around ignoring you.

Secondly, you need to be aware that he is entering his adolescent phase, so he's going to be trying to assert his independence and show you that he's a big boy now and doesn't have to listen to you; just the way teenage children do.

This phase will pass. But you need to work hard on his recall whilst he going through it. And keep him on the long line.

If you need help with it get yourself a better 1 to 1 trainer.

Training a dog can be hard work, and it can be fun. Usually it's a mixture of both. All that's required is lots of consistent positive training and lot of treating.

We all get a bit discouraged and desperate at times, especially with an adolescent dog as they can be maddening but if you're prepared to put in the work then you can come out the other side with a lovely adult dog. And remember training doesn't stop even for an adult dog.

If you're not prepared to put in the work, the yes, you might as well send the dog back to the breeder because the dog will grow up into an untrained, probably unpleasant adult.

palacegirl77 Thu 20-Jun-19 15:54:30

I wouldnt get a trainer at all, Id get a behaviourist - these are totally different. The behaviourist can assess why he is doing what he is, and find a solution. Think of it as getting in an expert. As you said, the trainer said she'd "never seen anything like it" which would imply that they arent very experienced, beyond the Barbara Woodhouse type training that just doesnt suit every dog. Whereabouts in the UK are you?

BiteyShark Thu 20-Jun-19 16:18:27

I have a cocker and we trained recall with a whistle. At 6 months of age his recall started to go and it was a bloody nightmare for around the next 5 months, peaking at the age of 7-8 months.

I remember almost being in tears as he picked up a scent and disappeared into the forest. Or when he used to dance about a few metres away not letting me get him on a lead.

It will get better but not before it gets worse. Mine now sticks to me like glue as long as I have a ball with me, even walking past deer and rabbits. However, at the age yours is at he would have laughed and run off having fun with anyone but me.

I would recommend training to a whistle (I use acme ones so I can always get the same pitch). The reason for this is that first it can be heard a long way off and second it takes all the emotion out of your recall when you are frustrated/angry/upset.

I never used a long line but I took him to wide (I mean miles) of open space when I was fairly certain I wouldn't spot anyone else or another dog. I did a combination of walking in different directions so he had to keep an eye on me rather than the other way round, playing hide and seek so he had to hunt me out, practicing recall then sending him off and also trying to be fun by engaging him in play. As he matured he started to get excited by balls and I found that was his motivation so we actually stopped 'walking' and started playing in one spot so I was the fun one. When he stopped running off I then slowly started to walk at times when there were more distractions as I was confident that he would come back.

I do remember how shit it was back then so you have my sympathies but keep at it as they will eventually mature. Remember he 'knows' what he should be doing but is choosing not to at the moment because he's becoming a stubborn stoppy teenager.

foxbasesecular43 Thu 20-Jun-19 16:19:18

@palacegirl77 I'm in South East London (Peckham) - I agree that I think I need a behaviorist rather than a trainer because it does seem to me that he looses his mind when running around the park like a lunatic. Can you recommend someone?

OP’s posts: |


MissShapesMissStakes Thu 20-Jun-19 16:21:48

I would agree with pp about never letting him off lead until his recall is more solid. I was nervous with my mini poodle about recall ( more my problem than his really) and I didn’t let him off his long lead (10m) for probably too long. But then I moved to just dropping his lead. So he didn’t have that ‘complete freedom’ feeling.

Also be as much fun as possible. My dh is more exciting than me it seems and he was the first to nail his recall with confidence as he plays silly games, hides, throws further etc. But with lots of rewards (primula) he’s getting great at recall with me too. Also lots of me changing direction so he has to keep an eye on where I am. Is it worth changing where you walk him for a bit too, so he feels a little less familiar and secure about where he is. And it’s not a place he is used to zooming off. The dog trainer I used said recall with younger dogs is always harder in open spaces as they can see lots of space and interesting things. Woods are good for us.

Now ddog will zoom off into the undergrowth and go crazy but come back when I shout. He even had a few mad minutes playing with another pup and returned to me as soon as I shouted him on his last walk. I was so proud!

My dog is now almost one. He has come in quickly with recall in the last couple of weeks. I do think a lot of it is persistence and a bit of growing up.

foxbasesecular43 Thu 20-Jun-19 16:25:49

@Biteyshark it's so funny you should talk about an acne whistle, as I literally had just purchased one before I came back on here to check replies! It is so difficult to keep the anger out of my voice when he's been running rings round me so this does seem like a good start. I live somewhere that makes it virtually impossible to give him space without distractions and anyway, he likes chasing planes too. Also, his recall has always been totally appalling - it's been getting a little better but only when i am 100% on it, there is no walking through the woods admiring the scenery for me! Which is fine, but it's depressing to contemplate that this might carry on for the rest of his life. i did cry today, sat on the bench in the park, called my husband and told him that if he pushed me to get rid of the dog today, i'd say yes! Luckily, he didn't....

OP’s posts: |
BiteyShark Thu 20-Jun-19 16:29:24

I know you have a cockerpoo but clearly there is some cocker in there wink. The gundog trainers I used told me just to keep practicing recall, not let him get too far away from me in the first place and stop walking him and start 'working him' e.g. hunting things with you etc.

foxbasesecular43 Thu 20-Jun-19 16:30:47

@MissShapesMissStakes i deeply regret letting him off today and totally blame myself - I'd taken him on a long 10km circular walk and we were finishing off in the park and I just thought, why not - how bad can it be!!! Well, he answered that question. I'm just so bored with lugging the 10m lead round! I really try and vary where I walk him, but it doesn't seem to make any difference. He's just off. he's never had the fear thing that keeps him close to me - he doesn't seem to be afraid of anything. Could be reading it wrong and it could be fear which is sending him off, but I don't think it is.
well done for persisting and congratulations on getting him back to you - hopefully one day I too will know what that feels like!

OP’s posts: |
palacegirl77 Thu 20-Jun-19 16:31:40

Completely agree that if whistle training then an acme gundog whistle (2.10.5 pitch) is great. But just remember that he needs to be trained to respond to it...think of it like a clicker - they hear click they get treat so click in tiself becomes rewarding...the whistle must be paired with rewards such as meals/treats so it becomes an automatic response...and this starts in the house then house to garden before outside. Which I lived nearer Id love to train him! check out the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors for someone locally....

MissShapesMissStakes Thu 20-Jun-19 16:41:23

Fox - thanks. He will probably leg it tomorrow now I’ve said that! He did mob a person for his picnic when he was about your dogs age. I was mortified! Poor man was just trying to grab a peaceful lunchtime alone on a quiet woods bench. blush

As you’re working so hard on it, I’m sure it will come. I really was getting sick of walking him before it clicked. And that was one of the things I was most looking forward to when we got a dog. Doesn’t help when you see other perfectly behaved dogs following their owners who are having to make no effort!

Keep going. Look into a behaviourist. It will come hopefully.

daisydotandgertie Thu 20-Jun-19 16:54:10

Visit and book yourself onto a course with someone who understands how to get the best out of a Gundog breed/cross. You need a bit of specialist, experienced help I think.

mrsjoyfulprizeforraffiawork Thu 20-Jun-19 17:02:28

My (adult rescue) Greek dog used to do this in Greece whilst I was still trying to train her. She'd just get the devil in her and run off along the mountain side. Then, I'd call and whistle her and she'd run back AND STRAIGHT PAST ME - this went on for a while, backwards and forwards whilst I got steadily more and more infuriated. Eventually, I found the best thing to do was to sit down at the side of the track and look totally uninterested and eventually it wouldn't be fun any more and she'd stop and get near enough for me to grab her. Being a mad Greek collie cross she retained the right to ignore me occasionally in later years but only very infrequently - on the whole, we came to terms! I would expect to have had much more success with a young dog so please don't think you won't succeed - you will - you just need to work at it with a good behaviourist as others have suggested. I second whoever said throw away the citronella collar .

NeuropeptideS Thu 20-Jun-19 18:16:49

Thanks for all your comments on this thread, and OP for voicing your troubles. I'm in exactly the same place you and it's such a comfort to know I'm not alone!

ThatsUnusual Thu 20-Jun-19 18:54:02

Another vote for 'Total Recall' - it's an amazing book. Follow the steps and in the meantime, don't let him off at all. It's too self-rewarding at the moment for him to run off and please himself.

You need to be much more interesting - think high, high reward for coming back to you (hot chicken!) and accept this will take months, rather than weeks, to make progress.

I know it's so tough.

NeuropeptideS Thu 20-Jun-19 19:21:01

There's a whole book on just recall?!!

lorisparkle Thu 20-Jun-19 19:34:00

The book 'total recall' is excellent. It is written by the author of the website 'thelabradorsite' so whilst you may not have a Labrador you may find useful stuff on that site. I find the Facebook group 'dog training advice and support ' excellent as well. They have 'units' written on all the common issues plus will answer questions not covered in the units.

I would persevere with the long lead, it is a faff but better than letting your dog practice and therefore self reward the unwanted behaviour. Our puppy loves a ball and we toss the ball just around our feet to keep him focused on us.

Booboostwo Thu 20-Jun-19 20:27:12

I will suggest the opposite of some of the posts, rather than keeping him on lead find as many opportunities to let him off lead as possible.

Remember the basic of clicker training (I assume you are clicker training which is not about the reward, it’s about the conditioned response): create the conditions that will result in the behaviour you want so that you can reward it.

Most young dogs will recall only under specific circumstances so you need to manipulate the environment to make it conducive to recall. If you recall your young dog just as you’ve let him off the lead or just as he is chasing something or just as he’s seen another dog, he will ignore you creating a cycle of problems where ignoring you becomes a possibility.

What happened exactly? You let him off and what did he do? Did he run out of sight? That is the most problematic behaviour. If he stayed within sight it’s a good sign. Find a space where he can just go bonkers off lead for as long as he needs. How did you catch him again? Did he eventually come back? If yes, this is what you should be focusing on (forget about other people and their judgement). What did you do after that? Ideally you want to be relaxed, wait it out, call him when he is ready to come back, click, treat and then release him again - this is very, very important. He mustn’t learn that recall is always followed by going on the lead.

Just a question: when you say you got fed up of lugging the long line is this because your long line is heavy? It should be extremely light weight so that the dog forgets it is there.

NeuropeptideS Thu 20-Jun-19 21:07:48

So you get tangled up and trip people over with a long lead though?

NeuropeptideS Thu 20-Jun-19 21:08:07


Booboostwo Thu 20-Jun-19 21:08:51

Nah, you just wrap it round your neck and all your problems are over.

Felicia4 Thu 20-Jun-19 21:24:58

Just here to say I sympathise completely and you are not alone. I have a 5 month old "Shi poo" who has nailed everything else with ease but seems to think recall is optional. Don't give up, you'll get there. Lots of good advice from pps.

Nettleskeins Thu 20-Jun-19 22:36:59

I think what Boo said is really interesting. I feel that my poodle cross (8 months now) has quite shaky recall when something is really interesting, but he never actually runs off if I'm paying attention. He might be playing with another dog or trying to sniff out some food I don't want him to eat, but he isn't bolting. And I think that is because most of the time he IS off lead, and when I call him back I will usually put him on lead at the most for a few minutes (in sticky situation) but mostly just get him back and then walk on (no lead) in a different direction

So that is what works for me. I dont do a lot of recall practice at home (I did when he was much younger) because in a sense I am constantly doing it in the park and having to be hypervigilant/attuned. That seems to be the essence of him coming back - I'm giving him freedom but I'm leading him ifysim.

I've had two incidents where I haven't paid attention to him and something has gone wrong (he has run off through fear) but I honestly don't think keeping him on the lead would have helped avoid those situations, what would have helped is me picking up more on his body language in a situation where he was out of his depth, and being his back stop - to my shame I was talking to someone and didn't notice he was scared rather than just frisky.

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