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Old 05-30-2014, 01:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default behavior issues

Hi, this is my first post here, I'm having some behavioral issues with my German shepherd.

He sometimes comes when called and sometimes doesn't, even when he seems tired and hot he sometimes just runs off. He doesn't go to far, but I live in town and worry about the neighbors getting mad or him getting run over. He will be behaving so well and then just run off.

He also is not always nice with other dogs. His hackles are almost always up when he sees/meets a new dog. I'm not sure if he's scared or if he's mean. He does get along with a few dogs here in town, so I know he can do it.

I've been using lots of treats and very few corrections and he just doesn't seem to be getting any better. I'm at a loss for what to do. Trying to get a behaviorist to come out, but it's expensive because they are all far away.

He ran off today when we got home, just walking from the car to the back door, which we do every day. He was hot and tired from our walk. I left him outside by himself on his tie out after I caught him because I was so mad. He walked off lead and then comes home and runs off!
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Old 05-30-2014, 01:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Do not let your dog off leash.
Also, if he runs off and you call him back to you, do you punish him when he returns? You should never do this. Every time he comes when called (doesn't matter what he did) you need to reward him.
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Old 05-30-2014, 01:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Yep, that's the same as I would say. You can start with a short leash and work your way to a longer leash until he obeys your first recall without hesitation and eventually doesn't run off at all. I would even put this practice into outside of home too, wherever you take him for his walks. That way he knows his behavior is expected to be the same no matter where you are or what the circumstances are.
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Old 05-30-2014, 02:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The more he gets to practice this behaviour, the more difficult it will be to stop it.

The way I look at it, is that if I don't want my dogs to do something, I set it up so that they can't. For example, my rescue was always on a long line for a number of years when out in the back field, or on walks in the woods, because she did what your boy is doing. The best way to stop her from running off was to prevent her from running off - anything you try and do after the fact is too late - the behaviour is practiced and re-inforced, and satisfies their need to do whatever they wanted to do.

If this has been going on for a while, it won't stop after a few weeks or months on a long line - it might take much longer than that! Again with my rescue, she started running off as soon as I got home and let her out of the car. Now, I live on acreage, have a fairly long driveway, so I figured just opening the door and letting her out was pretty safe, considering that neither the neighbors nor the road would be visible from where she was - nope! Bee-line straight for the road at double speed!

So I set up a tie out by the carport, and clip her on as soon as the door opened before she was even out of the car. I did this faithfully, without exception for a full year (this girl was WORK - LOL! but I learned so much from her!). After managing her behaviour for a year, then I started to let her out un-tethered, and she hung around. After all that time, she forgot about running out towards the road. And it's not that she had no training. We went through basic and advanced obedience where she shone, did SchH and she earned her BH and the equivalent of SchH-I obedience, both of which require lenghty off-leash heeling and obedience control in a large open area, but still, given the opportunity, it was just too much fun to take off at a run and go sniffing and exploring, so why not?

There are not short-cuts or easy ways with a dog that takes off - it takes management and re-programming that little brain of theirs over time. So management and prevention coupled with on-going rock-solid obedience training is the key.
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Old 05-30-2014, 02:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Train him, maybe use a different word, like HERE! instead of COME!. But there are rules to follow:

1. Do not give him the command more than one time. HERE! If he comes, praise and treat. If he does not, immediately, go and get him and bring him to where you want him to be in front of you and have him sit, then "Good Here."

Repeated commands = nagging, it teaches a dog to ignore you until you reach that special pitch.

2. VERY IMPORTANT! Do not give him the command if you cannot immediately reinforce it. This means that the dog MUST be on leash until he is 100% on leash with distractions, and even longer. If the dog is off lead and you want him to come, call his name, make yourself more interesting than whatever he is doing, reach in your pocket as if for a treat, run the the other way, BUT DO NOT COMMAND HIM, HERE! That will come, but later.

Giving commands that the dog can then choose to obey, teaches the dog that he can ignore you, depending on what his reward might be if he does, it will reinforce that you are not in control. He will come then only if he thinks a treat is better right now, than whatever he wanted to do.

3. Every time your dog comes to you, it has to be good. You must never call your dog to you to berate him, or scold him.

FIDO Come! .... WHAT IS THIS, POOP IN MY HOUSE?!?!? Sorry, you have just punished your dog for doing what you wanted and are teaching him not to come.

Be consistent. Praise and treat him for coming, every time. Add a sit and be sure you can touch the collar when he reaches you.

The recall is a life-skill. A good recall can save his life and a bad recall can lose him his life. Stop letting your dog off lead when he does not have a good recall and is uncertain around other dogs. You need to get those things worked out before your dog is given the opportunity to get himself in real trouble.
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Old 05-30-2014, 08:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for the helpful tips.

Btw,I have never punished him for coming to me EVER. but the rescue he came from did punish him. They would use a shock collar on him, even though he had zero training.

Luckily, he never goes for the road. It is suspected that he was a stray for quite awhile, so at least he has street smarts.
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Old 05-30-2014, 11:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Some links in post 8 you might find useful.

New Dog, Very Challenging

You most likely have more of a "training" issue than a "behaviour" issue.
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Old 05-31-2014, 02:05 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I don't think you need a behaviorist, just training. Find a good trainer. You have received some good tips here but it sounds like you need motivation to work on basic training. Find a trainer or classes.

Best to you and yours.
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