Recall - Still a mystery!

Posted by wheelingtony
Feb 23, 2008
I wrote in mid December about the recall problem with my Golden Retriever, Keesa. I have followed the advice given every day since but, in a nutshell, I am no further forward.

On her long lead, she will come most of the time and sit beside me. At certain points on our regular walk where I need more control, she will even "come", "round heel", and "sit" on the strength of a single hand signal - no verbal prompt.

She can maintain up to 4 minutes "Sit-Stay" even with distractions. BUT she will do none of those things if the lead is taken off.

I am so fed up with the lack of progress that I decided to make a list of all the things she could do and, I have to say, it was an impressive list. As an indication, Keesa will now follow a laser pointer and pick up items that I cannot reach from my wheelchair. So what's going on in her head when free recall is required?:confused: She clearly knows what the command requires, she seems happy to accept my alpha status in many other ways, and she shows no fear or anxiety.

Could you have another think about this one?

Kind regards,

Posted by elmariachino
Feb 23, 2008
Hello Tony,
I would suggest the use of a non visible line (big diameter fishing line).
I used this technique with my defunct Lab, and it worked well.
Start in a big confined area (i used a tennis playground), attach the line to the Keesa's collar (she will think she's off leash). When u recall her, give a small nudge with the fishing line (use a heavy duty glove, the line is like a blade), don't pull just nudge, encourage her when she steps towards you, keep nudging until she reaches you,
give her a special treat (always change treats so she expects a new surpirse every time, if she knows the fetch command, a ball would be ideal) and release her as soon as you give her the treat (so she'll be assured you won't retain her freedom).
A couple of days and Keesa will start to asssociate the recall command with a positive reward.
This worked well for me, I hope your Keesa will learn something out of it.
Posted by 1whisper
Mar 5, 2008
That's great advice and sound like it would work, for most at least, but what do you do if your dog doesn't react to treats when off the lead or not with other dogs to encourage her to take it.
I'm at a loss

I'm beginning to realise how many problems a really have since reading these posts.

anyway hope the advice given works for you

Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Mar 8, 2008
Hi Tony.

I am sorry to hear that Keesa's issue is still there. I was impressed that she can bring things out of your reach to you! She is like a service dog and I know how much you love her!!

Regarding the recall issue, knowing that she is so smart, maybe she has mistaken "off leash" as "total freedom". She is obedient and behaves so well when she is leashed so she needs just a puppy time when she is not leashed.

After all she is still a puppy, especially a GR puppy! Do you play with her fetch, or does she have a doggy buddy that she can wrestle around or play with?

I understand you are on wheelchair so it might be difficult but maybe you can go to an open area and throw balls or Frisbees for a good 15 minutes everyday. Fetching is good because she will have to bring the thing to you to be played with again, and again. It can be a strong reward for Keesa and also it will teach her that coming back to you is not an end of freedom as elmariachino said.

As I read your postings, I thought maybe what Keesa needs is a way to burn out of her energy. Please keep us posted with her progress. Good luck
Posted by wheelingtony
Mar 14, 2008
Thanks for all the helpful comments.

The nylon fishing line one would be a bit of a problem because everything like that gets caught up in my wheelchair (I have cordless keyboard, mouse and headphones for the same reason) but I realised I could achieve a similar effect by taking Keesa to a tenns court where her freedom is limited but without the lead. I do this after she has run off her energy/enthusiasm on her regular walk.

Lo and behold, after tearing away from me on first release, she comes back on command and we play fetch for a while until she starts to get bored. We then do some sit/stay excercises which she does quite well, allowing me to wheel away from her around the court without breaking. Until, that is, I go the other side of the net. Even though she can see me through the netting, she is showing the first tiny sign of separation anxiety - which is good.

After some more good sessions in the tennis court, I went to a large enclosed paddock and tried again. She just wasn't interested! She did a few "fly by" returns at full speed swerving at avoid me at the last minute! So I think I have to be patient and wait for her to grow up.

I am sure that Keesa has made the distinction between short lead, long lead, and freedom!!

Finally, yes, I do want her to reach assistance dog standard. She is happiest when she can show off her yellow high-viz jacket in a busy shopping centre and her behaviour is perfect. She laps up all the praise but I do also want her to enjoy being a young, lively, bright dog who wants to play and get dirty.

I'll let you guys know how I get on.

Thanks again,