Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by lorna, May 13, 2009.

  1. lorna New Member

    My young dog Zena is normally well behaved and listens to me in the house but when we go into the garden and she is running about or just lying in the grass and I call her to come sometimes she just ignores me or she comes.
    If she is playing with a toy or has something in her mouth that she shouldn't i.e. a stone and I want her to come she runs in the opposite direction. Does anyone have any tips for me as to how I can remedy this problem. Thanks.

  2. fickla Experienced Member

    It's great that Zena is listening to you so well in the house! Outside though is much harder since you're dealing with distractions. I would recommend never saying the magical word of "come" unless you are 99% sure Zena is going to come to you. Otherwise Zena learns that she can ignore it whenever you want and possibly get a good game of chase me going. Second, I would always always give Zena a great treat when she does come to you. So if you don't have a treat, you can still encourage her to come to you, but don't say "come." Third, if you think Zena will come to you, say "come", give her a treat, but then release her to play again. This way she learns that "come" doesn't mean the end of playtime, it just means a really good treat.

    Really you just want to make come the best game ever! Practice a ton in the house, always reward and make it easy for her. Gradually work on distractions, this works best if you have someone to help you. If she doesn't come you, don't keep repeating the word "come", but try runnign the opposite direction. Most dogs can't resist a game of chase, you just want her chasing you not the opposite. You can also try lying on the ground and hope that she won't be able to resist the chance to come sniff your face. If nothing is working and you have to get her, I would calmly walk, never run, after her. At first she will trot happily away from you and have fun, but if you never run or try to grab for her Zena will realize that you are not playing and the dog's attitude changes from one of glee to one of "oh crap!" I don't punish them when I get there, but just silently grab the collar and lead them into the house.

    You might want to consider letting her outside only on a long line for awhile so you can step on the rope pretty easily if needed. And try doing some basic obedience or tricks outside in the yard too. Many dogs think the yard just means fun and games and that no rule seems to apply in the yard. So spending some time out there with her practicing simple cues is a good place to start.
  3. lorna New Member

    Thank you for the tips, I will try this and also get my other half to try too. What should I say instead of "come" when trying to get her to come to me, should I just call her name? We are attending puppy classes and she does what she is meant to do there and as I am working full time and the weather here is so wet at the moment I try and fit some training in when I can. Hopefully I can do more when the weather dries up a bit:-)
  4. fickla Experienced Member

    A short answer to your question is say anything but your recall word when you think she's too distracted to come. So I clap my hands, whistle, say the dog's name...

    For a long answer, you have a couple different options. Generally I recommend that if your dog ignores the word "come" quite a bit, then people should just start over with any brand new word. It's easier to start over than trying to reteach your dog that "come" is more exciting than ignoring it. So a lot of people in my classes say the dog's name, clap their hands, run backwards, and maybe use their old word "come" when they don't think they dog actually is going to run to them right away but they still need the dog.

    When they are practicing recalls, I have a lot of people switch the magical word to "here" or "Front" or some people even use the word "cookie." Since the dog doesn't know what this means, I first have them load the word by saying "here" and giving their dog a treat right away. Repeat several times, and then start backing up saying "here", when your dog comes then give them a treat. But this new word becomes their magical recall word that they only say when they know the dog is going to come.

    For example, I tell my dog "Front" if I want the very formal obedience recall of dogs running straight to you and sitting promptly in front of me. I use the word "come" as my magical word, that I started out saying only when I was fairly certain the dog was going to do it. I always always give a treat when I say "come". When I was still training "come" I also used the word "here" and gave them a treat for coming, but "here" is my most informal cue. So when first training I might say my dog's name and "here" even if I wasn't sure they would come right away. I would still try to encourage them by clapping my hands and running away, but since "here" wasn't my magic word it wasn't as big of a deal if the dogs needed some help getting to me. Now days, "here" means get in close to me, but you don't necessarily have to come within arms reach.
  5. lorna New Member

    Thank you. I will try it at the weekend and let you know how I get on. Puppy class again tomorrow so I hope it doesn't rain like is forecast or will need to give it a miss.
  6. sarhaspups New Member

    All great advise!! I just wanted to add to what Flicka said. I would definately recommend you change the word to 'here' or something else that way you can start all over with training her to come to you. And just as Flicka said, never say it if you don't think she will succeed! You can say her name when you call her. For example with my puppy right now I say his name "Wit" and say it strongly. "ZeNA" you can put a stonger (not mean) tone on the "NA" of her name to make her look at you. Most times this will get the dog moving towards you when they hear their name but if not you can use a toy or run the opposite direction of her, or just take a few steps backwards to make her come towards you, once she is coming towards you say "here". If she stops half way run the other way and clap, hackle, woo hoo, Zena catch me... ect. Make it a game of chasing YOU! I will even tell my puppy "come and get me!" If she likes a tug toy, use it only to reward her coming to you, that way that toy is so exciting when you pull it out to play with her.
    I don't like to say come or here too 'loose' and playful b/c they will not respect the word if you are saying 'here Zena, here in a high pitched playful way. Remember that a strong recall CAN save your dogs life so it is definately something you want to work on in your back yard constantly. If you say 'come' in a tone that displays play... my dogs say 'oh she doesn't mean it' and keep on doing what they want. If I say COME and mean it, they know the difference. I love the excersise Flicka mentioned about 'loading the word'. That will really make a difference and she will succeed a lot easier by doing this.
    Also, for the first few weeks I would leave her on a long line 30 or more feet when you are practiciing, this way you can give a tug on the long line when she isn't paying attention to you or is ignoring you & if that doesn't work you can reel her right into you. :)
    If you are using treats , when she comes to you, put the treat between your legs at her eye level so she has to come ALL the way into you, I usually make them sit automatically but you don't have too. Reach down and put your fingers through her collar and pet her, praise her. Putting your fingers through her collar will desensitize her to it and if there is an emergancy she won't back away when you reach for her collar.
    I hope this makes sense and helps give you some ideas. Good luck! Let me know if you need me to clarify anything.
    Happy training :)
  7. lorna New Member

    Thanks Sarha, only a little question thou, what do you mean with 'loading the word'?
  8. snooks Experienced Member

    Good advice here. I also have a few things to add to already wonderful words. Loading the word or loading a clicker for example is the practice of associating the word with food (or a favorite toy if your dog isn't food motivated). An example is the name game. Say Fido and give a treat within one second whether the dog looks at you or not. This means you need to be in close proximity, low distractions. Inside or in a room that is quiet is perfect. Pretty soon if you give the treat every time you say Fido the dog will immediately react to the word and look at you or come to you. When the dog realizes that Fido = food and thinks about it and reacts to you means now that Fido is loaded. You could now move somewhere else and do it a few more times and add distractions.

    This is very useful in getting your dogs attention and teaching his name. Don't expect perfection or even close at first or he'll get bored or frustrated and walk away. Set him up to succeed and keep it short 1-2 minutes is a long time for a puppy. As I said the first few times you may just have to put the treat in front of his nose just after you say his name. Soon he should be whipping around to look at you and for his treat. Slowly work up to getting more for your Fido but not too fast. If you go too fast he'll lose interest and you'll know you need to step back a bit. Go slow, maybe looking at you for a second longer before giving the treat. Show him the treat at first - then start hiding it behind ur back or in ur fist. Treats should be given quickly within 1-3 seconds so they'll associate it with the word. What you don't want is a dog that will only come or listen if you display food. I usually put mine behind my back or on a counter out of sight.

    In agility we also put the treat in our mouth and sometimes show it to the dog then close lips and hide it in our mouth. My dogs both know how to catch treats that I spit at them...yes it sounds gross and I thought eww I will never do that but it was so effective in getting my dog to look at me and my face and focus on me that I relented. It was so fast and I didn't need to move to do it so it was very easy to keep them guessling. I don't spit food at them now that the training is solid. My goal is to be so tricky and so random after the behavior is solid they NEVER know when mom will give out treats so they come every time just to check and see. I usually have treats in my pocket and in out of reach containers in most rooms. But they never know when I will give one. A jerky treat can last a long time in my pocket. We also used it to keep the dog focused on us after giving a cue "with me." If the dog looked away I might spit food on the ground and then try to beat my dog to it. If I got it first I would say hmm too bad you weren't paying attention and keep the treat. And in 15 seconds or so give her another chance to succeed. She learned that when I gave that cue that a laser focus on me could be very rewarding. This is for short duration work only as on an agility course. It's often helpful to teach them to catch treats in the air to be really fast. Starting with tossing popcorn can help because it floats a little.

    You treat 100% until the dog really has it down and you can predict that he will look at you 98% of the time. The art of fading the 100% treats is a little different. Once he has it down solid indoors you move up gradually to more distractions like other dogs or people, the back yard, the drive way, the park. Do it often and do it every day for brief periods of a minute or randomly during the day-always with treats. And do it in as many places as you can so the dog can generalize, come in the kitchen is the same as come in the park.

    Once you get 100% compliance in the house you can start giving treats every other time then every 4th time and then random. If the dog doesn't listen then you went too fast. The trick is if you give food always 100% of the time your dog will figure out that come when you like is just as rewarding as come NOW. So there is a balance. You'll need to treat longer to get over the hump with more distractions like at the dog park and that might take months. The kitchen might take a few weeks. Once you get over that hump though slowly fade to random unpredictable. Never fade to zero or the behavior will stop. Dogs are what's in it for me creatures. You can alternate food and toys and play - whatever works. I really reward come with great food and praise for much longer than other work to be sure it is cemented in the puppy brain.

    The gottcha game which I taught my puppy is something fun we play as part of our come. As Sarha mentions with the collar touch I don't give the treat until puppy comes close enough for me to reach gently and put my fingers on her collar, give her a nice ear rub, say gottcha, immediately let go and give a treat. You don't want the dog to come only to dance out of your reach or stay out of reach because of what you do when he does come. They need to expect a gentle collar touch and no negative association in the even there is an emergency some day and you do need to get them fast. I train longer with food for come and i train with always high value treats that the dog loves, not kibble. You are in a contest with the rest of the world to be more interesting than whatever your dog is experiencing. Coming to you needs to be a valuable thing to them so great food and really great emotional associations are critical. Come is you life line and can save your dog's life, it's important.

    A few things that will help. Don't ever make come be the end of fun if they come for the 20th time at the park and you clip on the leash maybe tuggy toy to the gate or get their ball and toss it to them. Example call come only when you leash up to leave the dog park, or come to do something unpleasant like a nail trim or scolding. Don't call come when you know your dog probably won't like blasting around the yard after a squirrel or at the dog park in a fun game of chase. Instead start at home inside where your chances are better and distractions are low and randomly call come and treat and release the puppy back to whatever she was doing. A playing puppy won't like coming only to be smothered in a hug and restrained from the business of puppy play she was going about. Work up to the back yard calling the dog only when you think there is a very good chance she will come. If food isn't a motivator use a ball or favorite toy, a squeaky is a great motivator for my two. Come gottcha treat release. Even at the dog park periodically call come gottcha treat release. If you are more random in giving this very important cue and what follows it, it will work.

    Don't call come if you are unwilling to enforce it-if you do you teach the dog that come means come over here when you feel like it. Every time you don't takes 20+ times of doing it right for the dog to realize she means it. So one lazy time defeats your purpose a lot. By enforcing i don't mean going to the dog and dragging it to you. I mean use a long drag line if you must and step on the line if the pup is prone to running (while the dog is still don't stop them running with the line since it could injure) try enticing them with patting the ground or making funny noise first if they don't come walk up the line, gottcha, release. A 20' line isn't something the dog really figures out that you can use to catch them in a positive way. As in field retriever work ur in a field which is the purpose. They must learn to come in that context to be safe which means eventually you must practice there. Unless you have good solid work with a dog that is at least two yo and have been training two years I don't ever advocate letting ur dog run unleashed in an unfenced area just for safety sake. I have friends that lost dogs in the mountains on vacation and never saw them again. :( Don't ever use the line to reel the pup in, just to walk down it and make sure you don't have to chase (because that is actually very fun for dogs and you don't want to go there) your dog and can calmly and positively gottcha with your dog and release.

    Don't ever associate punishment or frustration with coming to or being near you. This also means don't call come and allow the dog not to come. If you must run away and excite them to chase you, squat and act silly, look at a spot on the ground as if it is the most interesting thing in the world, talk in a high pitched voice, and get a great toy or smelly treats like hot dogs or cheese. When the dog comes don't ambush them and take them inside or scold them. Remember you want to teach coming to me is always great and I want to inspire you to do it in the presence of any and all distractions with time and practice. The key to success is random and often in low distraction environments and work your way up.

    The other thing that works often is teaching the dog to target your hand and play some round robin touch games with a partner or several people. When puppies go through adolescence and "lose" their hearing. My puppy is coming out of that stage now. I don't call come when I think she won't because I don't want to poison my come cue. But she'll always come running if I say her name and touch while holding my hand down to target. There is more than one way to achieve your purpose always.
  9. lorna New Member

    Thanks also snooks, I did a little training on Friday evening but as my daughter was sick over the weekend my puppy class on Saturday had to be cancelled. Tried a little of the name treat and it worked so will keep working on that. Trying hard to get my husband motivated and to tell him the words which I use so he can use the same ones. Language is also a key point with us. I am now trying to say all words in English not German so we don't get mixed up. My daughter is also learning how to teach the puppy, has managed to get her to lie down using the clicker. I was amazed at how quickly my daughter picked up exactly when to click treat and the puppy also enjoys it.
    Well, will keep you posted as to how I get on this week. Am on holiday Wednesday and Thursday so you know what I will be doing :-)
  10. sarhaspups New Member

    Sounds like you are off to a good start and so awesome your daughter is enjoying training too!! Thanks snooks for answering her question about loading the word for me. Keep us posted lorna!
  11. lorna New Member

    Getting there

    Been really busy and not had time to update here. Training is going well and Zena now comes 90% of the time when I call her. My husband has the problem now that she won't come when he calls her. Although that said he is getting better as he is now watching how I do it.
    At the puppy training, Zena is so good and does all the things she is meant to and at home goes back to doing what she shouldn't, if that makes sense.
    I have now trained her (with the help of my daughter) to lie down and to give me her paw on the "hello" command. It's amazing how quickly she is picking these things up.
    She is also getting the hang of leave it and give, it's a long process with these commands but we are sticking with them and the special treats are worth gold to her.
    Will keep you posted:dogsmile:
  12. Jean Cote Administrator

    One month ago ...

    And now ...

    Nice! Congratulations on the breakthrough! :dogsmile: Thank you all for who have helped lorna with her dog training, you deserve a big hand! :dogsmile:
  13. snooks Experienced Member

    Yay for you and congrats on the wonderful progress. Two gold puppy stars for you and an Well Done from me.!! :dogblush: Please do keep us updated.

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