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Recall Problems


Guest Rose29
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I adopted a two year old grey back in September. I had some trouble with some destructive behavior initially which seems to have calmed down.

 

I am looking for some advice on some recall training. I don't have a garden and in England we don't have dog parks so I don't really have an enclosed space to let him off. I live in a flat which has a communal lawn and some woods which are mostly enclosed but there are a few areas where he can get out onto the road.

 

I have a long line (with a harness and shock absorber) but I'm struggling to get any form of recall from him when I'm outside. When I'm in the house he will come when called every time.

 

If his sniffing something, or looking in the distance I can be jumping up and down waving my arms in the air and have his favorite treats, but he won't take any notice. I think it might be stubbornness on his part as I brought a rabbit fur as a special recall toy which he absolutely loves. If I squeak it and call him he will still ignore me, but after his finished looking at whatever his looking at he will come running to me. So it's not like he hasn't heard me. I would really like to find a way to break this habit, I don't want him to be ignoring my recall until it suits him, but I'm not sure how to go about it.

 

As an aside I have had him completely off lead in the communal areas where I live and he will happily walk along next to me on the lawn or in the woods. But as soon as he sees a person, a dog or one of my neighbors open doors he will trott of in that direction to investigate no matter how much I call him back.

 

Any tips or advice would be appreciated!

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Guest normaandburrell

We have our hound in obedience training and recalls were challenging. First of all, when training don't call him when he is sniffing or going potty. He won't respond and you don't want to set him up for failure. It also helps to switch treats around, and reserve his favorites treats only for training the most difficult behaviors. Iceman gets greasy sausage chunks for sit/stays and recalls. Then after a good training session, I will throw his wubba around for him as a reward.

You also may want to work on the watch me and leave it commands. When Iceman wants to chase a squirrel, I use leave it, praise him when he breaks his fixation, and then call come. If your hound sees another dog you could say "watch me", hold a treat up, and then praise and reward him when he looks at you. Eventually he will just start paying more attention to you and less to other things in the environment.

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Adding on to the last, here are three games that I used to help teach Doc a recall while out on walks:

 

1. Greyhound catch. This requires a second person, and some excellent treats. One holds the dog, the other walks to a distance. First person releases the dog when the second one calls. Dog comes and is rewarded with a treat. First person then calls the dog back, and gives him another treat. With practice this can be built up by increasing the distance, adding distractions like other dogs, etc.

 

2. Hide and seek. Wait till your dog's attention is elsewhere, then hide behind a tree. Wait until he notices. and begins to worry. Then call him, again rewarding him with a treat. Use this one with discretion as with practice your dog may get the idea so well that he starts hiding himself in his turn (known in this household as 'you fool me, me fool you').

 

3. Not exactly a game, but for the times when you have his attention but he's not yet convinced it will be worth his while returning. (This tends to be an issue with sighthounds, as they were bred to hunt independently, not retrieve game or whatever.) Stoop down, and get terribly excited about some small moving 'creature' you have discovered in the grass. He will probably come running over, to help you check it out....

 

Does your dog have a strong prey drive? Because if so, you need to regain his attention before that kicks in - otherwise it is more or less impossible. With Doc I got awfully good at 'thinking sighthound', scanning the horizon and spotting the squirrels etc before he did. Otherwise once his ears went up I had just a split second to say 'Doc!' and regain his attention - otherwise he would be gone, galloping at full stretch. (He is a wobbly old chap of thirteen and a half now so all this is no longer an issue.)

Clare with Tiger (Snapper Gar, b. 18/05/2015), and remembering Ken (Boomtown Ken, 01/05/2011-21/02/2020) and Doc (Barefoot Doctor, 20/08/2001-15/04/2015).

"It is also to be noted of every species, that the handsomest of each move best ... and beasts of the most elegant form, always excel in speed; of this, the horse and greyhound are beautiful examples."----Wiliam Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, 1753.

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Thanks for the advice.

 

No he has a pretty low prey drive, he'll take a look if something small and fluffy is running about but gets bored fairly quickly I've never had him off lead in these instances I assume he would try to chase if he was off lead.

 

I have tried greyhound catch with him, but that tends to go one of two ways, either he gets overexcited and instead of running between us will run loops around the outside of us. Or he gets bored and wanders off.

 

I have taught the watch command but again this works I'm the house but doesn't get any response outside.

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+ 1 for greyhound catch, we were able to do this in a big field where it's fenced in on 3 sides and Charlie loved it. This was until he heard some sort of bang and decided to trot off home (suburban area). We've having a similar problem to you Rose, in the garden or some other 'boring' place we can have good recall but in a new place forget it, won't come for any treats.

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Just a suggestion for what worked for us (aside from finding a field that was much too large for our guy to even think about running out of as he's not in the greatest of shape): Does he always respond to something like food going into his stainless steel bowl? We brought our hound's bowl and some dog food as a back-up, as we knew, no matter what looked or smelled good, if he heard that tinking noise of food going into his bowl, he would be bolting back toward us. We used this initially with the 'greyhound catch' game, and after a few good sprints, he was tired and ready to just hang with us for the rest of our outing.

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From your description, it doesn't sound like he's really been 'unsuccessful,' just that you're expecting too much, too soon. When we first started recall training in formal obedience, I would say the dog's name at two feet away. When he responded, I'd reward with a high value treat. As the dog gets more and more reliable, you can do further distances and more challenging distractions. This has to be done with A LOT of reinforcement over a period of time. I would not even think about allowing a dog off-leash unless he's been consistently reliable in fenced and enclosed areas for at least a year. One of your end goals would be a successful recall on a 20 foot long line... You just need to work up to it. :)

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Off topic - but looking at the greyhound-data site - DocsDoctor - did you update the photos and bio on there? very cool

I did, after joining their forum. But it was a while back, and I think that now security has been tightened up and you would need to be an 'authorised' user to make any changes. If you emailed the Greyhound-Data folk with your photos and details, I'm sure they'd do it for you - they like their records to be up to date!

Clare with Tiger (Snapper Gar, b. 18/05/2015), and remembering Ken (Boomtown Ken, 01/05/2011-21/02/2020) and Doc (Barefoot Doctor, 20/08/2001-15/04/2015).

"It is also to be noted of every species, that the handsomest of each move best ... and beasts of the most elegant form, always excel in speed; of this, the horse and greyhound are beautiful examples."----Wiliam Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, 1753.

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If he can access the road from this area, maybe best to keep him on the long line and try to find someplace more secure or away from roads to practice off leash.

 

im in the uk too and i know it's so tempting to try them off the lead but you've only had him a short time really.

 

If he's ignoring the special rabbit fur toy, something more exciting has caught his attention, maybe just a scent that you can't see. With spring coming the woody area is going to wake up and get very exciting with bunnies, squirrels and scents. What i found last year - in springtime- was that a particularly kamikaze bunny took up residence in the local field where i had been playing fetch with Fey. She lost all interest in her tennis ball so i just had to leash walk only there from then on and tnis blasted rabbit kept leaping about in front of her nose!

 

You need to find a really boring place to build up the recall and add in distractions gradually. Also, this freedom is all very new to him, so it's natural he wants to investigate everything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You need to find a really boring place with few or no distractions to build up the recall.

Edited by Amber
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Thanks for the advice guys. If his on a line and ignoring me should I pull him towards me or just leave it until he comes on his own even if he wanders elsewhere for a while?

 

If his looking at me or in my general direction and is called back he will come, it's just the initial getting his attention that seems to be the problem. I have the same issue if in standing right next to him, if his looking elsewhere and I call him he doesn't respond.

This is my first grey but I've had other dogs before who haven't been perfect at recall either. But with them they would at least look around at me, or I'd get a flick of the ears when I call them.

 

 

I'm struggling to find a secure area to let him off that's boring. The closest I've found is a field which does have a fence on three sides then a river on the fourth. The only problem is the fence isn't very good and there are livestock in the adjoining fields. He hasn't paid any attention to the sheep in the other fields yet, but I've only ever had him on the line there as I'm a bit nervous about letting him off completely when I'm not sure on the fence.

 

I know what you mean about the rabbit Amber there's a grouse that does the same thing to me!

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If his looking at me or in my general direction and is called back he will come, it's just the initial getting his attention that seems to be the problem. I have the same issue if in standing right next to him, if his looking elsewhere and I call him he doesn't respond.

 

Use VERY high value treats. A lot of people use a "special" treat only for recall training, something flavorful and smelly- like cut up hot dogs, cheese, liverwurst, roast beef. For the first few sessions, just say his name, wait for eye contact, then reward. Work up to recall in the house or on a short line. Eventually, you'll phase the treats out (only giving them for every other recall, or random intervals).

 

He may also do well with a clicker, which will give you a unique sound that he can associate with the treats.

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1. 'greyhound catch' is also what trainers call a restrained recall here in Australia :) I think it should be done as well as building up the second exercise I will mention.....

2. you have a harness or long line already, so use them and start small - the dog is two feet away, perhaps gazing at something but not fixated or sniffing, say his name and when he looks at you run a step or two backwards and give the command 'come' - have a smelly high value treat and hold it in your fist at your navel - that will get the dogs momentum coming towards you in order to discourage zoomies off to the side - build up the distance and the distraction level here, slowly!

3. do not use your recall word if the dog is not going to respond and you have no way to 'enforce' (ie you can't reel him in via the long line) - test with his name first, once. If he does not look at you don't tell him to 'come' as he won't and you are letting him know that you can't 'make' him come back


also if you get to the point where he's off leash in a safe area, I wouldn't recall him just to put his leash on and take him home (disincentive to recall as it's the end of fun time!) - when it's time to go, you approach the dog :)

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This has all been really helpful.

 

This is my plan of action going forward:

 

1. Continue with recall training in the house, possibly some hide and seek recall

 

2. When out on his usuall walks practice watch command when he becomes distracted by other dogs/people etc.

 

3. Practice building up a longer distance on the recall line

 

4. Play greyhound catch with him at the weekends, gradually increasing the distances. Unfortunately it's still dark by the time both me and my partner get home in the evening to be comfortable doing this during the week.

 

 

I've been using a clicker during training which has worked wonders in other areas, finally managed to teach down after months of being unsuccessfull. I'll try to use it more during recall training as well.

 

I use pieces of sausage for recall treats, I have a stash of frozen ones that I cook before we go out, but I might try some of the other suggestions made to see if they're any more successful.

 

It has been suggested during dog training classes that we could try using a whistle for recall has anyone tried this? If so was it successfull and do you have any tips? What's the advantage of dog specific whistles over normal ones, aside from the fact that people can't hear them?

 

Sorry for all the questions!

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Hi there,

 

I am UK based too. I spoke to other dog walkers who were able to tell me where there were places that you could use for dog training the best recommendation was tennis courts. They are often left open at night and are well lit. You can shut the gate and start training. I started by letting him off, letting him have a sniff around then calling him and rewarding him with cheese. The only problem was that he then started only to show this skill in tennis courts so I also borrowed a friend's garden to help him learn somewhere else that was a bit more interesting.

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