Recall/Focus - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-06-2012, 05:33 PM Thread Starter
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Recall/Focus

I have a beautiful 15 month old female GS named Dixie. Obviously she is intelligent but her focus is non-existent. I can call her name multiple times, whistle, clap my hands, do a handstand and if she is focused somewhere else or engaged in another activity, there is no way she will be paying attention to me!


I also can not seem to teach her to come when called. She will look at me and then continue doing whatever it was she was doing before.

Any ideas on how to improve focus and recall?!?!

I'm desperate.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-06-2012, 05:58 PM
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Where are you attempting to do this? Outdoors in a highly distracting environment, or indoors in a low distraction environment? How much (and what kind of) foundation training have you done to get her to respond to her name and come to you before expecting her to always obey? How long have you had her - from puppyhood, or did you get her more recently?

-Debbie-
Cava 1/6/18
Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short
Cassidy 6/8/00-10/4/04
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-06-2012, 06:31 PM
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How long have you had her? In any case at 15 months this dog should have proper recall. I would implement NILF and keep her on a long leash. You shouldn't be calling her if you even doubt she will come. Long 30 ft leash and work on on-leash recall first. The recall should always be a positive thing for the dog, no recall to punish, use treats/toy whatever initially to reward the recall. Once she is good on leash, start with minor distractions off leash and work up.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-06-2012, 07:23 PM Thread Starter
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She's been with me since she was 6 weeks old. Inside she will respond to her name/any command with or without a tangible reward. She has all of the basics, sit, down, stay, shake, high five, speak, silence etc.

Outside there she has no focus what so ever. She isn't food motivated. It's all about her tennis ball. For that, she will do anything.

Will try the long leash. The problem is she just won't focus and I don't know how to teach that at this point.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-06-2012, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EBray View Post
The problem is she just won't focus and I don't know how to teach that at this point.
Clicker train it. When I get a new puppy I wear my treat bag all the time, and I have a clicker attached to it I set aside a couple of short sessions every day where I hang out with puppy and whenever s/he does something I like (look at me? come towards me? lay down on the floor? sit?) I click and toss a treat. The more I reward these behaviors the more the puppy starts offering them up. I don't say ANYTHING, I simply wait for the dog to do them. This is called "capturing" behaviors. Usually by the time we're in puppy class a few weeks later I've got a dog that will lay on the floor and stare at me for hours if I toss an occasional treat.

If she isn't food motivated (what have you tried as training treats?), make her work for her meals - a piece of kibble for eye contact. Work with her in every room in your house, in the garage if you have one, and then outside on leash in a boring part of your yard. Don't say her name, don't ask for attention, just stand or sit with her calmly and wait. I sit on the floor with the puppy a few feet away and food in my hand. I wait for them to stop mugging me for the treat and to stop looking at it. At some point they look up at me and I mark it (with the clicker, or your voice if you prefer - "yes!") and give it to them.

Work up to walks by having her sit at your side on leash by the front door, then with the door open, then a few feet outside the door. Wait for eye contact and reward it. Over and over again. Every so often on the walk stop and wait. It may take awhile at first, but eventually she'll probably sit and look at you as if to figure out what the heck you're doing! Reward it and continue the walk. If you simply can't get her to do anything for a food reward, no matter how yummy or how hungry she is, use her ball.

The problem you have right now is that she's learned to tune you out and she's learned that she can ignore you with no consequences. The reason capturing is good is because she can't ignore a command if you don't give a command. You're building default behaviors, things you expect her to do automatically, without being told. You can add a cue later (I use "watch"), but for now I wouldn't bother. And when you do add a command, go back to step one and work in the house first, gradually building up to more distracting environments. It's great that she obeys indoors, but unfortunately that's not carrying over to outdoors so you need more work on focus in general.

Require eye contact for EVERYTHING. She wants go go outside for come inside? She sits and looks at you first. You have her food bowl in your hand? Wait for her to sit and look at you before setting it on the floor. Going for a walk? She sits and looks at you before you open the door. She wants you to throw her ball for her? She asks for it by sitting and looking at you - every single time.

And finally - get better treats!!!!

-Debbie-
Cava 1/6/18
Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short
Cassidy 6/8/00-10/4/04
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-06-2012, 07:56 PM
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It's much easier with a puppy who is a blank slate than it is with a 15 month old dog, but the sooner you start, the better. Just to show you what's possible, here's Keefer on the first day of puppy class - my husband got this picture of him laying on the floor staring at me:



He was 15 weeks old and we'd had him for 6 weeks. There were over 20 people in that room and 11 other puppies.

Here's Halo, week 2 of puppy class, staring at me (I'm holding treats in each hand), off leash in a room full of puppies and other people:



She was 14 weeks old, and we'd had her for 4 weeks. I'd been working very diligently with both of them from their first day home. I had to practically pry Keefer off me during the play breaks, he wanted to follow me around the room instead, and one of the other women in Halo's class stopped me in the bathroom one day to ask how I got her to focus like that.

-Debbie-
Cava 1/6/18
Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short
Cassidy 6/8/00-10/4/04
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-06-2012, 11:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EBray View Post
She's been with me since she was 6 weeks old. Inside she will respond to her name/any command with or without a tangible reward. She has all of the basics, sit, down, stay, shake, high five, speak, silence etc.

Outside there she has no focus what so ever. She isn't food motivated. It's all about her tennis ball. For that, she will do anything.

Will try the long leash. The problem is she just won't focus and I don't know how to teach that at this point.
There's a difference between focus and obeying you. It's not "natural" imo for a dog to be completely focussed on its owner outside (unless you are training or trialing outside). If you aren't "working" your dog then you don't need a high level of focus, it sounds like you just need your dog to obey the recall. That is fairly easy but you have to be consistant and it sounds like you need to start from scratch again. It may seem a little embarrassing to be long leashing your almost grown looking dog at the park, but you have to do it if you want to be successful.

You might benefit from taking a lesson or two with a trainer, specifically for the recall. I always find that being shown something on the spot is better than trying different ways out of books/threads.

There are multiple threads on the forums here about recall, some of which I have posted on, with how I taught/reinforced my the recall to my girl.

I would say at this point that your dog does not respect you and is choosing to ignore your recall because she can get away with it. Some NILF and long leash training should get you a long way to solving the issue.

Consistency, fairness and patience will win the day.


Here's a link to a very similar thread.

https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum...lp-please.html

Last edited by pfitzpa1; 07-06-2012 at 11:04 PM. Reason: add link
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-06-2012, 11:52 PM
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My dog had the same behavior as yours, she was great inside the house but outside was a different story. some great tips here, and i have lexie in classes that address this problem. my suggestion is string cheese (1 piece you can shread into 25 pieces). i call her to me and i always have the cheese by my face, so she has to look at me before she gets it and always tons of praise. well now i have it dangeling out of my mouth when i work with her. she never looks away, funny with the right treats you can get lots of attention. good luck
post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-07-2012, 12:11 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks y'all!

I read about NILF about six weeks ago & definitely saw potential. I wasn't consistent enough to follow through. Really do think it's a lack of respect. She lived with my fiancé for the fist year of her life and even though I was in & out of his house everyday she definitely saw him as the "leader". Now she lives with me full time & fiancé is about 17 hours away finishing up school.

Deep down I know she loves me but the respect factor is not there yet. Will definitely implement NILF and will try the long lead. Hopefully we will see an improvement. Nothing is more embarrassing than trying to get your dog's attention and have her completely ignore you.

Appreciate all the advice!
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