Posted by hamish
Feb 22, 2010
I have two male dogs, one labrador of 8yrs and a Golden retreiver of 3 1/2yrs. The golden retreiver is the problem in that training has been difficult because his attention span is short. After 5-10mins training he has to run around to allow his natural excitement to come out. However, close to he now is not bad and will come, sitstay etc. Once he gets more than 50ft away his tail goes up and he will not reliably listen to any command. When he does come back he is praised, and often given a treat, but it does not improve his general performance. Now he has started wandering from the house, and was found a couple of miles away this morning - across a main road. It is not possible to fence our property, and there are distractions such as foxes - a vixen on heat? and deer. He has not been neutered, do you think this would help, and do you have any other suggestions?
Posted by KOPsRobyn
Feb 25, 2010
Hi Hamish

It is a very good idea to have your dog neutered, because it is very likely that his high testosterone levels are causing him to wander. He will be looking for all the female dogs on heat in the area and so do not be surprised if he does travel quite long distances to get to them. It also will be contributing to his inattention to you and why he is so easily distracted. The operation is a relatively simple procedure and if your vet is experience, it will be one that they have undertaken many times, so the risk of complications is minimal. By neutering him, you are also reducing the risk of him developing other health issues in the future.

You may find it helps to exercise him for a while prior to the training as this will get some of the initial excitement out of him, which should help him concentrate better. You could also try ‘random walking’ if he continues to be over-exuberant. This is where you have him on a short leash and walk him around a small area. You should keep changing directions and the speed that you are walking, so that he will have to keep his attention on you the whole time. This exercise is both mentally and physically stimulating, and so you should find that he doesn’t need to run around so much after training. Keep in mind though that it is very taxing and so make sure you don’t persist for too long each time.

You will also want to reinforce your alpha dog training with him, so that he understands clearly that you are the leader and he has to look to you for direction and instructions. There are a few things that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you establish your status. These include insisting that you walk ahead of him through doorways and when walking on the leash, and feeding him after you have finished your own meal. You must ignore him if he comes up to you for attention, as he has to learn that attention from you is earned and not just given out whenever he wants it. Before you pat him or play with him, give him a command, such as 'sit-stay' so that he will see that your attention is a reward for good behavior. This will act as an incentive for the future. If you are playing a game with him, make sure it is you that chooses the toy and when you decide that you have had enough, take the toy away with you so that he realizes that it is you that controls playtime. When you first come home, you should greet the rest of the household first before saying hello to him, which will help him realize his place in the hierarchy. All these will show him that you are the alpha dog and that he should be looking to you for commands.

I hope this helps and all the best with the training!