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My little 85lb buddy turned 1 this weekend, so as a bday present, I took him to a dog beach in the area. We both had tons of fun. Nothing like letting my overly social lab who loves all other dogs and people run off leash. There was one thing that concerned me, though - He bolted on numerous occasions. Not bolt to get away from me, more like bolt cause he saw another dog 200yds away that he just HAD to meet..when there were 10 other dogs around him to play with. :confused:

I do a lot of off leash and long leash (50 ft) training with him. He's pretty good with the recall, so after his bolts, once I am within earshot of him with the crashing waves (~50yds), if I call him, he comes back to me.

He's typically not a bolter. I can leave the front door open at home, and he won't go outside until I say so. He's often in my driveway with me off leash, and generally hangs around. So I know it's because of the other dogs.

How do I train him that he can't bolt to meet a dogs that's say, more than 50 yds away? I went with a couple of friends, and their dogs more or less stayed close to them.

You're collective help is appreciated!
 

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Not so much that I'll lose him, cause once I catch up to his general area, I give him the recall command, and he comes back. The problem is that I want him to always be no more than ~50 yds from me because:

1. If he happens to meet an aggressive dog, I'll have a chance to run up to him.

2. I want him to always be with earshot of me, so I can call him back instantly.

3. I want to always be able to keep an eye on him.

In general, I just think keeping my dog more or less around me is a good/safe thing to do.
 

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Train the dog to respond to a whistle, and any reasonable distance becomes a non-factor. WRT to bolting towards another dog, you just have to train for the new distraction. New set of distractions, really. What you've previously done to train recall is the fix for this "new" problem. If at all possible, take him down to the dog beach on a weekday when the same distractions are present, but in a smaller number. Keep the dog on a 100 ft. line while you work on it.
 

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We had identical problem and dog. E-collar worked very well for us. A decent one will have a range of 1/2 mile, far more than enough. Ideal, IMHO, if your dog really knows the recall command but ignores you on occasion when he sees other dogs. Allows you to enforce the command every time without fail. Do your research though and use properly. Cost around $200. Labs have really thick coats so get one with longer (say 3/4") probes. Hopefully use for a while then put away. Investment well worth the money if it works. I agree with OP, leaving the dog run loose on a beach or in a park is fantastic, but must be able to get him back on command for his and other's safety.
 

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Yeah, for some reason, I don't think the novelty will ever wear off. :( He gets sooo happy and excited when he sees other dogs.

I've thought of the E-Collar, but I doubt they make them waterproof. I can practice this training at a local dog park, but I'm hesistant on bring him there because a lot of the dogs there are not very nice/social.

Going there with a long leash when there is less distractions sounds like a good idea. I'll have to try that. Thanks!

You guys think the fact that he's not neutered (planning on doing it in about 3 months) has anything to do with this? Deep down, I'm hoping that he becomes less dog-obsessed after surgery. :rolleyes:
 

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Quality E-collars are 100% waterproof. They're used a lot in training hunting dogs / bird dogs who do water retrieves.

I don't think neutering will have any significant effect. (BTW you should probably wait until he is at least 2 yrs old before doing that, if you really must). Just getting older (calmer) may have some effect, but IMHO recall training is super important and worth putting the effort into.

Good luck.
 

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I don't like ecollars for several reasons and I don't want this to become a debate about the use of them BUT:

If you do go the ecollar route, please be sure to not only get a good quality one but find a GOOD negative reinforcement trainer (as opposed to positive punishment) trainer to TEACH you how to use it properly, how it works and how not to end up with a collar dependent dog.

Really all I think you need to do here is proof your recall under higher distractions. The whistle recall is a good idea, as it covers distance and is a CLEAR signal to your dog. The higher the distraction, the higher value the rewards must be. The first step is to find a way to keep the dog from practicing the behaviour...the long lead is helpful for this, though do be aware that in a really dog busy area this can also be a safety issue and you MUST supervise carefully that the dogs don't get tangled up.

It is possible to teach a reliable recall without use of aversives. If it isn't happening it's usually a trainer mistake that ruins it.
 

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It is possible to teach a reliable recall without use of aversives. If it isn't happening it's usually a trainer mistake that ruins it.
I'll go along with that. Since the subject came up, I'll say that training a strong recall before introducing the collar is not just "ideal", it is mandatory. I have no problems with e-collars (I use one with my dog) but most dogs don't require them. However, before introducing the e-collar, I had his recall very tight in all the locales, and with all the distractions that we commonly encounter. At the beach, other dogs, people flying kites, people para-surfing, and toddlers running around all get ignored when I blow the whistle. All that can easily be accomplished without remote electronics.

Get your dog to where he needs to be, before introducing the collar, and you will most likely be more than satisfied with what you got. Labs tend to be easy to recall anyway. If he blows off the command, 99 times out of 100 running away from him should kick his getalong into gear.
 

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OP. Cracker and Marsh Muppet are correct you don't need to use an e-collar, it just happens to be a very very good tool to accomplish exactly what you are looking to do. It absolutely must be used properly but it is simple enough just do your research.

Look, many people passionately believe you should never say 'No' to the dog or give him a leash correction or stare at him etc. If your in that camp then you are not going to like e-collars. If you do do those things, then you should consider the e-collar. The intensity level adjustment on them is very fine, and you use just enough juice to get the dogs attention. Less rough than a leash correction and, critically, with perfect timing and at any distance.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm sure the E-Collar has worked for many people, but I'm not sure I'd want to use it right now. Like some of you said, I'd rather work on a strong/reliable recall before trying the E-Collar...partly because I wouldn't know when/how to use it, and I don't want my dog to become E-Collar dependent.

As I mentioned in my original post, he's pretty good with the recall once he stops running and reaches the dog that he bolted for, but honestly, I've never tried the recall while he's in the act of bolting. I figure that he wouldn't respond, and I don't like doing recall when I know he won't come back, and I can't enforce it (i.e. on a long lead).

I was hoping that there was a way to teach him that bolting in the first place is not allowed. I have a feeling that once he starts bolting, he's already in such a high level of excitement that any form of recall would not work.
 

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I was hoping that there was a way to teach him that bolting in the first place is not allowed. I have a feeling that once he starts bolting, he's already in such a high level of excitement that any form of recall would not work.
That's where a whistle and a long line comes in handy. You still have control, and the whistle can get his attention. The dog has probably factored in that, if he runs off to greet a "new best friend" (part of the deal when you get a Lab or Golden), you will go traipsing after him and collect him. Try getting his attention by blowing the whistle in hysterical short bursts (3-short is the standard recall, but you can use any pattern you like) and running the other way. This has the effect of: a) making you much more interesting than you were a second ago; b) giving him something to chase, and; c) creating a puzzle that he has to solve. Your new and unexplainable behavior stimulates his curiosity, and very few things motivate a Lab like satisfying his curiosity. They also get a bit anxious about losing you. This works for you too, as the cessation of anxiety upon returning to you is self reinforcing.

Nobody really knows what goes on in a dog's head, but that's my interpretation of it. Either way, it works for people-dependent type dogs.

PS: dog training often goes much easier for people who have abandoned any sense of personal dignity. Getting a dog's attention and enticing him to come back to you may require that you act like a complete lunatic. My pup would always come back to me if I flopped on the ground and whooped like a loon. It was always my fail-safe recall method. I learned this when I slipped on the ice--he just got SO FREAKIN' HAPPY! So do whatever it takes to get him back so you can reward him.
 

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If hes like my lab was at that age he will definitely come to you ..... about 20 seconds after checking out the other dog. The incentive and excitement of seeing the other dog can be really really high.

Worth a try though.
 
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