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Teaching puppy to come when called

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  • Teaching puppy to come when called

    Just what the title says...I have a ten month old Aussie who is wonderful in every way, except she won't come when called if there's anything else she wants to do. Or anyone she wants to see. Or things to investigate. If there are no more interesting options, she'll come.

    It drives me nuts. I've taken her to two courses of puppy class, I have doggie treats in my pockets at the ready to reward her. She was the star of puppy class, both times. But out in the real world, all bets are off.

    What am I missing here?

    I've had dogs my whole life. I've had so-called easy breeds and hard ones, too. But I've never had one who wouldn't come when called.

    Help.

  • #2
    I think keeping working on obedience will help. I remember being in a class years ago. The instructor told us that she had so many clients that told her that if they could just teach the dog to come when called, they really didn't care about the rest of the obedience. She said that getting a reliable recall is one of the hardest things in training, and from my experience that can be true.
    I have found that some of my dogs have been more easily distracted than others. I think that part of it is just temperament, and so working on obedience in more distracting environments will help. Try easier tasks (sit, down, stay) in more distracting environments. Set her recalls up for success. Shorten the distance she is expected to come, and put a long line on her if you have to. Only go out 1 foot if that is what you have to do. Go to her level right now and work from there. Make sure that she has a positive experience every single time she comes to you.
    The only other thing I could think of would be to also try higher value treats or a reward of playing with a toy sometimes instead. Good luck. More classes might help and be fun for her, too.

    Comment


    • #3
      You keep them on a leash or long line, and use high value treats to reward them. You never ask them to come, if you aren't sure they will come or you can't enforce it if they don't. make coming to you more interesting than anything else around.Once they seem to come under controlled conditions, like in backyard, randomly call them to you, highly praise/treat, and release them to go back to playing. You don't want to teach them that when they come to you the fun ends.

      Once they come under controlled conditions, take the dog out on a long line and start adding distractions. Start small, like just being somewhere new, and gradually increase to other dogs around, kids playing, bike riders, cats, squirrels etc. All while on a long line.


      **Make sure the treats you use are REALLY good. Better than what she usually gets. Tiny pieces of cut up hot dog or cheese work well.

      Comment


      • #4
        Yeah, with a dog like this, you never want to give them the opportunity to say NO and get away with it, so you only have them off of a lead when you KNOW they will come. If that is never right now, then put her on a leash and tie it to you.

        When she DOES say no, I've always had better luck walking down the leash or long line versus hauling them in with it on a refusal, too. Call the dog, and if it doesn't come then literally put your feet on the leash and walk down the length, then take the dog by the collar and walk it back to where you were, then praise. Don't throw party, but give it a couple "good dog!"s and move on. No emotion while walking down the leash or taking the dog back.

        When she DOES come on her own, be sure to throw a BIG party, with high value treats or toys or whatever else motivates her.

        Comment


        • #5
          I used a radio shock collar. I called him and only if he ignored the call he got a correction. That was three years ago, I don't know where the collar is now. He comes immediately when called.

          One more thing... Never punish her when she does come. Even if you've been calling for HOURS...When she comes to you, make sure it's ALWAYS a good thing for the dog.
          Equus makus brokus but happy

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree with posters above - use a long leash (or lunge line) and work on the command and provide lots and lots of praise and high-value treats.

            But I think it's also important to be realistic - she is a puppy. So it's one thing to play off leash for 15-20 minutes and keep coming back to you for those high-value treats, but if you expect perfect behavior for 2 hours, I think you'll be disappointed.

            I had a dog that could be trusted with 100% recall his entire life. Boy were we spoiled! We thought it was our excellent training. Ha! Enter 2nd dog, who gave us the middle paw so often he thought his name was "get over here you little bastard!" He is now 11 and hardly strays from my side, but for him, it was unrealistic to expect this behavior at 12 months.

            My 3rd dog is turning 3 and we use an e-collar/hunting collar on him off leash. He is super smart, and absolutely understands the command to "come". But he's a very driven hunting dog, and even high value treats are not enough "reward" for him when he's off leash in a "hunting environment". It was very easy to train him to the e-collar, and we use it when he's off leash.

            When he's not "hunting", he is not off-leash, except occasionally, when we have him under direct supervision. We are hoping to work him up to being trusted off-leash a little more as he gets older (and we can supervise), but he is not going to be the dog you can let out by himself and he'll be back at the door in 10 minutes, or that will hang around while I do barn chores. He will find something to hunt and will disappear if I'm not watching. So we just have to deal with that. He has a 30' tether on a swivel stake in the yard for when we can't supervise him.

            Good luck!

            Comment


            • #7
              Confine and train, as others have pointed out already.

              Too bad she has learned already she doesn't has to watch for you and follow your wishes.
              'S ok, now you will have to work a bit harder to get her to learn what the rules of this world are for dogs, but now this is going to be completely on YOUR shoulders.
              She is a dog and a puppy yet and you are the smarter of the pair.
              Remember, a free dog is one that is reliable and for that, during the learning phase, it will be a confined dog, until it earns that freedom.

              Train and confine is your friend, for as long as it takes.

              Comment


              • #8
                What jetsmom said.

                And as Bluey said, she's already learned there's nothing you can do about getting her to come so she now knows she can ignore you so she needs to be back on the long line for quite a while, but patience, it (and she) will come, but she must absolutely know there simply is No Other Option.

                Now we will flip it from you MUST come to you're ALLOWED to come. Let's make this a totally different mindset to your dog.

                Along with your other things as mentioned above in other posts, work on making Coming to you a privilege.

                When I started in Schutzhund I was blown away by the rocket recalls those dogs had. They could not WAIT to zoom across the field on a recall as fast as they could run. I thought that's the kind of Recall I want, not the trot or walk you see in the Obedience ring, or the reluctant returns while looking and sniffing along the way you see IRL.

                These dogs are trained by having someone hold the puppy on a lead, while the owner runs away a short distance and has the dog's most favorite toy, ball, or tug. The dog doesn't always have a mountain of toys to play with - toys come out ONLY at training time so the value is high - and here's the puppy not allowed to run to the owner & the toy the owner is waving around!

                When puppy's held back on the lead while the owner waves the toy around it builds the drive to RUN to the owner. When the puppy is pulling & jumping against the restraint the owner calls Here or Come or whatever you choose and at that very moment the person lets go the lead so the puppy shoots to the owner (start with short distances & work up to longer) where it's met with great praise and a chance to play with the toy for a short time. Then it must drop the toy and this is repeated. Session ends with puppy being allowed to carry off the toy in triumph back to the car/house/crate. Puppy doesn't get to keep the toy all day, though. When the session is over, the toys go away til next time. Training sessions are kept short (like 5 minutes - you can do 2-3 a day, separated by several hours, but keep 'em SHORT) and (IMPORTANT!) you must end when enthusiasm is still very high. Leave her wanting MORE. She'll be more eager to race to you next time.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The above suggestions are great.

                  I'd just mention DON'T GIVE UP. I think a lot of people (including me) get complacent about a good recall when they have tons of space for the dogs to explore their "perimeter" without ending up on the road or someone else's property or when they're in a fenced yard else on a leash. But a good recall is really nice to have.

                  It could save their life too.

                  I had pretty much given up on working on recall with my lab because anywhere we went he either had plenty of space to roam without getting in trouble or was in a fenced yard. If at the former, he'd come back when he was done checking stuff out. I never worried about him running off, but I certainly didn't have a lot of control. Stupid on my part.
                  A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                  Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Another tip: choose your commands carefully to be fair & consistent with your dog.

                    For instance, if I say HERE, that means come as fast as you can straight as an arrow and sit in front of me. If I say COME, that means come to my general vicinity, but I'm not looking for precision reporting in for duty. Some people use "Come" or "To me" or "Get over here" or "Get back here." Like if we're walking and they're getting a little far ahead, or if in the backyard and the neighbor's dog is out and I want my dog to hang around closer to me and not get into fence running.

                    So my dogs don't always have to perform a perfect Recall. They know to romp back to me when I say Come and they'll be praised for that, and they know that Here means come straight all the way to me.

                    So you can use Come in every-day hanging out situations, and Here in important situations when you must call your dog back from danger or whatever and need them to book it back to you asap.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Anne FS View Post
                      Another tip: choose your commands carefully to be fair & consistent with your dog.

                      For instance, if I say HERE, that means come as fast as you can straight as an arrow and sit in front of me. If I say COME, that means come to my general vicinity, but I'm not looking for precision reporting in for duty. Some people use "Come" or "To me" or "Get over here" or "Get back here." Like if we're walking and they're getting a little far ahead, or if in the backyard and the neighbor's dog is out and I want my dog to hang around closer to me and not get into fence running.

                      So my dogs don't always have to perform a perfect Recall. They know to romp back to me when I say Come and they'll be praised for that, and they know that Here means come straight all the way to me.

                      So you can use Come in every-day hanging out situations, and Here in important situations when you must call your dog back from danger or whatever and need them to book it back to you asap.
                      We do that a bit different.
                      "Come" or "Front", pick one, is a harsher, short word and means come right here this minute and sit in front of me and wait for your next command.
                      We use Front and then Heel, that means either swing around into heel position on the left, or go around into heel position on the left, a hand signal determining which.

                      "Here" means more come here right quick and see what we are doing, that may be sit by or in front of me, or jump the next obedience sequence, or weave, go over the A frame, go thru this tunnel, lets get in the car, whatever.

                      The "here" is more of an active command as we are doing things, not necessarily come to sit in front of me.
                      Maybe when moving cattle may mean here, move this cow, not that other and so on.

                      Think what you do with your dog and use whatever works for that, in the way it will make sense to you.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                        Think what you do with your dog and use whatever works for that, in the way it will make sense to you.
                        This is good advice.

                        I have different commands for my dog also -- "Come" means come all the way to me; "This way" means go in the direction I'm going. They don't have to come all the way to me, but it means stop doing what you're doing and change directions. I also can point in different directions and tell him to "Go Look" for birds. That one is a work in progress...he definitely gets the "look" part but not always where.

                        Think of the commands you want your dog to have and choose your command words carefully - then be consistent with them.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yep, that's it. Better for the dog - they totally get "get closer to me" regardless of whether I'm moving or walking, and the other Word which truly means come all the way to me. If *you're* consistent, they'll be consistent.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            How to train the recall:

                            1. Only call them when they're coming. I know that sounds silly, but have you ever had your dog not come to a meal? It reinforces the behavior like a conditioned reflex.

                            2. Do not repeat commands.

                            3. Don't set yourself up for failure by calling when you can't enforce it.

                            4. Don't punish the recall. This is tough. It's like your dog just did the most ridiculous thing and you're completely pissed off -he knows. You have to call like good things are going to happen, even if you're saying, "come here you little bastard so I can kill you".


                            Paula (owned by sighthounds)
                            He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              well, 10 months is a hard age in general- that's when they are being snotty adolescents. They get better with age.

                              Remember that when training a dog to do anything there are three phases- communication/ motivation/ and proofing.
                              Proofing is what you do to get the dog to be reliable anywhere, anytime, no matter what, with any command. You need to slowly, oh so slowly, increase the level of background distractions while still setting the dog up for success with each command. Most people seem to grasp this idea when training other commands, like the stay- they slowly work through gradually increasing difficulties and levels of distractions. But people don't seem to be able to think this way about the recall- they want it to work instantly in the real world without going through the many slow steps of proofing. So they end up "ruining" their recall command- they set the dog up to fail, over and over again, until the dog learns to ignore the recall command, instead of doing it gradually and slowly with the dog set up to succeed.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                The Penn Vet Working Dog Center FB page has videos. Now, they're teaching puppies to Search, not Recall, so their human runs out of sight, but videos like this give you an idea: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=548000778543424

                                and here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v...type=3&theater

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  except she won't come when called if there's anything else she wants to do. Or anyone she wants to see. Or things to investigate. If there are no more interesting options, she'll come.
                                  another avenue for exploration- try to make yourself more interesting to the dog. Maybe she thinks you and your chosen dog treats are boring? have you tried other avenues of reward for coming to you- many herding dogs are far more interesting in games, toys, even the chance to work, than they are in food. Or maybe you hand out the food in a boring way- if you watch the Really Reliable Recall DVD, she talks about how to feed the dog in an exciting, meaningful way vs. just giving the dog a tidbit.

                                  Have you tried to make yourself more exciting? do fun things suddenly, like you're out walking and you suddenly shriek the dog's name and take off running and when pup catches up to you it's time for a fun game of chase and wrestle. Or hide a toy ahead of time and pretend to discover it and when the pup comes over to see what amazing thing you found, it's time for a game. Things that convince the dog you're worth paying attention to, at least a little bit, all of the time.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Anne FS View Post
                                    The Penn Vet Working Dog Center FB page has videos. Now, they're teaching puppies to Search, not Recall, so their human runs out of sight, but videos like this give you an idea: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=548000778543424

                                    and here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v...type=3&theater
                                    We used to play search games with our dogs back in the day. We'd hide and at some point they'd look up and not find us and then search us out with their noses. They would be exuberant when they found us (okay, we'd peak out and call them if they got confused). Maybe we inadvertently taught them to pay attention to us?

                                    Paula
                                    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I have a crinkly bag of stinky treats that my pup loves-when I need her to come right now on the first call I crinkle that bag, crouch down and give her the "real" command, which for us is HERE Dog'sname. With five dogs, I can say HEREPOCKET and get Pocket instead of the other four and not pocket but all dogs pay attention.

                                      I've been uping the ante on her as far as distractions and pressure and she's doing great for a little chi. When I feed her, I call her to the bowl with a Here. When she's running to me happy in the barn, I call her with a Here. Anytime I have an extra treat to give her I say Here when I give it to her.

                                      Mine's a 7 month old chi/min pin (we think) mix so not the easiest of critters either but yours (and mine) are smart and will catch on. But make sure you instill it somehow-I will use the e collar on mine for final training.

                                      My parents had a dog run over in the interstate in front of their horrified eyes because their little dachie wouldn't come when she was called-after she jumped out behind my dad when he stopped to change a flat... on the interstate, in the middle of Denver, at rush hour. He still has PTSD over it-I train my dogs until I know they would pass that test.
                                      “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

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