Recall training for dog who prefers running & chasing to food

edited 28 December 2015 at 8:52PM in Pets & pet care
20 replies 1.8K views
cepheuscepheus PPR
20.1K Posts
edited 28 December 2015 at 8:52PM in Pets & pet care
Most recall training techniques seem to involve conditioning the dog to return to a signal such as a command or whistle. This is reinforced during training by a reward such as favourite treat, usually food, but it might involve a ball, toy or even petting. However, what happens if the drive for chasing or possession of another dogs ball is far stronger than any of the above rewards?

I've used the above procedure in the book called Perfect Recall which works well over the first two weeks when other dogs and balls are absent but once outside with a ball in his mouth he just wants to play catch and chase anything which moves. The recall conditioning also becomes less strong with time.

Paradoxically he keeps dropping a ball onto my lap and he's very attached to me around the house, although he plays the chase game with all new toys.

Other methods I've tried include reducing food in the morning, a spray collar, a laser chaser and even carrying round a battery powered loudspeaker with dogs barking, but he soon catches on and ignores these.

I'm out of ideas although he's due to be neutered soon which might change his behaviour.
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Replies

  • My dog is a nightmare when it comes to recall - she even went missing for days :eek: I now don't let her off the lead, I can't cope with the thought of her going missing again. She's quite small and a terrier cross so has a strong hunting instinct; squirrels, foxes, deer, cats, leaves, rats, you name it, she wants to hunt it. I do sometimes use a heavy lead (attached to her harness) which I drop on the ground and she drags it, but she went awol again today. She couldn't go far, but as she's small and doesn't speak it took me a while to find her.

    In summer or when it's dryer I use a 20m "lungeline" so she feels the freedom but keeps me sane. This is only suitable in open fields of course.

    I have no magic tips for you, sorry. Keep persevering. I'm sure others on here will tell you what you need to do.
  • CarerCarer Forumite
    296 Posts
    Part of the Furniture
    I have a very hyper collie who has been a bit of a trial to train as although she's hugely intelligent, she's also totally thrilled by everyone and everything and really struggles to focus.
    I took her to puppy classes and the trainer said she was the most hyper dog she'd ever seen and that most people would have given her up as too difficult to train.

    I use clicker training with her but for recall click and treat just wasn't enough and I used a squeaky tennis ball that was only used on walks so was a really high value toy. I had a spare in my pocket too.
    What I did was use a normal ball to play but use the squeaky one as a recall.
    When I called the dog I'd squeak the ball and run away from her so she'd have to chase me before she could have the ball. She was unable to resist this even with other dogs about.

    The trick is really just to make what you are doing far more thrilling than anything else so finding what motivates him is key and if it's a chase game, make it about you and not the other dog/child/person etc.

    Mine is now 16 months old with great recall, walks to heel off the lead and totally ignores other dogs and people as she's so focused on her ball and me.
  • edited 29 December 2015 at 9:19AM
    cepheuscepheus PPR
    20.1K Posts
    edited 29 December 2015 at 9:19AM
    Carer wrote: »
    I have a very hyper collie who has been a bit of a trial to train as although she's hugely intelligent, she's also totally thrilled by everyone and everything and really struggles to focus.
    I took her to puppy classes and the trainer said she was the most hyper dog she'd ever seen and that most people would have given her up as too difficult to train.

    I use clicker training with her but for recall click and treat just wasn't enough and I used a squeaky tennis ball that was only used on walks so was a really high value toy. I had a spare in my pocket too.
    What I did was use a normal ball to play but use the squeaky one as a recall.
    When I called the dog I'd squeak the ball and run away from her so she'd have to chase me before she could have the ball. She was unable to resist this even with other dogs about.

    The trick is really just to make what you are doing far more thrilling than anything else so finding what motivates him is key and if it's a chase game, make it about you and not the other dog/child/person etc.

    Mine is now 16 months old with great recall, walks to heel off the lead and totally ignores other dogs and people as she's so focused on her ball and me.

    I bought one of those Kong ball squeaks (which I've just left in a hotel room unfortunately). Perhaps my mistake was leaving it with him inside the house to play with rather than restricting it for emergencies. He likes new toys and tries to tear them up, but that's not important for occasional situations. I will persevere with this concept though. I might get one of those toy dogs which bark and walk (not a real one) although that might work as well. He'll know what I'm up to though.
  • Person_onePerson_one Forumite
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    Collie or terrier? ;)

    First of all, no aversives like spray collars. Positive reinforcement is always better than negative.

    No laser pen things either, not healthy psychologically especially for dogs who have a tendency to get fixated on things like balls.

    I would avoid all balls and chasing play altogether to be honest, some dogs are never able to relax at all if there's something to chase. Make your walks hikes through varied terrain and woods rather than out in the open with lots of other dogs and ball playing going on. Your dog will get stimulation from the many smells and environments and will learn to keep an eye on you so he doesn't lose you.
  • edited 29 December 2015 at 12:38PM
    cepheuscepheus PPR
    20.1K Posts
    edited 29 December 2015 at 12:38PM
    He's a Lab Alsation cross, probably more lab. 11 months.

    If it's the woods it would have to be along narrow paths to minimise the chance of coming across cyclists, runners and forestry vehicles. Unfortunately, these are difficult to avoid altogether. Of course he gets very little exercise on the lead and loves running and playing with other dogs. My technique is to keep him on a long lead on wide paths until I find a suitable dog then let him off for a while. It's very muddy at the moment though, and could break off and run towards any fast moving object nearer than 50 metres away.
  • yellowbearyellowbear Forumite
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    Part of the Furniture 500 Posts
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    I have a 3yo Lab who was as deaf as a post when it came to recall. In her case though, it was people who were the most exciting. She loved meeting new people and was a !!!!!! to get back.

    She has got better with age, thankfully, but for a while it was awful.

    I found round about 12 months was the worst - we had to go right back to the beginning. Back to basics with sit, stay, down, everything.
    We even got a behaviourist in. He recommended the squeaky balls as above. She only ever had them for recall training as she would shred them if left with them.

    When she was 2ish, she had a funny 5 minutes again. It was like she had forgotten everything she had been taught.

    She's really good now - will leave people and dogs when you call her, although I've just remembered that letting her have a play with other dogs to 'get it out of her system' before calling her used to work too.

    Do you let him go back to what he was doing before you called him? Do you put him straight on the lead to go home?

    I found letting her go and recalling her, then letting her go, recall and put on lead, walk on lead for a minute or two, then let her go again, recall her and release again so coming back didn't automatically mean the end of playtime was really useful too.
  • krlyrkrlyr Forumite
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    Ninth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    sheramber wrote: »

    Was just going to recommend this. It's about using the dog's desire to chase it's reward - so you're going with the current rather than trying to fight against it.

    However, regardless of method you use, it's really important to stop (or definitely minimise) the chance of any failures. If you don't have time to train, or can't guarantee he will respond, then don't let him off (or if he's already off, certainly don't 'waste' your recall command if you know he won't come back).

    It could be worth ditching any current word/cue and starting fresh with a new one, too. If you've used the word come, for example, that now means "Come, if you want, but not if you're having more fun elsewhere". Use a brand new, totally different word, and only ever use it where you can guarantee success.

    It may be worth checking out this FB group for fields to hire/use, so you can provide safe off-lead time without worrying about a failed recall having bad consequences
    https://www.facebook.com/dogwalkingfields/?fref=ts
  • *zippy**zippy* Forumite
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    It may be worth checking out this FB group for fields to hire/use, so you can provide safe off-lead time without worrying about a failed recall having bad consequences
    https://www.facebook.com/dogwalkingfields/?fref=ts

    If there's one near you my SIL had some one to one training with the dogs trust, it wasn't expensive and worked wonders. Afterwards they let her use their enclosed field for practicing his recall for as long as she wanted for free too.
  • Yes that more or less what it said in the book. Don't reinforce failure command (it was a whistle) and don't associate recall with anything less pleasant. I'm a member of the Dogs trust so I might call them.
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