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Thread: Random recall problem

  1. #1

    Random recall problem

    Hi all, I'm hoping I might be able to get some insight here from those with much more experiene than me. Ive been working hard on recalls and general off lead obedience with my 10 month old lab X GWP. I've put in a lot of effort and she now recalls reasonably well from most minor or moderate distractions, albeit not always instantly. She will also stop fairly well on a whistle, although that needs working on probably by going back to basics in the garden.
    Anyway, the problem is this. Sometimes, for no apparent reason she will simply ignore the recall. This can happen seemingly at random. As she isn't totally reliable yet I usually actively avoid recalling her in situations where I know she's likely to be too distracted unless I need to. But she will sometimes look right at me and then simply continue whatever she wants to do (usually run around in circles, but sometimes go off hunting towards the horizon or ssimply munch a clump of grass) even when not particularly distracted or excitable before I called her. She also does this when retrieving a thrown or hunted-for dummy sometimes, but usually brings it straight back to hand (or via a slightly bent straight line back )
    When she does this she obviously thinks its a game, as she won't come close enough for me to put her on the lead (even when actively offered a treat from my hand she stays outside arms reach and runs away when I move) despite other times being perfectly happy going on the lead after a recall, which I always reward with food. I dont chastise her or anything when she finally does come back, but I'm concerned that she's basically rewarding herself the whole time and learning that ignoring me is a fun game. I have no way of stopping the behaviour and obviously she isn't interested in the alternative reward.
    A supposed expert suggests on another site that I should run after her and catch her. I dont know what breed he usually works with, but clearly this is a less than useful suggestion...
    If anybody has any effective advice of how to stop this before I end up posting a lost dog thread or pulling all my hair out then please do share!
    Last edited by SimpleSimon; 16-02-2015 at 11:55. Reason: wrong title...
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  2. #2
    It's difficult to say how to help without seeing her, but you could try a few things.
    only give her a treat when she comes strait back,
    try backing off from her when she is slowing down to a stop,
    you are never going to catch her but sometimes running at your dog when it does decide to come back has the same affect as if you have caught her and you must make sure she knows she has done wrong at this point(hope this makes sense?)
    please I am no expert but have had many dogs over the years and picked up one or two tips.
    hopefully many others will offer there good advice too.


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  3. #3
    You need to both remove the opportunity for her to play silly buggers, and make coming back to you the best thing in that wee dogs mind at the same time. I'd suggest (and I'm no Barbara Woodhouse, so this is only advice) keeping her on a trailing lead & making a massive fuss of her whenever she returns. No training, no dummies, no treats, etc. Just make a game out of getting her to come back to you in itself for a wee while.

    You know yourself how important the recall is. And the benefit for any onlookers is that the bigger a tit you make of yourself fussing over her, the more likely it is to work
    A Man should be wise, but never too wise. He who does not know his fate in advance is free of care

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by SimpleSimon View Post
    A supposed expert suggests on another site that I should run after her and catch her.
    ha, I would love to see this!!

    shades of "Fenton!"...."Fenton!"..."Jesus Christ!!"

    Personally I would suggest back to basics and the conditioning of a recall being a good thing, not the end of the "game".

    Remove the retrieve from the recall exercise (less of a game and removes any possession) and condition with praise (and treats if necessary but I would personally start with praise)

    If she is ignoring you, allowing her to get away with it is only re-enforcing the action she wants
    Don't progress until she has come back. Praise and then move on
    With an adult/adolescent dog I tend to stand still and stay there until it comes back (if it is actually running away that is a different situation!)
    keep the distances short and gradually work up to allowing her to roam further when you are confident she will come

    I am training a puppy at the moment and the recall is the only part I re-enforce from the very beginning.
    She is only 8 weeks and using her slight nervousness of new things is perfect for bringing her back and praising, give her confidence, let her go again.
    She is retrieving toys and whilst I am not actively training that I use the same "over praise" on retrieve as I do for recall.

  5. #5
    Welcome to its teens. the training will come good again be patient

  6. #6
    Hi heart goes out you...been there suffered that !!
    I've tried the chasing after him trick but he thought that was a great game and he won.....

    We thought we had cracked the recall with him until he got to about the same age as yours (terrible teens !!) and then he regressed. After taking advice from a trainer of FTC spaniels and Labs he suggested that off the lead he/she is hunting and unless you're part of the hunt then you're not interested in the dogs mind and he/she takes control and pleases themselves !

    We initially put him back on the long line and re-inforced the recall with lots of fuss and treats (he is very food driven thankfully) and then every walk becomes a hunt where he is constantly hunting for me rather than having a run round pleasing himself......thankfully that worked and he's now reliable and totally focussed on me when out for a walk.

    Good luck and best regards Rob.

  7. #7
    That's the GWP,while you may get sense out of a Lab at that age HPRs in general are slow to mature still a pup at ten months about 18 months before they get their sensible head on.

  8. #8
    Thats the difference between the top trainers dogs and most of the rest, most trainers including myself let the dogs away with obeying most of the time or a slight delay while the really good trainers will work till things really are 100% instant and solid. Whereas i'm happy with thats good enough, and to be fair its not that much extra work going that tiny bit further

    Wot are u training the dog for? I take it a gundog since u mention dummies.

    Back to basics on a lead making sure it sits sharp on the whistle, plnty of praise treats etc when it does.
    U make a very good point about not recalling when u know it wont, most folk don't ever think about that, also if ur dog is not coming back no point repeating the recall unless u honestly think it has not heard, otherwise re-enforcing ignoring the command.
    Try blowing recall more often when dog is already facing u and u start moving the oppisate direction

    Gettin advice of someone that can see ur dog is probably the best. Or join a traing club is always handy and good for both u and ur dog

    If ur dog is generally fairly obediant as soon as disobeys a deep growl,OI might be enough, prob would be with a lab, prob not with ur cross thou depended how much 'wire's' in it.
    Possibly walking running in oppisate direction might help. Or if its safe to do so hide and let the dog really panic when it cannae find u, but thats more for dogs that run off than not obeying recall, but for sniffing grass and generally not paying u attention would work. Then when it really panics blow the recall massive praise/treat etc

    I do chase my dogs down, (labs and even my springer just drop instantly with no real fuss, for my gwp i had to up the lunatic factor a good bit or he would just run about) run at them like a raving lunatic, making a racket waving ur arms stamping ur feet most dogs will instantly cower and clamp down, then just slip lead on walk 2 steps back and give recall slightly tugging dog to u on lead and praise and repeat a few times.
    I think it was Joe iring a famous spaniel trainer that said the trick was never let ur dog realise u cannae catch it, think he would chase young dogs down or older dogs in tight spaces so dogs always believed u could catch it
    U can use long lines etc but a clever dog will learn when lead is on and behave on it and mis behave when its not on.
    If its running circles round u try recalling when ur backs to a wall fence, hedge burn etc

    For me if a dog looked at me then ignored the command its testing how far it can push u (but i may be wrong as not seen it, but sounds like it) and at its age it could be the teenager coming out in it. All depends on ur dog and its temperment, most hpr's u really cannae allow them much lee way as they will keeping pushing limits
    Possibly with a pure lab u could do very little but not give it the opportunity (keep it on a lead and limited off lead work, free play) and if it has been pretty good as a pup it will grow out of it as long as u do not let it develop into a problem, that migt not be so easy if its more gwp temperment

    Like most dog problems hard to really advise withourt seeing the dog and also lot of room for mis understandings in how i have read ur problems and how u understand my response, far beter to see someone in the flesh, even if it costs a wee bit money. U will have the dog for next 10+ years, a small investment now might mean the difference between a dog that is a pleasure to shoot/stalk with or a nightmare
    Last edited by countrryboy; 17-02-2015 at 01:20.

  9. #9
    Wow, big thank you for all the advice so far, that's given me a lot to go on. I'll take on board and try some of these tactics and post my results as I start to see them. I'm thinking today maybe I'll put her on a long line, arm myself with some raw liver and make the whole session a game about coming back to me and not getting anything from ignoring (because she'll be on the line). Would I be right in thinking it Will benefit me to try and hold her attention for a bit longer thab normal when she comes back?
    Knowing my dog she'll be perfect first time every time now until I'm back in that false sense of security, then she'll do something ridiculous
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    AND my new puppy progress DIARY

  10. #10
    Your dog is completely taking the piss out of you.....
    You have allowed it too.......

    Basics......your dog has zero respect for you and will please itself until you get control of the dog.

    Why let it off lead if you know this happens?
    You are compounding the problem.

    Heel,sit,sit and stay......ingrain all.

    Recall-a dog should WANT to be with you......not take the piss.

    Back off with the recall......keep the dog under control.COMPLETE CONTROL.This means you being in close control,get the dog to respect you on the lead.....sit means sit,not in dogs time,when you command it,enforce the command.....

    As Countrryboy says,a dog should do as commanded,not when it wants......when you want it to do what its told.

    You are boss,not the dog......or are you?
    Last edited by Wolverine; 17-02-2015 at 20:38.

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