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Problems with recall. Commands being totally blanked.

Hello all :-).

I've had Harley for four years (since a pup) now and although we had some recall issues with him as a puppy, they were overcome and he was brilliant. Until around six weeks ago that is....

The issue I am having is unless we are on our own (no other dogs or humans in sight) he is totally blanking my recall commands. Not only is it annoying for me when he refuses to come back but also, he will run up to other dogs and owners and be a real pest. Despite being socialised as a puppy and throughout his life as an adult, he seems to be unable to read other dogs body language and will get right in their face until some are snapping and growling at him purely because he is insistent that he wants to be 'friends'.

I have tried recall in the garden and rewarding with high-value treats the second he comes back (dog chocolate drops which he adores) and I've also done it in our park. He will come back straight away and sit and wait unless there is another dog or human around. At that point he may as well be deaf and I may as well not be there.

He is an entire (I'm wondering if this could be the problem considering the time of year?!) dog. Four years old.

There has been no change in handling, rules, surroundings or any disturbances to his routine so I am genuinely at a loss as to what to do next. 

When he runs off, people think he is a badly trained dog and I am a lazy owner and that couldn't be further from the truth. In every other respect, he is fab and really a good boy who I can take anywhere (including on the bus and through town to the dog groomers and back again. He was perfectly behaved and didn't put a foot wrong!). It's just this recent habit of 'I'm deaf, I can't hear you!' with recall that is causing issues, to such an extent I am now reluctant to let him off the lead which is obviously a bad thing as he needs to stretch his legs and run.

He is taken out daily for at least an hour so it isn't lack of exercise either :?. I don't know if the fault lays with me, him or whether it is 50/50. I am genuinely at a loss as to what to do but it can't go on as I don't want this becoming a lifelong habit. He needs to come back when I call him not only for the sake of good manners but also safety issues. 

Thanks in advance for any help or advice :-).

Loving Setter owner who is at the brink of tearing her hair out! ;-).

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Can I suggest first of all change you titbits. Try hot dog sausages, to get a dog to recall it must be worth their while to come back. Stick to a one word command, make it a short word. Start training in the house and garden get your treats throw one bit out about 5 or 6 feet as soon as the dog runs out to pick it up have another treat ready shout the dogs name to get it's attention use your recall command to get the dog to come back. The dog soon learns the quicker it gets the first treat the quicker it get back for the second treat. Do this 6 times a day in 6 different areas, that way the dog learns no matter were it is when you shout it has to come back to you.

Thanks for the tip Val-i am going to try that.Got just the treat in mind!. Tina and Bailey.

I agree with Val. When Harley was a pup, he soon figured that just a 'good boy' wasn't enough for him to come back to me!

I found he would do anything for little discs of cooked sausage. I spent a couple of times doing it in the house, then moved out in to the garden and did it a few times, once he was coming back with that, I got my brother to come in to the garden and add a bit of distraction to test if Harley was listening to me with others around. Once he'd got the idea that as soon as he came back, he got a juicy reward and some fuss, it was easy to link up the two once he was out in public. I tried it with him when the park was quiet and in a more enclosed area before introducing allowing him off the lead in an open space. The issue with him wasn't running off, it was the fact he would only come back when he decided he wanted to!

Obviously, tone of voice makes a difference. He has two chances to come back when I call him and say his name in a friendly way, the third time the deep tone of voice comes out and he knows I mean business. 9/10 this works. Very rarely does he ignore me now. A short command of his name coupled with 'here!' works, short, sharp and to the point.

As for his recent running off exploits? It seems it was the time of year and him being full of beans. Not long after I posted this he reverted back to his obedient ways. Thank goodness! :-D.

I am so pleased Harley has settled down. I'm definately going to try this method with Bailey-distractions and all.He ran up to three little girls in the park yesterday,they screamed their heads off this big lollopy red thing hurtling towards them to say hello!. So we definately need to practice at home. Will let you know how we get on. Many thanks Tina and Bailey.

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