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Recall Problems

December 7th, 2004, 10:17 AM
When we got our dog, he was obedience trained and had been trained in flyball and agility. He will come back anytime except when he has a ball in his mouth. His previous owner had the same problem with him and put it down to the flyball training. Riley now won't bring the ball back unless we have his 'treat', in this case he was always rewarded with a 'tug of war' after bringing the ball back. As I said he will come back when called any other time and is otherwise obedient. I've been thinking about registering him for a session of 'Radical Recall'. Do you think that would help? I'm just concerned that this new session might confuse him. Any advice? Thanks Marg

December 7th, 2004, 12:27 PM
Sorry, but you lost me. Your dog always comes back, except when he has a ball. Then, the only time he comes back with the ball is when you have a "treat", which is a game of tug-of-war? So how does he get his "treat" if he won't come back?? (the mental picture is a little fuzzy today - must be the weather) I'm thinking maybe the "treat" wasn't good enough for him. I'm sure Tenderfoot or someone else will have great recall training advice for you. I'm wondering, though, what kind of flyball training would cause him to not want to return the ball - I thought that was an important part of the sport. Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

December 7th, 2004, 01:29 PM
I was told that in Flyball, the dog runs to a box, steps on a lever which then shoots out a ball, the dog catches it and brings it back to the handler. The handler then gives him a treat which in Rileys case was a 'tug of war'. Now Riley won't bring any ball back unless he gets that 'treat'. I do play ball with him sometimes but he won't bring it back unless I have the rope and he gets his 'tug of war' game. Am I doing the right thing by always giving him his reward? I just don't know how to get him away from expecting his Flyball reward everytime the ball is thrown. If Riley is loose in the yard, he always comes back when called. Sorry, I should have explained better-hope I did better this time.

I have no problem with Casey bringing back her ball. I was hoping that Riley would see me playing with her and then realize that he wasn't being played with unless he brought the ball but it's not working. He just stands there mouthing his ball. Am I expecting to much? If anyone could help me with this, I'd love some advice. Thanks Marg

December 7th, 2004, 05:52 PM
Let's try to forget he ever knew Flyball existed & let's hide the rope for a few days until he can earn it back.
Riley is new in your life and though he might think you are terrific, he may not have the respect for you that he should have.
Our rule is: if you are not being successful then you have gone too far too fast. Let's go back a step or two and re-teach the 'come'. Great that he is so awesome when there isn't a ball involved, but he is not so great when there is negotiation involved - he has a ball and is not willing to give it up unless you give him something better (the rope & tug game).
So he needs to go back on the leash and we treat him like a young pup who doesn't respect his parents. Work on the 'come' on a short leash in the house. Come = come straight to you, sit in front of you and look you in the eyes waiting for the next direction. If he veers from any of this - you continue facing him and back away with a sharp (not loud) "NO" and a slight leash correction. He should look at you and then you get super happy and ask for the 'come' again in a very happy tone. The idea is that you pressure him for making the wrong choice - veering off - and reward him for any effort in the right direction. Even if his eyes leave you (if his eyes are not on you neither is his brain), then you correct him, but the very second he is looking at you again you have to get happy. You are telling him that the best place to be is with you and any other choice will be pressured. You might even interupt yourself as you change from correction to reward and correction and reward again. You have to be able to respond as quickly as he changes his mind. When he is sitting in front of you and looking in your eyes then you can release him with lots of enthusiasm. ALL of this is done on the leash to empower your word - but as soon as he is sensitive enough to respond to just your word then you are starting to get off leash - which can happen in minutes not days.
Each step in the teaching of any cooperative action must be done in successful sequences. From a good 'come', move onto the 'come' with distractions - introduce the ball. Put him into a sit-stay and toss the ball a few feet away. Release him to it and call him back. Using the pressure and release methods to advise him on his decisions. As you are successful, put him on a longer leash and throw the ball further away. Help him to understand that the ball is part of the fun, but that his playing "keep away" will stop the fun and cause you to pressure his poor choices. Now move outside with this game, and begin again with shorter distances working towards longer distances as he earns them.
The idea is that he must earn time of leash and time with the ball - but you must be the one to teach him how to be successful.
Please let me know if this is at all confusing to you - I am still getting used to putting our teaching into print and I am not always so sure it translates as well as I would like it to.

December 7th, 2004, 08:02 PM
I was told that in Flyball, the dog runs to a box, steps on a lever which then shoots out a ball, the dog catches it and brings it back to the handler. The handler then gives him a treat which in Rileys case was a 'tug of war'.
Well that makes more sense now. :) I guess I was having a hard time understanding how he expected to get his "treat" if he didn't come back (I thought the tug of war was happening with the ball in his mouth). Thanks for the explanation. Good luck with Riley. :thumbs up

December 8th, 2004, 08:03 AM
Thanks for all the great advice Elizabeth and Doug. I will start working with Riley today. Riley is an Australian Shepherd and he learns things very quickly. He also gets bored very easily when doing the same thing over and over. Should I keep his training sessions down to a set time, 10-15 min., to keep him from getting bored? Again thanks a lot for the great advice. Marg

December 8th, 2004, 09:28 AM
We like to tell people that relationship is on-going all of the time not done in sessions. It kind of depends on your schedule and availability to be with him. I would say if you keep it fun and break it up with lots of different activities then you could do it for as long as you want. Dogs can play together for hours because they are having fun - they rarely get bored, so the challenge is to keep things fun and interesting while you are teaching. Whether you are working him in tiny bits throughout the day or in longer play sessions it shouldn't matter - the key is that when you are together you are giving him jobs and he is engaged in cooperating with you.

December 8th, 2004, 01:34 PM
Thanks for all the advice Elizabeth and Doug. I'm home with Riley all day so I can work with him several times during the day. Thanks again, Marg