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Hi everyone,
I have taught my dog to come when called. I brought her to a little field that I owned and let her stretch her legs and run off leash. There are bushes around the field and I saw my dog trying to chase something. It was a snake. I called my dog but she didn't come back. Here's the thing. She always comes back to me when called because I always give her favorite food when she comes back. But when she is chasing something, like squirrels, lizards, cats, and snakes, it seems like cheese won't cut it. Chasing something is too rewarding for her, and she won't come back. She isn't a type of dog who goes crazy for toys, either, not even squeaky ones. Any advice?
 

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Dont let her off leash, keep her on a long line.

If your dog finds a snake or a squirrel more interesting than you, there's a lot of dangers that can present themselves.

I'd suggest working harder on recalls - coming when called 90% ir 99% of the time isn't good enough. An offleash dog could mean life or death.
 

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Agreed^^ My dogs are so prey driven, I could never override that intinct even with the best treat rewards, so I never ever let my dogs off leash. They are the type to lose their heads when in persuit and can't think straight. They wouldn't think twice about chasing a cat across the street and that just presents too much danger.
 

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If the dog has a lot of prey drive, you keep working on what you are doing and you can use a long line.. but in the end the dog know the line is there and cannot ever be off leash or line. Ever.

This is where I begin e collar training in an enclosed area. If you choose to do this do it with someone who knows what they are doing. I will add that on a walk where there are things to chase the dog will always need to wear an e collar if off leash. Usually just the collar being on the dog they understand and keep an ear on you for recall.

I hike where deer are as common as mosquitoes in a swamp. If the dog starts a chase he would likely run himself to death.. or cross a road and get hit or get lost or a plethora of other dangers. He wears his e collar and recalls perfectly every time. I do not remember the last time I had to actually stim him to get a recall. The collar is insurance. Better to have and not need than to need and not have.
 

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@3GSD4IPO Just a heads up, the dog is seven months - I only mention it because I know you've said you don't use e-collars on puppies in the past!

@CaramelTheRescue Prey drive is definitely a challenging thing to deal with if you want a really reliable off-leash dog. The long line is a great option to start, but there's a few other things you can do as well.

When you're not out off-leash, work like crazy on reinforcing their name ("Caramel!" + immediate treat, whatever her response is), collar grab, etc. Make all those behaviors super reliable, so that when you say her name she orients on you instantly, before she even thinks about it, and when you go for her collar she instinctively leans in and comes closer. By working to make all these little pieces fun and rewarding, you'll have a better foundation for recall outside the home/yard.

When out off-leash or with a long line, make sure you're also rewarding any and every time the puppy chooses to check in with you, even it it's just a pause to look back at a distance, you can still make a big verbal fuss about what a good girl she is! This reinforces that you're great to be around and come back to, even outside of a recall cue.

Make releasing her back to the environment part of your reward. You call, give her a treat and a fuss, and then deliberately give her a release cue like "free" or "go run" or whatever you want. You may have to ask her for a sit or other stationary behavior before you do this, at least at first, to pre-empt her running off on her own. This small change actually gives you a reward that's way better than any treat or toy for most dogs - freedom! When you use freedom and access to the environment as a reward, you're giving the dog what they want the most in that moment, and it makes recalls even more valuable because the reward is more valuable. Sounds counterintuitive, I know, but trust me, it's extremely effective. It also reinforces that coming to you is not the end of off-leash time, which is super important for keeping a recall strong.

If and only if it is safe to do so, you can also release her to run after birds and critters. This is something I would ONLY do in an area that's securely fenced (she won't try to jump or scale it when she's in drive), and when the critter in question is clearly going to be able to easily escape. It's the same principle as above, but even more rewarding for a prey driven dog. I would NOT do this when out in the woods or field, because many prey driven dogs will just keep going and going and you'll lose them.

Also remember that she's an adolescent now. It's very common for adolescent dogs to become more environment focused and less glued to their person's side, and it's also common for them to test boundaries on behaviors they used to be brilliant at. Sometimes that means you have to revoke privileges like off-leash time until they mature some and are more level-headed and reliable again. But keep up with the training, because even if she's acting like a teenage tyrant, the foundation you're building will matter as she grows into an adult dog!
 

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It took me 2 years to get a reliable recall off leash.

There's no way your 7 month old is ready.
 

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A lot of it has to do with age. At 7 months, the dog is still a puppy and just doesn't have the presence of mind to turn off their impulse to chase and respond to the recall. It's best to keep them on a long line until they grow a brain again.

I also always kept a really great "super special" treat, like hot dogs or deli meat, that he never got except for when he did a difficult recall, like when there was an interesting animal to chase. A recall like that always resulted in a jackpot of special treats and a party.
 
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