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Sugar has started her click training, but she is strong willed. Sometimes I take her out front to the mailbox as a special event. The problem is that once free she doesn't want to come back. She knows what the click means, but the outside is more alluring than getting a treat. Even worse, by responding to her name it means that the fun is over which is counter-productive to getting her to respond to her name and getting her to return.

Ideas?
 

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Long line or retractable lead.

When you call her, reel her in if she doesn't come. Every time she gets away with ignoring you, she is learning that your come command is optional and there are no consequences for ignoring you, particularly when there are more interesting things going on elsewhere.

Don't correct, just don't give her the option of not coming. Give her praise and a treat every time she does come, whether you had to reel her in or not. Then let her go off again so she doesn't think coming always means the fun is over.
 

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Don't let her off-leash, for one. If you can't trust her to come back then she shouldn't get that privilege. Plus it could be dangerous!

You should also teach her that 'come' doesn't always mean 'the fun is over.' Or you'll have a dog that never wants to return. If she has other dogs to play with, start calling her to you out of the play group. When she comes to you, reward her, and then let her resume playing. That way she learns that coming to you doesn't equal the end of fun.

Outside is obviously too distracting for her. You have to work up to distractions. Just because she comes beautifully in the house, in obedience class, or in the backyard doesn't mean she will everywhere. Remember, dogs are poor generalizers.

You want to start slow and work in places with minimal distractions and work your way up to outside and busy places. Remember, when you add in a new D (distance, duration, distraction) you shouldn't add in anything else. For example, if my mutt Risa does well holding a sit/stay in my livingroom while I stand 5-feet away from her while there are no distractions, I can't take her outside and expect her to hold a sit/stay while I stand 20-feet away. Unless I have worked up to it.

Until Sugar has an almost 90% reliable recall, she shouldn't be off leash. It's just too dangerous for her.
 

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make sure she knows the work "come." and what is expected out of her when you say it. practice by putting her on a leash, calling her name and when she comes praise her like crazy- whether she likes treats, a game of tug, or petting. then let her go "free" again on leash. that way she won't associate "come" with stopping playtime. sometimes playtime will end, sometimes it doesn't.
 

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Originally Posted By: CalipsoSugar has started her click training, but she is strong willed. Sometimes I take her out front to the mailbox as a special event. The problem is that once free she doesn't want to come back. She knows what the click means, but the outside is more alluring than getting a treat. Even worse, by responding to her name it means that the fun is over which is counter-productive to getting her to respond to her name and getting her to return.

Ideas?
From your post, i'm not sure you correctly understand "click" training. either that, or i am totally misunderstanding you. But knowing what the "click" means and having her still run off doesn't make sense to me.

The click is to mark an event or behavior that a dog does correctly. So if you're outside, and tell your dog to come, it won't hear any click till she does the behavior and then gets rewarded. Or after you tell her to sit, or down, etc.

If she's running around, all the clicking in the world is only doing two things at this point. #1 conditioning her that the click is actually meaningless and to be ignored, and #2 that ignoring you is an option as well.

My advice is to back up in your training. She can NOT be let offleash anywhere that she can run free and away from you, it will only reinforce her running away from you.

She should never be off leash, then she can never be reinforced for disobeying.

By responding to her name, it shouldn't be a negative. It shouldn't mean game time is over, all fun ends, etc. In the beginning you need to call them lots of times, and lots of times reward with playing ball, food, praise, getting let free (in a controlled place, fenced yd, basement, etc where a running free dog is safe), all sorts of fun stuff when her name is called.

If 9 out of 10 times you call her, something fun happens, she is not going to disobey you that 10th time. and in time it will be so conditioned to come to her name, the thought of playtime being over or something bad happening will never even cross her mind.

But until then, she hasn't earned the right to be free going to the mailbox, it will be quite some time till that happens. Leash and collars everywhere for a while, and never give her the chance to disobey.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I tried the click just for fun since she associates it with receiving a treat. The idea was that if she heard the click she'd return for her reward. I knew it was a long shot when I tried it. When it failed, I didn't continue for fear it would mess up her training.

The area is not dangerous so running off is more of an nuisance than a threat. She doesn't go far and I can chase her down. But I don't because I don't want it to become a game.
 

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She still hasn't earned the right to be off-leash. Whether it's dangerous in your eyes or not. Sometimes dangers aren't obvious. She could run into another dog who isn't friendly, wildlife, a person who is so afraid of dogs that even if all she did was jump up on them they could say she attacked them. . .etc. It is up to you to keep her safe and under control. Since she isn't under verbal control, she shouldn't be off-leash. Period.

The clicker is a bridge. If you click to get her to come to you, do you know what that teaches her? Click means "What you are doing at this exact moment is correct." So you basically clicked her for taking off!!! Not good.

Everyone has given wonderful advice. Good luck working with her on her recalls.
 

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You really should not be working her off-leash since she has exhibited a tendency to "take off". Put her on a long line and if she does not return as a result of your call, reel her in.

No correction if she does not come. Lots of praise if she returns on her on but also if you have to reel her in. She has to know that she is going to be rewarded when she returns to you. Be patient and consistent and you will reap the reward.
 

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You've got things a bit mixed up on the concept of the click. The click simply marks the exact time that she does the behavior you want. The way you're using it, it's like another command to come.

If you go to http://www.kippsdogs.com/recalls.html you'll find the recall game that I teach in my classes. This will help your dog to think that coming to you is a really great thing. I use this on all of my young dogs and it's very effective especially if you can do it on a regular basis. It's even better if you can find a secure area where you can do it off-leash.

I second those who say not to let her off-leash if she's going to run - every time she runs off, she's reinforcing that behavior. I'm a firm believer in teaching off-leash recalls to dogs as young as possible (I start at 8 weeks when I can) but if a dog is running off that completely defeats the purpose.

Good luck!

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 

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Calipso, I think that IliamnasQuest may have some of your problem pegged with the clicker.

The sound of the 'click' should NOT mean your dog is busy doing dog stuff and then hears the sound and comes, instead.............

The click sound is merely a 'marker'. It's not a command and the sound isn't supposed to 'make' your dog do any behavior. The order of events with a clicker should be as follows:

- FIRST dog does some behavior we want

- THEN we click when that happens to 'mark' that the dog did it right. The click is merely a clear and concise 'bridge' between the behavior WE want and....................

- Finally we follow up with a reward for the dog. And it needs to be a 'real' reward the dog values. Not just something we think should be a reward. So real food (cheese, chicken, liver, or a tug toy...).

So when we are teaching a 'come' we cannot 'click' until the dog turns to come to us. I tend to say my dog's name 'Bretta' and if she turns when I say her name THEN I click the turn and she runs in for the reward and I treat her and let her go.

Many people get confused with the 'come' and using the clicker because if we just randomly click as our dogs wander around, they will 'come' because they have linked the sound to a reward. But if what they were doing when you clicked was smelling poop, then you just rewarded for smelling poop, NOT for the 'come' and you did NOT teach the come. If you clicked when your dog was looking at the squirrel and he then came, you just rewarded your dog's attention for the squirrel.

It really helped me to think of the 'click' as the BRIDGE between the real behaviour I'm trying to teach and the reward I'm giving for that behavior. The fact that when we are good it all seems to be coming at about the same time, is a problem we humans have. Because as a learning method for the dog it is very clear that it's

Behavior THEN click THEN reward

Some great sites that help explain even better (and the specifics to help with a recall) are:

http://www.clickerlessons.com/

http://www.clickersolutions.com/articles/index.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Sugar's click training is going well. She understands "focus" which is 'sit and look at me' very well now. She's responding sporadically to "come" and "lie down" as well. She's getting a little better each day with her leash training too. Not too bad for 10 days of work.

She still has trouble meeting new dogs and people however.
 
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