Training to "Come" (every time). . .and not to run away! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-08-2013, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
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Training to "Come" (every time). . .and not to run away!

My 15-month-old Max "Comes" most of the time, but not if he doesn't feel like it! Occasionally, when out of reach, he will look at me when I call, then bound off to visit the cattle down the road or friends to one side or another. I have owned three GSDs (13 years, 10 years, and 9 years), all obedience trained, and never had a problem with one completely ignoring the "Come" command, even when distracted by distance or other dogs/activities. And Max is clearly more intelligent--also more independent and harder to get focused--than any of my previous pets.

We got Max at 7 weeks, nearly 15 years after putting down 9-year-old Deacon for hip displasia, and there are a couple of factors (besides being a few years out of training mode) we never had with the other dogs. Rather than having a fenced back yard in a residential neighborhood, we now live on 16 wooded acres fronted by an occasionally busy minor paved highway (called a Farm-to-Market Road in Texas). I also began training our other dogs between 6-9 months: Beginning earlier, as per the advice at that time, would take the "spirit" out of them. Nine months came and went with Max, and he was so energetic, playful, and hard-to-get-focused, I put off a daily training regimen of all but the simplest of commands (sit, down. . .and come) until he was a year. (He was still puppy-ish and playful, but c'mon. . .had to start sometime!)

Up to about 9 months, Max had stayed in close proximity to the house--located in the middle of the property--even when unattended. . .which was never for very long due to our concern about the aforementioned highway. He never exhibited any desire to leave the immediate area until a stray dog wandered in, saw Max, and ran away. Max chased after it, disappeared down the highway (we looked, but couldn't find him), and finally came back about 4 hours later. Since then, he stays around the house until--and we see it happening!--the wanterlust envelops him, he looks into the distance and then at me (as I shout, "Max! Come!"), and then bounds down the highway or deeper into the surrounding woods. Consequently we keep him on one of two 50-foot runlines when we put him out, which has spawned another issue: Besides fueling his desire to run free, Max sometimes refuses to come when we're outside, presumably to avoid being put on the line, not that I blame him. . . .

I will not have a big dog that is not completely obedience trained, so as much as I love Max I'm considering giving him to someone with a fenced yard, which would be akin to abuse for Max' size and personality. Tethering, however, is even more abusive, and ridiculous when there are acres to run around on. I would at least like to trust Max to accompany me when I work in the yard, which in my case means with a tractor, Bushhog, and chainsaw to clear land and tend to fallen branches and trees. I cannot afford to fence the whole property, so I have thought of a fenced area behind the house. Again, however, my wife and I live alone in a sparsely populated area, and I know a wolfish figure roaming freely through the trees will go a long way toward convincing any Bonnie-and-Clyde wanna-bes to ply their craft elsewhere (we're planning on getting a second GSD for that reason, as well as to give Max a companion. . .or replace him).

I recognize that the fault is mine. I've had suggestions--treats, exaggerated welcomes--but nothing has succeeded. I'm now thinking of electronic fences and collars, but have never used nor heard many positives about them.

Sorry, this started out to be a brief overview but turned into more of a novelette. But if anyone has some advice, I'm open to anything.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-08-2013, 11:30 PM
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Beau has had his moments of wild abandon and it cost him the long line for awhile. Never to the extent of actually leaving though. More like blowing me off and trying to play keep away. He was about the same age when he pulled some selective hearing.

Seems it was short lived and he turned around but it took a good while of him on a long line to EARN that trust again but I was 100% able to reinforce any come command for a couple of months before I trusted him again. He is now 21 months. . He is intact.

My yard is fenced but we have to have reliability offleads in the woods.

Properly used, an ecollar really can help with this and to me is a better choice than the fence.........Lou Castle has some good articles and is very helpful. I like his techniques in particular as they are very low stim and the dog is very clear headed when you work with him that way. I am still trying to figure out where mine is but right now we are good without.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-09-2013, 12:36 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you!

HE

"If you keep doin' what yer doin', you'll keep gettin' what yer gettin'."
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-09-2013, 03:10 AM
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My neighbour had an e collar. Within a week they took it off the dog. By then, the dog knew the fence limits, and you would see her run up and stop as if there was an invisible line.

Not all dogs are the same, but any dog, if corrected frequently, will adapt.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-09-2013, 01:02 PM
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A properly used e-collar would probably be beneficial. But remember that you will have to be out with your dog, actively training in order for it to be useful. I would enlist the help of an experienced e-collar person. Timing is everything, and this especially true with something like an e-collar that gives such immediate feedback. You don't want to end up reinforcing the wrong behavior!

I don't see an invisible fence being helpful in this case. It sounds to me as if this dog would happily blow through if the right distraction came along. I really hope this dog is neutered, since he seems to be able to come and go as he pleases. I have visions of the theme from "The Love Boat" playing in his head as he trots off on his walkabouts.

I would have him on a long line every single time he is outside, and not give him the choice of coming or not. He hasn't earned the freedom of being off leash. Long line or run line, always one or the other, until his recall is solid. I think with active, daily training and removing any decision making ability from Max (i.e, long line or run line, never off leash) will show some improvement quickly.

Good luck! He actually sounds like he would be a lot of fun to work with.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-09-2013, 01:18 PM
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Sheilah, we are on the same page there. Once they are in drive that fence shock is but a trifle. It is amazing how a properly timed very low level stim on an ecollar can mean more than taking a full blown hit on a fence.

My little female (before I taught her not to chase game) took such a hit from a cattle electric fence that her who body twitched and you could hear it arc. She blew it off completely. A little very low level stim timed when she made eye contact with the chicken she wanted to eat and that was good enough.

Our neighbor had a (sigh-101 dalmations strikes AGAIN) dalmation that they never excercised. Thing ran through the efence every day Then they would have to drive around looking for it. What do you expect with a dog bred to run all day? The dog was gone the day after I saw all of their carpet by the road. You know when they GOT that puppy I was trying to talk with them about how much excercise that breed needed......

Def takes timing, finesse, and prep work. Or, as you suggest, no trust off of the long line until the problem is fixed. Offlead trust is an earned privelege.

Nancy



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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-09-2013, 01:32 PM
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At the same age as your puppy, mine decided to run to the neighbor's house 2 doors down and ignore the recall. I marched over and brought him back. I think you might have made a mistake in training by allowing him to return on his own, but what's done is done. I still allow my puppy to go out without a drag line if I know he'll reliably stay put, but this means I'm out there and active with him, and correct him when I see his posture change - which means he's considering bolting to where the action is, lol. I could never leave him out on his own and expect him to stay in my yard, he's too young and curious. I think your idea of a fenced area is a good choice, and also working with him in the unfenced remaining portion until he's matured, trained and trustworthy.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-09-2013, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jocoyn View Post
My little female (before I taught her not to chase game) took such a hit from a cattle electric fence that her who body twitched and you could hear it arc. She blew it off completely. A little very low level stim timed when she made eye contact with the chicken she wanted to eat and that was good enough.
LOL, we have a Golden in our neighborhood that bolts through his invisible fence on a regular basis. He yelps and jerks as he goes through it, but go through it he does. Of course, whatever has his attention on the way out is enough to make it worthwhile. Going back in is a different story. My neighbor told me they have it on the highest setting.

My own dog has gone through an electric livestock fence before. This was before I realized that he was not the type of dog that could stand by and watch other dogs work sheep! Live and learn.

Watching and paying close attention to what happens before what happens happens is usually enough to tell you when you still have time to step in and disrupt the idea of the behavior before it gets past the point of no return. Their doggy brains are endlessly fascinating!
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-09-2013, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by sit,stay View Post
LOL.

Watching and paying close attention to what happens before what happens happens is usually enough to tell you when you still have time to step in and disrupt the idea of the behavior before it gets past the point of no return. Their doggy brains are endlessly fascinating!
Sheilah
The prick ears and expersssive tail of the GSD make them particularly easy to read compared to some other breeds. Had an acquaintance with a Mastiff and nobody on our team could read that darn thing.

Nancy



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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-09-2013, 03:35 PM
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Great Thread

I'm having such trouble with recall with my Zeus that we NEVER allow him to be off leash or long-line (called 360 by our trainer as it is that many inches long).

What's a run line?

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