Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
215 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am having trouble proofing my dog Z's recall, an issue I never had with my other dogs. I don't have an e-collar, are there any proofing tips that don't involve one?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,214 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
628 Posts
In my experience, if you are having trouble proofing, you haven't got the recall solid enough under less trying circumstances. Take a step back to the level where the dog was last absolutely successful. Work on that some more, build the dog's confidence and yours, then very gradually introduce mild distractions, slowly working toward higher level distractions. I never went from the backyard to competition. We went to classes at several unfamiliar facilities, worked up and down the aisles of PetsMart, in parking lots and parks, etc. Recall is a hard one for that, of course. In places like PM you can only do short little leash length recalls, but I think it helps to increase the habit anywhere and everywhere.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,441 Posts
a 50 foot lead line can work well with some caution about getting legs tangled up in it. A horse lunge line from Tractor Supply or similar is an easily accessible long line. A biothane tracking line is a bit lighter and smoother.

If dog does not recall, you just reel 'em in. no option to ignore the recall.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,523 Posts
Just a note about long lines: They should always and only be used on a harness. A dog running with 50ft of slack can get a lot more momentum than a dog on a regular 6ft lead, and you do not want that all transferring into a collar if the dog hits the end of the long line.

Knowing why Z's struggling with recall might be helpful, since you might need to approach things differently with a dog who just thinks playing keep-away from you is fun vs. a dog who's so focused on or overwhelmed by the environment they can't respond vs. issues caused by prey drive etc. etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,796 Posts
A question I always ask:
From the dog's point of view, why should he come when called? Because you said so is notban answer.

Before you proof recalls, your dog should be so EAGER to come when called that he flies when you call. "Here!" Dog comes. You mark. Dispense food. BORING. Unless the dog is fearful, make it FUN; Make it EXCITING when he gets to you. Play play play. If your dog likes tug.. play this and let the dog win (gets the tug toy and you let go).

Word about long lines. The recall on a long line is fine, but he knows it is on. Off the line he might not be reliable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
508 Posts
I touch up recall weekly in my front yard. I start with a long line, its usually not needed but great for making sure your dog doesn't ignore you. When he comes, I am a very HAPPY treat dispenser. I jump around, I clap, I pet him. Its the most exiting thing EVER. Dogs are smart, they know when they are off lead. Even when my dog is off leash, I have him ON a leash (a 6ft leash that drags behind him) so I can grab him decently easy if I do need to. He doesn't ever ignore recalls, after several years of work (yay!).. it takes a lot of time, especially if you aren't using a E-collar. ( I trained mine without even owning one ) .. good luck
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,796 Posts
You don't need to have an e collar to train a good recall. I don't actually recommend it!

Just wanted to clarify.

I don't ever say, "Let's train recall" and then reach for the e collar.

As I have noted, it's on the dog in case I need it in very specific situations. Rarely do I actually need to USE it because of all the training.

Sort of a "prefer to have and not need than to need and not have!"
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
215 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you for all your advice!
-Her main issue seems to be prey drive. She will listen at unlimited distance in the fields or the woods on the farm, but if she's on the trail of some animal, she will only listen if the long lead is on. (I have a 100-foot lead, and I do use a harness).
-That is a good idea about letting a shorter leash drag, I will try that.
-Many people said a lot about being fun, but if my dog is can see a deer, it doesn't matter what I do. Also, in regards to working up to it slowly, any advice on how to do that? Of course, I have no way to set up a practice session around something like a deer.
( 3GSD4IPO, thank you for the training resource )
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
12,163 Posts
Do NOT try this at home . . .

When I was a kid, I had a beagle. I did a bit of rabbit hunting. When a beagle is trailing a rabbit, the rabbit will run in a large circle and, ideally, end up in about the same spot where the dog first discovered the scent. You should be there, ready to shoot a rabbit (though I never particularly enjoyed that part of it and eventually started leaving the shotgun at home.) You can monitor the progress of the dog by listening for your dog's howling. If you happen to be hunting with a pack, each one has a distinctive howl. I very much enjoyed that part of it.

If your beagle happens across a deer, the deer doesn't understand the rules and runs a straight line headed for the next county. You hear the dog baying but if you don't act quickly, the baying and your dog will fade into the distance. I found that firing my shotgun in the air, while the dog was still within earshot, would generally bring him back. (This is the part you shouldn't try at home.) I guessed that he figured I'd fired at a rabbit and probably missed. If I waited too long, or I'd left the shotgun at home, plan B involved getting back to the car ASAP, driving about ten miles down the road, and listening for my dog and then trying to head him off. Mine was a 15" beagle and came from a line of field champions, but he was a bit too large and fast to be a great rabbit hunter. (If the rabbit feels too threatened, he'll just go down a hole.) But he excelled at chasing deer.

Reliable recall for a beagle in the woods is a reality that can never be realized, IMO. I'm amazed that we never lost him for more than a few hours.

Fast forward to a few months ago. Franklin slipped out of the yard and was adventuring around the neighborhood. I encountered Franklin and a mail carrier a block or two from home, but Franklin was not interested in going home just yet. The mail carrier asked if she blew her air horn if I thought it would frighten Franklin into running home. I said, "One way to find out." She blew her air horn and Franklin immediately ran over to her and jumped into her arms. I'm thinking of getting an air horn. It's got to be more acceptable in the middle of town than firing a shotgun into the air.

Sorry for the slightly off-topic post. Feel free to complain to the moderators.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 3GSD4IPO

·
Registered
Joined
·
215 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Do NOT try this at home . . .

When I was a kid, I had a beagle. I did a bit of rabbit hunting. When a beagle is trailing a rabbit, the rabbit will run in a large circle and, ideally, end up in about the same spot where the dog first discovered the scent. You should be there, ready to shoot a rabbit (though I never particularly enjoyed that part of it and eventually started leaving the shotgun at home.) You can monitor the progress of the dog by listening for your dog's howling. If you happen to be hunting with a pack, each one has a distinctive howl. I very much enjoyed that part of it.

If your beagle happens across a deer, the deer doesn't understand the rules and runs a straight line headed for the next county. You hear the dog baying but if you don't act quickly, the baying and your dog will fade into the distance. I found that firing my shotgun in the air, while the dog was still within earshot, would generally bring him back. (This is the part you shouldn't try at home.) I guessed that he figured I'd fired at a rabbit and probably missed. If I waited too long, or I'd left the shotgun at home, plan B involved getting back to the car ASAP, driving about ten miles down the road, and listening for my dog and then trying to head him off. Mine was a 15" beagle and came from a line of field champions, but he was a bit too large and fast to be a great rabbit hunter. (If the rabbit feels too threatened, he'll just go down a hole.) But he excelled at chasing deer.

Reliable recall for a beagle in the woods is a reality that can never be realized, IMO. I'm amazed that we never lost him for more than a few hours.

Fast forward to a few months ago. Franklin slipped out of the yard and was adventuring around the neighborhood. I encountered Franklin and a mail carrier a block or two from home, but Franklin was not interested in going home just yet. The mail carrier asked if she blew her air horn if I thought it would frighten Franklin into running home. I said, "One way to find out." She blew her air horn and Franklin immediately ran over to her and jumped into her arms. I'm thinking of getting an air horn. It's got to be more acceptable in the middle of town than firing a shotgun into the air.

Sorry for the slightly off-topic post. Feel free to complain to the moderators.
😂
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
628 Posts
Before you proof recalls, your dog should be so EAGER to come when called that he flies when you call. "Here!" Dog comes. You mark. Dispense food. BORING.
I think this is another area where dog breed and individual dog make a difference. My Rotties don't consider anything edible boring until you get down to the Iceberg lettuce level. I am going to add more play as reward and reinforcement in training my next dog, but since I'm looking for a smaller breed, it won't be indicative of how my Rotties would have responded.

And as to the whole off leash thing, in my breed research I see some breeds such as the Shiba Inu where the common advice is never let them off leash. Reading Shiba forums gives you the idea that some individuals are okay off leash on hikes, etc., but I wonder if people who have lost their dog doing that admit it.

So what I'm saying is I think this whole going for off leash hikes thing is probably related to dog breed and individual dog. I had Akitas back in the dark ages. They were always off leash. They followed me on horseback trail rides, were loose on horse show grounds and always at home and when I visited others. Neither one ever failed to stick around, come when I was ready to go home (not speedily, but they did it). However, they didn't have high prey drive. They amused themselves going after mice in the barn, but they were never a problem with cats or kittens or other dogs, never chased horses or other livestock. I called one off a loose domestic rabbit once.

Digression: Every time I see modern descriptions of Akita temperament it leaves me sad. Did breeders somehow change the breed temperament from what I knew to dogs often aggressive to humans and other dogs by selecting for larger bone and other physical traits or just ignoring temperament in selection for conformation show winners? Were my two dogs from different lines rarities? Guess I'll never know. End digression.

My Rotties? Very different from the Akitas. Raised from puppies with my cats, they were okay, but any other cat? Prey. The reason I gave up any thought of herding? Their attitude when seeing a sheep was: Lamb chop! (There are, of course, Rotties that are much less prey driven. That's where the individual within the breed thing comes into play.) Could a skilled trainer get my girls to herd without injury to sheep? Sure, and I bet there would be some skilled use of aversives, but I'm not interested just in titles. My interest is in doing things with my dogs that I can train and do myself, and I'd need to study herding with much easier dogs for longer than I'm willing to. Maybe if I'd started this dog stuff decades ago, but I didn't.

So I think someone wanting to hike off leash with a dog ought to be considering what kind of dog with an eye toward that and probably shouldn't be considering a Siberian Husky or Shiba Inu. Further, even within certain breeds, they should be considering particular lines, parents, and individuals.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,796 Posts
Yes. Dog breed has much to do with it.

It is also true that most people live in cities and their dogs may never be off leash.

Those people have no concept of how much fun it is to trail ride a nice horse with a nice dog along.. or to work cattle with a horse and a dog.. or to take a hike and have the dog with you and no leash.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
12,163 Posts
or to take a hike and have the dog with you and no leash.
I belong to a Facebook group for people who hike with dogs. I'm astounded at the people who hike with multiple dogs (sometimes 3-5) and often they are Siberians or other northern breeds or high-content wolf hybrids.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
628 Posts
I belong to a Facebook group for people who hike with dogs. I'm astounded at the people who hike with multiple dogs (sometimes 3-5) and often they are Siberians or other northern breeds or high-content wolf hybrids.
Yup, and somehow I bet they don't care one bit about other people walking their one dog on leash that those loose dogs run up to and bother. That's the reason I had to give up walking my dogs on leash around my own neighborhood. I frankly don't give a d*mn whether your dog is friendly, and as far as I'm concerned if you can't keep it from running up to me, it's out of control. I've had a broken hip and shattered elbow already in my life. Friendly dogs knocking me down can be as damaging as unfriendly dogs. And then there's how my dog feels about it.

Edit: Whoops. I have no idea what senior brain lapse caused me to type "shattered elbow" above. It was an ankle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
628 Posts
P.S. And if you're thinking, "This is the woman who just posted about her always-loose Akitas back in the day." That was one other great thing about the Akitas. They were reserved dogs, always tolerant of people who wanted to greet them, but not outgoing dogs who'd go up to strangers and solicit attention. They were pretty indifferent to other dogs too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,441 Posts
Yes. Dog breed has much to do with it.

It is also true that most people live in cities and their dogs may never be off leash.

Those people have no concept of how much fun it is to trail ride a nice horse with a nice dog along.. or to work cattle with a horse and a dog.. or to take a hike and have the dog with you and no leash.
I think breed matters as does individual dog personality of course, but I also think that too many people (this is an observation from my area and my experiences) think its important or somehow extra fun to have a dog off leash in circumstance where it really is not adding much or any fun.

Basically, cost to benefit ratio.

Recall is important to train regardless of intent to walk off leash because mistakes happen. Doors or fences get opened at the wrong timing or a leash breaks etc.

I have ridden horses many miles with a dog or dogs alongside, I have not worked cattle but have worked horse herds, and I have hiked with dogs on and off leash and that is the one that puzzles me. It just doesn't seem to be a big deal to use a leash and probably 95% of people are hiking where they should be using a leash to be either safe and/or to be considerate of others and of wildlife.

I guess my point is that there are dangers to holding up the ability (or choice?) to have a dog off leash in public as a desirable trait and proof of training skill. I am not saying that is the conversation here per se but it is definitely something I see around. "My dog can go off leash" vs not even if neither really should be off leash.

It is something that should suit the dog and not be asked of the dog if it does not suit the dog and location
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,523 Posts
I know there's some people who work really hard to be able to run their northern breeds, sighthounds, hunting breeds, etc. off-leash, but there's always going to be a bigger risk with these dogs than others. The owners have to decide for themselves if the risk is worth the benefit, and the risks can be different depending on the area. You mention a farm that sounds like it might be yours/your family's: if you're in an area with livestock I'd be much more cautious about a prey-driven dog being off leash. If she ever gets away from you and winds up worrying sheep or similar, being shot is a very possible and very sad outcome. Only you can really judge what the risk of that is, because you know the area and her and we don't.

I'd also consider sticking with a long-line only during late winter- end of spring, since that's baby animal season and it can be a riskier time for both dogs and wildlife because of it, no matter how good her recall becomes. It's actually illegal to let dogs off-leash just about anywhere during this time in Norway - luckily we know a large (as in trails, river, and wooded areas) fenced dog park that has a legal exemption to that rule, but it's far enough away that our boys spend most of the spring on long lines.

There is, imo, a difference between a dog with prey drive, a dog with high prey drive, and a dog with all-consuming prey drive like in 3GSD and RonE's example. Working hunting dogs often fall into the last category - in rural areas here it's not uncommon for people into hunting to own their own microchip reader for when a lost hunting dog shows up at their or their neighbor's doors. It's not super common in my in-laws' area, but they've had it happen a handful of times in the almost four decades they've lived there, and had to retrieve their dogs once or twice when they had hunting dachshunds. GPS collars have also become more common over the past couple decades as well - and there's some options there for pet dogs too that might be worth looking into in your case.

It sounds like she hasn't taken off after a deer and ran for miles and miles and/or gotten lost and/or had to be tracked down by car, right? What does her chasing a deer now look like? If she stops the chase and comes back to you before she's really and truly just gone, lost, etc. I'd say you're in a better starting place than a dog who will chase a deer until they're in the next county.

My biggest tool for working with my environmentally-focused, bird-chasing dog is: use the release back into the environment as part of your recall reward. What that looks like is he'll come to me, I'll do the song and dance of a big fuss and a treat or five, either have him sit or grab his collar/harness, then release him back to do whatever he wants with an "okay, free!". The difference between this and just letting him run off after getting the reward is that he's now connecting that release to freedom with me, and to the recall, and eventually it becomes part of the recall's power. When I have to hook him up at the end of a walk or because we're heading towards a road etc., I try not to follow the recall immediately with leashing, but break it up with some training or pattern games or a treat scatter, so that he's less likely to associate the recall with the leashing. If I have to hook him up because another hiker with a dog just showed up ten yards down the trail, I do hook him up right away, but try to make sure that that's far, far less common than recalls that end in fun and release. I also heavily reward choosing to check in on his own. It's good to remember that with something like a recall, you're not just leveraging your current reward (praise, treat, whatever) against the thing your dog is interested in, you're leveraging your entire reward history for recalls against that thing, whether that history is good or bad.

To be absolutely clear: for all that Frodo is highly focused on and rewarded by the environment, I'm working with a stacked deck. He's not a breed that works at far distances from their handlers, and he's been incredibly naturally inclined to keep us in sight and check in from day one. I'm not trying to tell you that because he's really good off-leash you can do what I did and get the exact same results with your dog, just that I have found the tips above to be really good at keeping recall strong even in the face of significant distractions, like flushed birds.

A word about dragging a short line in wooded areas, trails... pretty much anywhere that's not an open field: it's a risk. We did it for a while with our older dog, and it worked... until he went just out of my wife's sight one day and vanished. He came home a good hour or so later totally naked. Sam is less reliable than Frodo off-leash (hence the drag line), but he's not a dog who just takes off either. He'd clearly gotten tangled in some brush off the trail and couldn't recall when she called, and by the time he got loose (by slipping his harness), he couldn't find her. He wound up back at our apartment where our landlord saw him and got him inside for us before giving us a call (we were still out looking), and before that he was spotted at the convenience store down the street we frequent, so we absolutely know he was looking for us. Never found the harness or line. And this was a slim, rubberized tracking line that didn't snag on things easily, cut down so it wasn't super long and likely to wrap around brush, with no handle loop to catch on things.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,796 Posts
I think breed matters as does individual dog personality of course, but I also think that too many people (this is an observation from my area and my experiences) think its important or somehow extra fun to have a dog off leash in circumstance where it really is not adding much or any fun.

Basically, cost to benefit ratio.

Recall is important to train regardless of intent to walk off leash because mistakes happen. Doors or fences get opened at the wrong timing or a leash breaks etc.

I have ridden horses many miles with a dog or dogs alongside, I have not worked cattle but have worked horse herds, and I have hiked with dogs on and off leash and that is the one that puzzles me. It just doesn't seem to be a big deal to use a leash and probably 95% of people are hiking where they should be using a leash to be either safe and/or to be considerate of others and of wildlife.

I guess my point is that there are dangers to holding up the ability (or choice?) to have a dog off leash in public as a desirable trait and proof of training skill. I am not saying that is the conversation here per se but it is definitely something I see around. "My dog can go off leash" vs not even if neither really should be off leash.

It is something that should suit the dog and not be asked of the dog if it does not suit the dog and location
I absolutely hate having off leash dogs with no recall running up to me or me and my leashed dog with the unleashed dog owner screaming "don't worry! He's friendly!"

Well, I am not friendly. Leash your untrained no recall at all dog.

If I am walking in a park where there are people and dogs I carry a cane and I have carried a cattle prod. I WILL protect my dog. Period. These days I rarely go to those places. I have no need to.

When I hike with my dog off leash where I may run into other people I am ALWAYS looking for other hikers. There are lots of hiking trails near here including the Appalachian Trail.

When I see or hear people I call my dog immediately and leash him. I then step off the trail and put him in a down or sit until they pass. If they have a loose dog I ask them to control their dog.

I also hike at times when I am less likely to see people.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
215 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yup, and somehow I bet they don't care one bit about other people walking their one dog on leash that those loose dogs run up to and bother. That's the reason I had to give up walking my dogs on leash around my own neighborhood. I frankly don't give a d*mn whether your dog is friendly, and as far as I'm concerned if you can't keep it from running up to me, it's out of control. I've had a broken hip and shattered elbow already in my life. Friendly dogs knocking me down can be as damaging as unfriendly dogs. And then there's how my dog feels about it.

Edit: Whoops. I have no idea what senior brain lapse caused me to type "shattered elbow" above. It was an ankle.
When i take my dog off-leash, she is trained and when I see someone coming, especially, but not only, if they have an animal, I call her to heel, where she stays until they have passed. So yes, there are some ill-behaved off-leash dogs, but just as bad are the ones ON a leash - who pull towards my fearful dog, while their owner says "oh, my dog's friendly, it's fine" and allows their dog to pull them over to my dog. - SO it all comes down to manners, not the presence or lack of a leash. Please don't condemn all off leash hikers because some owners choose not to teach their dog manners, and, frankly, have none themselves.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 3GSD4IPO
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Top