Help with recall when out please?

Posted by elle
Oct 6, 2008
Hello there everyone,

Also new to this forum as well!

OK - here's our problem .... several months ago we rehomed a 2 1/2 yr old female lab (from a family so we have her background) who is good-natured, good company and well-behaved .... until we are out on walks and meet other dogs.

When there is no other dog (or rabbit/gamebird/squirrel) around she will come back to us, no problem. However, whenever she sees another dog, she drops to the ground and does a 'commando' crawl in between running to meet the other dog and will not come back to us no matter what we do. She totally ignores us and doesn't even look back to see where we are.

We have to go and retrieve her from the other dog and owner :eek:

Recently she ran off and tried to 'play' with a horse when DH slipped and accidentally let go of her lead but thankfully :eek: we know the owner to pass the time of day with and it was a placid animal. (It could have been very different - spooked horse and injured rider or horse-shoe-prints over the dog)

This has gotten worse since she was speyed recently.

Apart from not letting her off-lead when we go out can anyone give us some pointers please as it's not only embarrassing but also potentially dangerous as one day she could get bitten by another dog that is NOT so pleased to see her as she is to see them.

We are relatively new dog owners so are open to advice/suggestions,

She completed her bronze obedience class a few months back.
Thank you.

elle & Georgia
Posted by Annie
Oct 7, 2008
what worked for me was using a really long ( not retractable) thinish line. I would let her play with no distractions, and then call her to me ( I also raise one arm up high) and if she didn´t react I would give a sharp tug, call again, and then haul in the line...her at the end, and me waiting happily with yummy treats. This worked much better with a friend doing the pulling as timing is important, and always be happy when she comes.

Unfortunately my dog worked out when the line was on...and when I left it off...hmmm...but I kept having yummy treats, and it was working great. Then we had to start all over again with distractions around....but she learnt much quicker than the no distractions stage. Now I am 99% confident about her recall.

It is also good to teach 'leave-it' or I say 'OFF' and she must immediately leave the animal, car, rabbit, toy alone.

Again, starting small with no distractions and building up. I used lots of treats, others don´t. It is also possible to visit lots of horses etc and teach the 'OFF' when she goes too close, but it also good and takes away the mystery if she can smell the animals.

With other dogs your dog needs to learn to stay with you until you give the go play command. If it is possible, get her on the line and approach the other owners ( this may be chaotic!) and have your dog sit and wait while you speak to the other owner...then let them play. I even worked on this in a dog area where dogs off line would bound up to my dog and she must sit, or walk by me. Luckily she has no line aggression which would make problems, but she learnt to really wait till I gave the command to 'go'

You also sound nervous about another dog biting your dog. If her behaviour upsets you, then change something, but it also a good lesson for the other dogs to 'teach' each other within reason.

But, she sounds like a fun friend, who just has lots of energy like a excited kid on the first day of school! After the operation it may take a while for things to settle down, and she is still quite young. It sounds to me like she´s a bit spoilt when outside the house and she needs to learn a few more rules so that you can enjoy it more.

hope some thing helps,
Posted by elle
Oct 7, 2008
Hi Annie

Thanks for your comments re helping our girl to be better behaved when out.

We had a rescue dog prior to her (collie x lurcher!) and it was a bad experience for us (he got attacked by a GSD and then one day he went for a 'toy' dog whilst he was out on a lead:mad so I guess we are a bit nervous of anything happening to her as she's such a lovable and good-natured dog.

It really is a case of getting her to [B]focus on us[/B] instead of whatever else is around when we're out - she even looks around constantly to see if any other dog is around when we go out. Will try with hand signals as well like with a deaf dog perhaps?

Living with fields around us, there are constant distractions - as you can imagine - but we will work on this.

The only thing she doesn't like are cows - growls and barks at them and they just stare back at her

She will chase chickens too if she gets the chance. I think she is part gun-dog so there is some potential for some strange behaviour around game we've noticed.

We've even tried the 'dog whisperer' bit of hissing/growling at her but she totally ignores that - even using a dog-whistle!

Perhaps some gravel in a small bottle to rattle and get her attention - or even a water pistol?

There's nothing wrong with her hearing as you just have to rustle the dog-food bag in the kitchen and she's there so that's one thing less to tick off the list.

Being a lab, she is VERY food-orientated but we have to watch her weight as she's at the heavier end (34 kg) of the desired range.

Will keep you informed of our progress - thanks again for your input!

Elle & Georgia
Posted by Annie
Oct 16, 2008
Hi, back again!
I think we live in a similar environment. I have 100 free range chickens next door, lots of fields ( with the occasional car) horses, bike riders, cows and deer, squirrels etc etc. hmmm.......
The chicken problem sorted itself out as she liked to eat the chickens food that was lying on the the chickens were left alone, but the owner warned me off, so for 1 year I always used a leash to go through this field. She must stay by foot, and I was so strict that she couldn´t even look at the chickens....I would say 'OFF' loudly and turn away. Really off limits, I didn´t want her to get a taste of chook chook! Now a year later she walks without lead, tucks in behind me by this farm, and turns her head away from temptation.....unfortunately my husband doesn´t bother with training her, so when he walks her she is 'in amongst the pidgeons' but does no harm....

You say she is scared of cows. It would be good if she was bored by cows and not scared. It´s natural to be wary of a larger animal, but fear can also go into frustration. Try to de-sensitise her....horses as well...

You are lucky she is food orientated, mine isn´t so. Give her less in her regular meals, and really make the treats good. When I was training recall I always had a tiny cat food tub ( gourmet meals) in my jacket. When her 'OFF' or recall was OK she got a treat...but the day she left a rabbit to circle round and come straight back to me I gave her the ' JACKPOT!!!!' I don´t believe she has forgotton that one...and is always hopeful that it might appear again!

She should be able to live in peace with farm animals. A lab is not a strong hunting or herding dog, so I think it would help if you could de-sensitise her more. Does she get lots of dog company too?
Our problem is that our dog was mostly off line, and I felt silly in the fields with her on a line. However I lost control over her and she did not respect me or listen so good. Maybe try getting her back on the line, and going over the basics, getting her to learn to go for walks together as a team and not a solo dog.

Let me know how you´re getting on...
Posted by Annie
Oct 16, 2008
for me the winner was stones in an empty can with duct tape over the top. There were times I threw this on the ground near her to stop her fixation on a horse etc. and to get her to listen to me. I tried the water pistol but it was too fun for it to work ( also got abused by my kids! )
I also use the growling technique. And I had to laugh when you 'try a bit of hissing/growling.'...! You need to sound a bit more assertive than that my friend ! you are only gunna look really silly to your neighbours and familly but what the hell! You gotta HISS and GROWL and open your body up, and stand tall, and fix your mean old eyes on the dog, and step forward!!!! You are showing your little sweety that her actions will not be tollerated in this family and she needs to knuckle down and make good! ( it works for husbands too ! )

take care,
Posted by aussiegirl1
Feb 22, 2010
Hi Elle, I dont realy do forums,but come on here to look at what others were saying. Your problem then is exactly mine now. I have a lovely affectionate rescue lab who is now 3, i got her oct 2008. She is totally fixed on and looking for other dogs to play with when we go out and she totally ignores me,toys, food or attention when there is another dog in sight. Did you manage to solve your problem? If so how did you do it? I hope you still,use this site as first hand experience is always good.. hope to hear from you soon. Ann