Bubba KNOWS better


New Member
As most of you know, Bubba is 8 yrs. old, and he is more well behaved now, than he has ever been.I believe it's cuz he's w/ me almost 24-7 these days. Anyway, I walk him around the block in the morning, and once before we go to bed, and in the early evening, we take an hour long hike. DAILY! On one part of the hike, I let him go off leash for about 5-10 minutes.To make a long story short- tonight he thought it'd be fun/funny to play "tag". He ignored his name, would not sit, BUT he would stay still....til I took one step towards him...then he'd run. So, I'd run the other way, to make him chase me, and he would, but then keep running past me.Nor would he stop(like usual) as he was going by. He even thought he was slick by staying 20-30 ft behind me-then when I'd go towards him-he'd dash again. AARGH!!!!! I had to call my ol' man so he could come w/the truck, so Bubba would get in. He ALWAYS gets in the truck! BUT Bubba was still "playing his game"! So, he ran beside the truck all the way home! And even then, he didn't want to listen! It was as if he saying," ha ha you can't catch me!"
I usually feed him after our hike,but what he did tonight, I don't want him to think I'm rewarding his bad behaviour. That's ok, right? I mean, he ate earlier today, and he's very healthy,I'm not starving him. I just want him to know he's in trouble....FEEDBACK PLEASE!:dogangry:

Jean Cote

Staff member
Looks like he wanted to play a game with you. If the surroundings are safe, you can just start walking straight somewhere else without even looking back. I do that often with my border collie, she'll get too far away on our walks and I just go and hide behind a tree. She goes nuts after that thinking 'where the heck did he go??'.

P.S. Missing a meal isn't going to hurt him.


Experienced Member
I think every dog eventually figures out that running from humans if very fun. Much to our disgust or fear sometimes when they go somewhere unsafe. Sorry you had to have that happen.

After about 2 minutes there is no way your dog will relate anything that happens the rest of the evening to anything he did during the preceding day or hour. So going without dinner wasn't really necessary since he may have known you were angry but not at what or with him or even why. The best corrections are those done on the spot and right that second. If he had a great sport running home with the truck, as i suspect he did or he wouldn't have done it you may have inadvertently reinforced the behavior of playing tag.

while he cannot connect no dinner to playing chase he sure may have connected the really fun run home with chase since it happened during the game itself. you may want to lure him to you next time instead of introducing something else to the mix.

Dogs LOVE being chased or tag. I suspect the reason he did it the very first time was accidental or he got distracted. your first reaction and the following ones were probably what reinforced the "game and in fact made it a game." Bubba thought well hmm i never tried that before and it's fun!! whee!! Before you let him off leash again I would take some steps to prevent this being a fun habit, the more he does it based on your reaction the more he may do it. ALL of the reward or complete lack of reward here is in what you do. If it's more fun to run from you he will, or if he senses u are mad he may say hmm no way am i going there now. your job is how to figure out how to make it more fun and rewarding to come when called.

Do you carry treats? And when Bubba chose to run was it when you called him and were ready to leash up and leave the free running part of your walk and go home? his intial motivation may have been I'm still having such fun and I want to play more. I would start carrying treats and randomly call him in your house and play the gottcha game. let him know you have a treat, call him, good boy, reach down and lightly grab his collar and say gottcha and give a treat. don't hold onto or pull the collar. after a few times hide the treats on the counter or pocket or in ur mouth. let him guess does she have a treat, and if she does do i get it. eventually you won't have treats every time so you don't want to make a come conditional on you dangling food. he should come running if he's always guessing "this time?"

the idea is that he comes close enough for you to grab and release as a condition for the treat being given. don't do any grabby lunging as you might in trying to catch a dog but lure close enough and reach out casually as you might in shaking hands very low key. i usually scratch my dog’s ear and say gottcha - treat. most dogs will jump away if you lunge for them. it's either fun, they've been caught and punished before, or it's scary to be grabbed.

if you do this enough it reframes the entire behavior of come. come doesn't always mean the fun is over and that it's time to go. i call my dogs to me in the yard all the time when i know they will come--not in the middle of a great game of chase but when casually sniffing around. come, gottcha, treats, release to go play some more. after you practice this in the house with low distractions and then in ur yard (if fenced) off leash with more distractions then i would try releasing on ur walk again but maybe with a 20-50' drag line. this way if your dog runs you just step on the line, calmly walk on it to the dog, re-leash, and finish the walk. don't pull on the drag line or reel the dog in and don't get mad. be calm and remember the goal is to be better than whatever else is out there.

he's doing this because he thought your reaction was fun, now unf your job is to make chasing unfun and come means get treats and go back to play and keep him guessing what will happen when he comes. if by chance he doesn't come when you call and you don't have him on a drag line i would just sit down (have treats) and find a spot in front of you that is the most interesting thing in the world, you might touch it and say wow what is that, ignore the dog, maybe put a treat on the spot. he'll eventually be so curious he'll have to come up. this is when you don't make a lunge and trap him-he'll figure that out and never fall for it again. but play gottcha, lure him in with great meaty stinky treats and then let him go. do it more until maybe the 4th time you gottcha and hook on the leash, jackpot treats wheee lets go home and have dinner.

it also may work if you have a heel command to just issue it and begin walking away. if he heels reward and keep walking. do a few circles and keep rewarding if he heels. stop and offer the treats, walk a few more steps start doing gottcha, treat, walk, gottcha. after a few clip on the leash and give a jackpot reward GOOD BOY!! as already suggested walking away and hiding do really work for most dogs.

i would be careful about being upset enough later in the evening to not give a meal. the vibes you give off may be very upsetting or distressing. the dog may think the people are really mad but i don't know why. and i'm hungry. you don't want him guessing why you are angry at something and losing any trust in you. after all in his mind he's not doing anything wrong - so your emotions could give him cause to pause and not come for reasons other than play. their ability to reason and associate literally is minutes and never could last hours.

since i don't think it's even remotely relatable in his mind i wouldn't deprive a dog of nutrients. esp at 8 years old he's getting pretty old and his body may have some issues with no dinner. if he feels bad the next day because his blood sugar is low or metabolism is slower it would a shame. i know it's hard not to get frustrated or scared or ready to just pull ur hair out. just remember it is all within your control to fix so at least that part is easy. you just have to think a little more like your dog and react a little less like a human. good luck. I do sympathize because I KNOW just how frustrating this is. :dogblush:


New Member
Yeah, I tried doin' that.. but he already knows that trick! I also ended up feedin' him around 10:30 that night. I'm sure he got the point because the next night, he came when I called him!:msngrin:


New Member
Bubba knows!

Well, unfortunately, Bubba is WAY TOO smart for his own good! He'll even try to get the treat w/o getting too close so he can dart off running again! I never lunge at him, cuz I figured that would only scare him. I wouldn't say I play tag w/ him.... when he's bein' silly, I casually walk the other direction, like i don't care whether he comes or not. USUALLY he turns around and follows me, cuz he thinks I'm gonna leave him. But the other night was INSANE! No matter what, he'll always jump in the truck, but he was bein' "Mr. Funny Guy" that night! But yes, I was worried about the intense amount of exercise he did, and what the consequences would be if he wasn't fed, especially @ his age! I didn't look at him @ all until I fed him @ 10:30pm. He knew he was in trouble! The next night, he came IMMEDIATELY when I called him!:dogwink:


Experienced Member
I'm glad you had some success the next day.

I suggest a drag line then and practice gottcha at home where there are few distractions. If you to that there is no way to fail. If he doesn't come close enough at home then he doesn't get the treat and he uses a drag line.

Remember he won't ever know that lack of dinner means he didn't come. Dogs reason on the level of a 3 year old except they do NOT know English. So there mentally is no way for him to reason that out. For example no dog ever learned to sit by not having dinner.

I suggest instead of having him know he's in trouble why not have him dying to come to you because its GREAT!!! If he's in trouble do you really think he'd want to come. Most trainers advise that being mad or scolding the dog is the best way to spoil your poison cue. That and using over and over unsuccessfully. Are you using to die for treats??

Check out http://www.clickertraining.com/node/62

Part of the reason he's not staying could be that he doesn't want to get in trouble...so you should never scold your dog when you ask him to come or he will quit. Remember you want to set your dog up to succeed so there he is happy and WANTS to come to you. Treats, calling when there is a good chance he will come, using treats, never getting upset, never calling for something unpleasant like nail trims or the end to all fun, random calls and releases all the time to practice, training in low distraction areas at home and playing gottcha so he'll get used to a collar hold without worrying about going home.

I truly mean no offence but I wouldn't want my dog to KNOW she was in trouble or worry for one second that she needs to fear what I might do enough not to totally trust me and come running. So if I spend a lot of time making sure that she wants to come and trusts me my chances for success are greater.

Think of this from a dog’s point of view. They are what's in it for me creatures. If the what's in it is you mad and he goes home why the heck would he stick around. I sure wouldn't when the alternative is a great game of chase, running after the car, and not being punished or around the person that is angry and i'm not sure I trust. You are presenting him with a bunch of choices that guarantee failure. There's not much in it for him to come. There is a huge advantage in not coming.

So the problem and the failure are yours not his. Meant kindly. ;) The good news is that you are in complete control of your behavior so it's very easy to change. As you change he will respond accordingly. The only reason dogs do anything for us is that there is a reward in it.

I guess my opinion is formed by the changes from my 4yo's training compared to my puppy. While I never got mad or scolded my 4yo when I was training come I didn't do it as often and call and release her a lot. So I spent a lot of time walking down her drag line to get her. With my 1yo puppy I've never failed to have her come when called. The biggest difference is more practice and gottcha game, always use food esp as a puppy, set them up to succeed, make it worth it to come.

I've seen people at the dog park call their dogs angrily to them and the dog crawls up fearful. That the dog came in that situation is a testament to the incredible wonderful biddable nature of the dog. We have been breeding them for thousands of years to do as we ask. I'd be heartbroken if my dog every crawled to me fearful or for a moment thought they didn't trust me.

Just give it a try. I hate to see you not succeeding in this because he clearly enjoys your walks. Did you ever want to go to your parents when they yelled your name and said get in here NOW you are in big trouble!!!!! I sure didn't. Just remember don't expect him to make logical connections when he's not mentally capable of it.

Best of luck.