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Is a dog ever too unruly to train?

August 22nd, 2006, 02:22 PM
We have 3 mixed breeds. Our first dog Pepe has always been a high energy dog - when we first found him we trained him to sit, down, stay, release, heel....but have never been completely successful at recall - he has a streak in him that tells him to run and run and run....if we call him to us, he'll stop take a good look round to see if there is something more interesting going on, possiblly stop and urinate or scratch whilst looking round, we call again and again and he begrudgingly comes to us - however if he sees another dog, he's gone, he LOVES other dogs, there is no controlling him when a strange dog appears 500 yards away.
We found 2 subsequent dogs, who we trained to 'sit', 'stay', 'heel' and 'release'. Recall works with them, only if Pepe comes other than that they follow him, he is the dominant dog.
My husband thinks Pepe is too unruly to ever train to recall and doesnt ever want to let him off the leash again. I think because he does the other commands, he is capable of learning recall, but we dont know how. We have tried to make it exciting and fun but nothing can stop him when he sees another dog. He isnt really motivated by treats, or a lot of petting praise - he is motivated by other dogs ( and add in goats, cows, horses).
How can we help Pepe, and our other two dogs?
As a point he wont retreive either he isnt interested in sticks and balls, his main thrill comes from other dogs chasing him and he will goad other dogs to chase him because he loves to run fast and jump.....he would be an excellent agility dog, except he is scared of heights and is unruly!

August 22nd, 2006, 02:47 PM
The recall can be trained and if your dog has learned other commands, then there is no reason why he can't learn to come. The trick is for YOU to be consistant.

First off, don't ever let him outside off lead. If you have a fenced in yard, that is different but...DO NOT EVER USE THE WORD "COME" to get him to come to you if he is loose in the yard.

Every single time you say "Rover, Come!" you MUST be in a position to make the dog come to you. So, you take Rover outside on a leash. You tell Rover to "come" ONE TIME ONLY! If he doesn't come, then you gently reel him in with the leash. When he gets to you - make a big, huge deal over it.

Just remember - each and every time that you tell Rover to come and he doesn't, he learns that come is an option. You have to be able to reinforce the command and you must be consistant.

August 22nd, 2006, 03:06 PM
I think some dogs are way harder than others to train, but from what you've described, it just doesn't sound like he has the basics for a recall. You have to work toward being off leash. He has to earn it. As Lavender said, you have to always be in a position where he can't fail when you tell him to come.

Some dogs I knew at the dog park wouldn't come because they knew their owners would never outrun them or catch them, so not coming was an easy option. I told the owners whenever you give up, the dog wins and learns he can always win because you won't be able to catch him. That's where the long rope comes in. ;)

August 22nd, 2006, 03:25 PM
That's where the long rope comes in. ;)

Or a lunge line from the local feed store! :D ;) :angel:

Angies Man
August 22nd, 2006, 04:38 PM
The Schutzhund trainers I used to know used an e-collar for teaching their blockheaded GSD's to recall on command. Seemed to work, too.

Most dogs respond to "Bubba, COME!" then lots of praise and their favorite treat. Start on a lead, then work off lead. In a fenced yard of course! Even alphas like praise and treats.:dog:

August 22nd, 2006, 10:53 PM
I wouldn't recommend an e-collar unless she's going to use a high quality reliable one and actually have a reputable trainer show her how to use it correctly or read A LOT about the correct usage.
E-collars can be used to correct a dog if it already knows the come command, but this dog hasn't even had basic training, so an e-collar wouldn't be the best choice for her until her dog has a fairly reliable recall at the least under little distraction. Until the dog knows exactly what to do when told the come command, correcting it with the e-collar isn't going to serve any use.

Recall works with them, only if Pepe comes other than that they follow him, he is the dominant dog.

I think the dog probably also has issues with who the pack leader is, so correcting it isn't going to teach it anything. One of the other dogs shouldn't be pack leader. It's one thing for a dog to take over as pack leader when you aren't around, but if the dogs look to another dog while you're standing there giving commands, your dogs have leadership issues and don't know who they're supposed to listen to.

Your other dogs should also be on lead. If you give them a command you need to be able to make sure you enforce it. Once the other dogs start obeying you instead your "pack leader" dog will come to realize that he's no longer in control and will be more likely to submit to you. DO NOT allow your other dogs to follow your dog around while you're there, don't let them follow his lead and take HIS commands, by doing this you reinforce that he's pack leader, not you.

Let me give you an example:

The other night I took my dogs out to go potty. Walnut, my chow-mix, is the more dominant of my 2 dogs. I accidentally let the leash slide out of my hands and she walked up the sidewalk. I did NOT go after her, because there's no way I could catch her if she ran.
I also didn't give her the come command, because her recall off lead isn't perfect, and you don't give a command that you can't enforce.
I simply turned around the other way ignored her and marched my other dog back into the house. I left the door to the house slightly open and started doing training with my dog. I made sure to praise the dog I was doing training with a lot so that walnut could hear it. It only took about 2 minutes for Walnut to realize that no one was going to follow her and the other dog was inside getting treats while she was out sniffing stuff. She came in the house on her own and sat in front of me waiting for an order.

Here's a seperate scenario.
Say I got angry and went after her trying to catch her. She runs away and there's no way I can catch her. My other dog sees me chasing her and thinks "ok walnut is pack leader, we follow HER". If I gave her the come command and kept excitingly trying to get her to come walnut would have been reinforced as pack leader, because all the other dogs pay attention to pack leader and wait for commands.

By bringing my more obedient dog inside and starting a training session instead, walnut gets to see that I am the one in control of the other dog and no one is going to look to her for what to do.

I hope this makes sense.

Ever notice how if people run after their dogs trying to catch them the dogs just do whatever they're doing and ignore the owner?
THAT is what the OWNER should be doing. Do whatever they're already doing and ignore the dog. Yes it's frustrating that you can't get the dog to come, but running after it isn't gonna make the dog any better. The more you look at your dog constantly, pet your dog constantly, make eye contact with him constantly, just because he's there the more he is reinforced as pack leader. He should ONLY be praised and petted for doing good stuff, never for just being there.

August 23rd, 2006, 09:34 AM
I'm not sure i am keen to use an e-collar on my dog until i've exhausted every single other option out there.
Thanks for the advice, i've certainly taken it to heart, and both my husband and i realise where we have gone wrong asserting ourselves as 'pack leaders'.
Is it a good idea to get one of those retractable leads that i can use to give him more room to move around gradually whilst doing the recall? Last night i did it with his regular lead on and he came back everytime and got a lot of praise.
I am also learning about ignoring bad behaviour and rewarding good behaviour only and understadn the concept that if we chase after him or call him repeatedly he is enjoying the attention, and reiforcing that he is top dog.
Thanks for the advice.
None of the dogs are going for walks off the leash right now.

August 23rd, 2006, 09:47 AM
IMHO - an e-collar is a great tool IN THE RIGHT HANDS. I have seen trainers shock a dog until it pisses itself to teach it a behaviour that it had never learned before. That is great if you are trying to teach a dog to stay away from rattle snakes but not so great if you are teaching a dog to sit.

A long leash (not a retractable one!!) and a web collar should be all you need. Well, that and lots of patience and a pocket full of dog treats. :D

As for the retractable leash, they are fine for taking a dog out in a safe environment to go potty, but for anything other then that - they don't offer any kind of control.

August 23rd, 2006, 09:48 AM
Is it a good idea to get one of those retractable leads that i can use to give him more room to move around gradually whilst doing the recall?

To teach recall you're better off using a 15' - 20' training lead, so you can rope him in if needed, as the other's mentioned.

IMO, a retractable leash only encourages the dog to pull on leash. so if you have a puller, it's NOT advisable. the dog pulls, gets more freedom, and thus is "rewarded" for the pulling behavior. You may accomplish a recall, but may also create a new pulling problem.

August 23rd, 2006, 11:07 AM
Thanks. I'll run to the pet shop in a minute and see if i can get a training lead. Pepe will only pull if he sees another dog/cat/horse/cow!
I know this training could take months so i am a little worried about his excercise if he is not allowed off the leash outside?

August 23rd, 2006, 11:10 AM
Does he come when he's in the yard off leash?

August 23rd, 2006, 11:13 AM
Thanks. I'll run to the pet shop in a minute and see if i can get a training lead. Pepe will only pull if he sees another dog/cat/horse/cow!
I know this training could take months so i am a little worried about his excercise if he is not allowed off the leash outside?

If you have a fenced yard, go ahead and let him out off leash. Just remember, when it is time to come in - bribe him with a favorite treat and avoid the "c" word.

You should be able to find a 15' lunge line at any place that sells horse stuff. If you can't find it, then look for canine tracking equipment online.

August 23rd, 2006, 11:15 AM
I know this training could take months so i am a little worried about his excercise if he is not allowed off the leash outside?

you can still exercise him ON leash - run, walk, train... and you can let him off for fun playtime in a fenced area. I walk my dog, and train on leash, THEN, as a reward I play with him in our fenced yard, off the leash.

August 23rd, 2006, 12:32 PM
I found a 15ft training leash at the pet shop - had to rummage quite hard to find it.
Usually if he is in the yard he'll run like a bat out of hell around and around and around the house (he's a mid sized mixed breed) but never runs off unless he has his 'brother' Cody in tow - he will not go on his own and thats the same when we are walking - we can tell when he is getting ready to run as he'll look round to see if Cody is there and ready - if we manage to control Cody by making him come then Pepe wont run, the yard is part way fenced and in the process of being finished, and he will come if i just call his name. I will not let him off leash in the yard with the other two. We take the boys for two walks a day, on leash now - not sure if i could run though, the heat of a Caribbean summer near kills me just to walk!
Now, when he comes to me and i give him fuss or a treat, i should be standing and not at his level, right?

August 23rd, 2006, 03:45 PM
Now, when he comes to me and i give him fuss or a treat, i should be standing and not at his level, right?

You shouldn't ever be squatting or sitting at his level if he's a dominant dog, it only reinforces his dominance.

August 24th, 2006, 08:21 AM
Last night i did ten minutes recall training with each dog, i dont know if this was too little or too much but it was soooooo hot and this was 6pm, with lots of mosquitoes about!
Pepe my dominant dog was spot on every single time, he behaved like an angel but he is very smart, i didnt go down to his level and praised and rewarded with a treat each time. He was having a good time and was alert.
Toby was good, if a little reluctant and grouchy with it, you know he just wasnt having fun no matter how much fun i tried to make it - he's overweight and i think the heat and extra exercise was getting to him. However he did come everytime except once without me having to reel him in.
Cody started off in fine spirits and was having a great time, but right at the end he decided he'd had enough and refused to come when i called, and i had bring him to me using quite a bit of force, but praised and rewarded when he finally got there.
My question is how long should i be doing this on a daily basis, and for how long....i mean Pepe acts like an angel on a leash and he's obedient, when will he earn the right to try it off leash?

August 24th, 2006, 03:24 PM
You have to judge based on the dog. But never ever ever go for longer than the dog is having fun, or for more than 15 minutes in one "session". If you want to do more than 15 minutes, stop for 2-3 minutes and then start again.

While I disagree that the flexi leashes are all bad, I do agree that for big dogs and pullers they can be bad. However, they all have "locks" which enable you to restrict the length of the leash, so you can work with them as if they're a "regular" leash (at varying lengths) if they're locked. They can be very useful if you pull it all out, mark lengths (depending on the length of the leash) and then you can gauge how much extra to give your dog each time. I used mine like that when teaching my dog not to pull--though he is a small dog so I don't need to apply much resistance to get him to stop--and then I gradually gave him more leash (a foot at a time) until he learned that no matter *what* the length of the leash, when he hits the end of it, he's not allowed to pull.

If you want a longer leash, you can either find one at a horse supply store or just make your own out of a rope at the hardware store and a collar (or harness) clip. Rope is a cheap alternative to buying a true "leash" and you can customize it, too. You can also cut it into small sections and buy some rings and clips and make a multi-dog leash to clip all your dogs to each other but only have one line going to you. I know you can buy what's called a "leash splitter" at some pet stores, but these are only for 2 dogs and may not work if you have different height dogs you want attached together because often the part that you clip your "main" leash to is fixed in the centre of the splitter.

Anyhow... back to your question on training times.
If Pepe is still happy after 15 minutes, you can go a little longer, but 15 minutes is great at a time (how long can you focus on one thing before you get tired of concentrating?).
If Toby was unhappy, try something else. If you think it's heat related, try training inside (you can easily turn "come" into a hide-and-seek game), or maybe you can find a different time of the day (perhaps early morning) to train him.
As for Cody.... now you know how long it takes for him to get sick of something. Always end a training session on a positive note. If he's sick of doing "come", rather than undoing the last 15 minutes by forcing him to come to you (which will leave a bad memory about the whole session), then just holler at him to sit and praise him for that. It can often be very beneficial to end a training session by running through the other "easy" commands a dog knows. I'm currently teaching my dog to touch a target, and when he starts getting frustrated with that, I just ask him to sit, shake a paw, down, roll over... things that he already knows, and then I gush about that. For Cody, maybe only 5 minutes at a time is all he can handle.

My trainer (agility but she does general training as well), recommends 3 10-15 minute training sessions per day. Obviously that can be too much (or maybe too little) for some dogs, and you need to adjust based on weather, physical conditions (training when a dog has an upset tummy is a bad idea!), and other things. Try to do it when the dog has an empty stomach, as he'll be more willing to work for those treats (you can even use regular kibble if he's motivated by it).

Hope that helps, and glad you're seeing progress with your guys!!


August 24th, 2006, 07:18 PM
I have 2 greyhounds, as sighthounds they can spot movement upto a 1/2 mile away, as a hunting breed the desire to chase is strong, so as a breed it is not recommended to have them offleash unless they have a safe fenced enclosure to run in. As jessi76 said one does not have to deprive a dog of exercise simply because they can't be trusted off leash, it simply means finding safe enclosed spaces for him to run.