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Hi, our pup just turned six months and I’m really struggling with recall and obedience under distraction overall. In a non distraction environment he solidly can sit, lay down, stay, come (here), speak (all the normal stuff), but as soon as he sees something or gets in a mood, I’m totally ignored. I had him in the unfenced backyard today playing off lead as I was confident that he would stay with me since we’ve been playing fetch off lead quite a bit. Today he took off and wouldn’t come back even with my precious “Here” command that I’ve working on for several weeks with great success after spoiling “Come” with negativity early on in training (my mistake out of frustration). I remained calm throughout and eventually walked up to him and brought him home. Anyways, pretty discouraged that it seems back to square one with this incident. Am I expecting too much at this age. This is my second shepherd and off lead was joy with the first though I can’t recall (pun intended) how long it took to get there. Advice for how to improve recall and obedience overall in distracted situations would be greatly appreciated. I spends LOTS of time working with him so I don’t mind putting in the time just not sure I’m missing something or expectations too high at this age.
 

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Hi, our pup just turned six months and I’m really struggling with recall and obedience under distraction overall. In a non distraction environment he solidly can sit, lay down, stay, come (here), speak (all the normal stuff), but as soon as he sees something or gets in a mood, I’m totally ignored. I had him in the unfenced backyard today playing off lead as I was confident that he would stay with me since we’ve been playing fetch off lead quite a bit. Today he took off and wouldn’t come back even with my precious “Here” command that I’ve working on for several weeks with great success after spoiling “Come” with negativity early on in training (my mistake out of frustration). I remained calm throughout and eventually walked up to him and brought him home. Anyways, pretty discouraged that it seems back to square one with this incident. Am I expecting too much at this age. This is my second shepherd and off lead was joy with the first though I can’t recall (pun intended) how long it took to get there. Advice for how to improve recall and obedience overall in distracted situations would be greatly appreciated. I spends LOTS of time working with him so I don’t mind putting in the time just not sure I’m missing something or expectations too high at this age.
Dude relax. Don't get discourage just yet. He's 6 months old. There's going to be highs and lows in training. Distractions should be layered in slowly and once you find a point where he fails go back a notch and work some more. I got discouraged around the 6 month mark and came down with an iron first. The dog obeyed but he was stressed and not having fun. So I went a different route.
 

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What gooseman said^^^^^.He's very young still and there's so many wonderful smells and things to investigate!
 

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I'm sure you will hear "be more exciting than everything else". That is loosely translated into "if you don't look like a certifiable maniac while keeping your dog's attention, you are doing something wrong"

First, don't worry about the perception of people around you. If you have to jump up and down, play chase, make weird noises to keep the attention and engage your puppy then just do it.

Second, dogs do not generalize. Sit at home does not mean Sit in the park. You have you take a step back in training when in new places with higher distractions. Start at step 1 in the Sit training process. It will come faster as they learn that Sit means Sit means Sit in all different places. It will come faster as you behave like a clown and your puppy learns engagement.

Third, enjoy your puppy. If you are not having fun, the dog is not having fun. Energy in is what energy you will get out.
 

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First, everything that @Jax08 said! Good solid advice. My pup did exactly the same thing at that age, she'd look right at me and decide no, not now! It's frustrating when they're so darn good at home. I solved that by working at home and showing her that come, or here, is not optional. My puppy is now almost a year old, and her recall remains impeccable...unless there are rabbits, rabbits change everything LOL! For that issue, I'm leaning toward an e-collar.
 

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My pup was the same way actually only until about a month or two ago (he is 10 months now). I feel like it is a maturity thing for one and practice. Just today he saw a rabbit in the yard and was off and chasing but I was able to call him right off it! Keep working hard with the pup, practice with a long line around distractions that way if he decides he doesn't want to come you can reel him in and show him it wasn't an option. We did a lot of work around the things that distracted him most, birds and dog parks. Happy to say now my neighbors toy poodle is finally safe!
 

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My pup is 10 months and I don't have a solid recall under distraction. I do have a pretty good recall. It really depends on the distraction. Some smells slow him down, other dogs, and running cats. He will blow me off for dogs bigtime. My pup is excitable and very friendly and he thinks the rest of the world should be too. I never give the command if i can not enforce it we use a long line a lot. One thing I learned in this site is the 2 ball recall. I play fetch with 2 toys and say Come as the pup is running to me. If i step back he speeds up. This has conditioned an amazing response took a a couple months. Without thinking he comes lightening fast to me. The only down side is he has not associated that response with stay with me LOL. So he runs to me looks me in the eyes then boom if he is into something else he runs right back to it. Now I am trying to figure out how to teach him to stay with me after the recall. One step at a time. Give it more time. They are so big and smart it's easy to set your expectations to high. Thats just my experience with 1 pup.
 

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My pup is 10 months and I don't have a solid recall under distraction. I do have a pretty good recall. It really depends on the distraction. Some smells slow him down, other dogs, and running cats. He will blow me off for dogs bigtime. My pup is excitable and very friendly and he thinks the rest of the world should be too. I never give the command if i can not enforce it we use a long line a lot. One thing I learned in this site is the 2 ball recall. I play fetch with 2 toys and say Come as the pup is running to me. If i step back he speeds up. This has conditioned an amazing response took a a couple months. Without thinking he comes lightening fast to me. The only down side is he has not associated that response with stay with me LOL. So he runs to me looks me in the eyes then boom if he is into something else he runs right back to it. Now I am trying to figure out how to teach him to stay with me after the recall. One step at a time. Give it more time. They are so big and smart it's easy to set your expectations to high. Thats just my experience with 1 pup.
This about sums up what we do with ours too! I never say come unless we have a huge reward and throw a party! I never use the word unless I absolutely have to. We use leave it or let's go for minor distractions. The idea is that if he's in danger (running into traffic, etc.) he won't think twice about coming because the reward is so grand. What helped keep our guy close to us after the recall was introducing a tug (we use his ball on a rope). He sticks around to play now!
 

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At six months I had a pretty reliable recall until he saw a squirrel then he was like screw that I'll be there in a few minutes. I decided I didn't want to chance my dog recalling or not recalling depending on the distraction. So I done some work with an e-collar and now recall is recall regardless of distraction. I would get with a trainer that is experienced in electric and work that.
 

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At six months I had a pretty reliable recall until he saw a squirrel then he was like screw that I'll be there in a few minutes. I decided I didn't want to chance my dog recalling or not recalling depending on the distraction. So I done some work with an e-collar and now recall is recall regardless of distraction. I would get with a trainer that is experienced in electric and work that.
Do you recall how long you spent on e collar work/training and does your dog still where it off leash and how old?
 

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At six months I had a pretty reliable recall until he saw a squirrel then he was like screw that I'll be there in a few minutes. I decided I didn't want to chance my dog recalling or not recalling depending on the distraction. So I done some work with an e-collar and now recall is recall regardless of distraction. I would get with a trainer that is experienced in electric and work that.
Do you recall how long you spent on e collar work/training and does your dog still where it off leash and how old?
My thoughts went this way too a few months ago. I considered the e collar but I'm glad now I was convinced not to. You can have a solid recall without an e collar, what did they do ages before the e collar wasn't invented? I've seen first hand dogs blow through the most intense stimuli and ignore recalls still (high drive and focus they seemed to not even feel the stimuli at that point). My point is that nothing will work 100% however many have great results with the e collar on here. And many can also have great results without, perhaps it takes a little more work. Just my two cents...keeping a long line on the pup until it is reliable is a great idea. Someone recommended a biothane long lead on here to me, it is incredible. It never tangles and doesn't get dirty or collect water and he has the freedom of being off leash while I can step in and control if need be. After a couple weeks of working on this lead he is a new dog. We can walk past birds, dogs, kids, you name it and he's good.
 

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Do you recall how long you spent on e collar work/training and does your dog still where it off leash and how old?
I spent a month or so working on the e-collar recall. Maybe a little longer than it should have taken but I was new to e-collar's. As far as the dog still wearing it. not really. I'll put it on them occasionally just so they get to wear it with no stim. Sometimes we'll work recall just to keep it fresh and reliable. I don't use the e-collar recall command daily. Kind of an ace in the hole command. The dog can be wearing no collar and I can recall. He is 2 1/2 now.
 

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My thoughts went this way too a few months ago. I considered the e collar but I'm glad now I was convinced not to. You can have a solid recall without an e collar, what did they do ages before the e collar wasn't invented? I've seen first hand dogs blow through the most intense stimuli and ignore recalls still (high drive and focus they seemed to not even feel the stimuli at that point). My point is that nothing will work 100% however many have great results with the e collar on here. And many can also have great results without, perhaps it takes a little more work. Just my two cents...keeping a long line on the pup until it is reliable is a great idea. Someone recommended a biothane long lead on here to me, it is incredible. It never tangles and doesn't get dirty or collect water and he has the freedom of being off leash while I can step in and control if need be. After a couple weeks of working on this lead he is a new dog. We can walk past birds, dogs, kids, you name it and he's good.
What did they do before e-collar's? I can't say for sure since I wasn't around. But, dogs weren't always treated as the fragile animals we treat them as today. I imagine it was quite a bit harsher than e-collar training. Maybe someone with info on this can chime in.
I wanted to be able to let my dogs walk off leash in the mountains. I tried the long lead thing not very practical while in a forest.
Those dogs you watched blow through electric were probably poorly trained with electric. It isn't about really intense stimuli. Same as any tool. It is only as good as the human using it. However, I believe that the most reliable recall will be achieved with electric.
 

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What did they do before e-collar's? I can't say for sure since I wasn't around. But, dogs weren't always treated as the fragile animals we treat them as today. I imagine it was quite a bit harsher than e-collar training. Maybe someone with info on this can chime in.
I wanted to be able to let my dogs walk off leash in the mountains. I tried the long lead thing not very practical while in a forest.
Those dogs you watched blow through electric were probably poorly trained with electric. It isn't about really intense stimuli. Same as any tool. It is only as good as the human using it. However, I believe that the most reliable recall will be achieved with electric.
More solid training and long line work I'd imagine (although yes probably harsher methods too!) I prefer positive reinforcement with training the recall, I only want it to be a pleasant experience for him. He is very ball driven so we have used this to our advantage. Every dog is different and responds better to a particular method, my last two dogs required very little off leash training and they never blew a recall and stuck by us. Trust me a biothane long lead is VERY practical in the forest, we hike in the dense florida underbrush here with saw palms galore, much thicker than any mountain/northern woods. We are also hiking the mountains this week so I will let you know how that goes. One of the main reasons we bought this dog was to have an off leash hiking partner. Shepherds have that natural instinct to stay close by, which is why we chose this breed. This long line doesn't snag on anything and it doesn't soak up moisture. My current dog took quite a bit more work than the last two, he had a solid recall up until 8 or 9 months when he blew it on a neighbors toy poodle harassing him. After working with the long lead around more toy dog distractions he is now perfect. We have no more problems going out in the yard he completely ignores the poodle. He has always had a perfect recall off of chasing deer, rabbit, and birds and he has a very high prey drive. At 10 months old I would say his recall is now 99%, he no longer blows me off but still I choose to keep the long line on him since it isn't any trouble (not to mention leash laws around here). Here is a video of him going after a bird and then the recall. And another of hiking with the biothane lead (sometimes we cut into those dense areas on your left and right and the lead does well.) Yes I could very well believe those dogs with the e collar were poorly trained, I've seen how effective a good trainer is with an E collar but there are other options for the OP. I didn't go with the E collar because I couldn't afford one and I couldn't afford the trainer. It is too easy to ruin a dog if you do it the wrong way! I also personally don't believe there is any harm waiting until the dog is older, this is adolescence after all they have much growing up to do. We train our recall every single day and we train hard, this pup has been off leash/ or on a long lead in the woods since he was 8 weeks old.


 

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That was a really good article. Something that I have done that I just have always done and it does expand on the "tell" indicators that owners don't realize they are giving off: often time when I take my boy for a ride to a favorite spot, many times when we leave it is to go to another favorite spot. So inadvertantly, I taught him that leaving an area doesn't always mean we are going home.

With all the stuff that I had to learn how to do. It's kind of neat reading something that a good trainer explains and find I was doing something right just by happenstance. Lol.

Op, especially since your pup is young, keep structured training short then just incorporate during play time. At 6yrs old, I still find my boy learns best with short training excersizes that are interspersed with fun time.
 

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6 months is young he is still very much a puppy and will attempt to blow you off it is when I started working with a biothane lead for awhile. You will eventually know what direction you need to go. Dogs are all different. I used a biothane lead with Luna worked great I can actually call her off a deer if she started to run after it. Max lol! Not so much then now yes. - completly different dog. I went the route of the biothane lead for a long time. Around 16 month mark he became most challenging is when I went the route with the e collar and can call max off anything. Often I don’t use it but I make sure I put it one occasionally don’t want to get to comfortable. This dog loves to train with me it’s all he wants to do. Photos of him with no e collar. He just starts smelling the air sticking his big tongue tasting the air - in hunt mode now- it’s when I would not even have a window to redirect him he would just be off on his adventure. Lima is already looking at me. The second photo he looks to me. I can call him away even if a bunch of deer blow by us. I do feel the ecollar really makes the recall solid in many dogs with a high prey drive and many are water proof. When we were at the ocean one late night there was something in the water max started to go after in the water I’m glad I had the ecollar on. I’m glad we stayed out of the water to that night.

I used a trainer to show me how to use the e collar. It had a light at night and waterproof. One day I want the one with the tracker on it. https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/140332
https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Sport-Bundle-Training-Device/dp/B01276FRQG
 

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I don't really agree with the article posted. For many dogs, chasing a deer or rabbit will always be better than a treat, a game, a toy. The idea that the owner needs to be more fun than the environment, pretty crazy if you think about dogs who not only get self-rewarded by chasing, literally addicted to the adrenaline rush, but whose very instincts drive them to run and chase. Lots of dogs out there are like that, some more than others.

I teach my dogs two types of recall- one is always immediately enforced, used for situations the dogs need to turn and sprint to me immediately. The other is more casual. I keep the dogs in practice with the urgent recall using e-collar if needed. I also taught them to come with the tone on the collar. That is a nice feature when the environment is loud and I need to call them (rushing creek, wind, etc.). Most of the time, I never use the e-collars to correct, but have them if I need them.

What did people do before e-collars? Well, a lot of dogs died in the road, some were shot, some were lost. I read an old bird dog training book, they advised to ride down the errant "trash-chasing" dog (eg. a bird dog chasing deer when it should be hunting pheasant), on horseback. When they finally caught the dog, the book advised to give that dog a beating he wouldn't forget. Repeat as needed. Or cull the dog. So, that's one example of what they did before e-collars.

Or you can read Khoeler's training guide and see how he handled it. Remember, before the modern dog-parent era, dogs that didn't naturally work out to the life they were in, were often just gotten rid of, or died due to accident.
 

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I use the collar to proof exercises. However, I am a big believer in teaching the behavior before I add in any kind of pressure or pain. It is unfair to the dog to add that in when they don't understand what is expected of them.

Having said that, a solid recall and a solid down are my go to for safety. The down is the one I use most and continue to proof with electric. If I tell platz and he doesn't drop, there will be tell to pay. It's a non negotiable command that his life could depend on.

There are many roads to Rome. Find the one right for you while being fair to your dog.
 
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