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Piper_Golden
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Piper is my second golden. My first golden we adopted at age 5. From the moment we got her she stuck to us like glue and was almost never on a leash outside. We did not have an electronic fence and she never ran away. If she chased a squirrel she stopped when I called her. Maybe we were just lucky with her personality but it was great!
We now have a 21 month golden. We cannot trust her for anything. She pulled away from me a couple of weeks ago and pulled the leash right out of my hand. I was on the front lawn and she took off running with a look on her face that said, "yay!! I am free!!". I was mortified. I called her and she ran straight for the street as an suv was driving towards her. The car slammed on the brakes and a worker in our front yard grabbed her and dragged her back to me where I took her in the house. I was so sure she would be hit by that car that it took me hours to recover even though she was ok.
A neighbor has a golden that is just a few months older than ours and he is off leash in the yard with the family all the time and does not act crazy! Do these dogs mature as they get older and stick close to their owners or does this require a specific kind of training? I want to train her to be off leash in the yard and enjoy the family and obey but I cannot see it. What can I do? Anybody have any suggestions? If I let her off leash I am 100% sure she will run away and not come back. Unlike my other dog.
 

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I'm sorry if this comes off as flippant, but this is real non-sarcastic suggestion: Have you thought about having a real physical fence put up? It doesn't mean you'd have to become one of those dog owners who leaves the dog outside by itself, you could use the yard just as you do now and stand or sit with the dog the entire time and bring the dog back in with you when you go in. I have a small fenced in yard and I don't let my dog out there by himself, but it gives him an outdoor area he can be in and feel safe and move around in off-leash where I don't have to worry about him getting hurt or violating any leash laws and irritating neighbors, and if I am feeling bad health wise I can slump on the stoop or open the door and lean against the wall while he moves around.

I do bring my dog to some relatives' home sometimes and stand out in an unfenced yard they have while he plays with their dogs, but I trained him to do that from eight weeks, and the dog that preceded him in that ad-hoc group already knew to stay out of the road and so on and so forth (Though that dog did not know to stay in sight, so I had to train him a little bit as well), which helped teach my dog.

How long have you had your 21 month old? Did you get her as a puppy or did you adopt her at a later age? I ask because I'm inclined to say that if you got her as a puppy, you might want to consider just accepting that her personality is what it is at this point and work around it, but if you only adopted her more recently, maybe she just needs to be taught about the yard more and what it's boundaries are. The most basic way to do that is to call her back when she is getting close to the edge and praise her consistently and profusely whenever she listens and starts coming your way, even if it's just a few steps.
 

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Lots of obedience training, working on recall especially. Until your dog is 100%, with distractions, don't trust him.

I think some dogs are more likely to stick close than others. Our Ben is a very independent dog. And he is not especially obedient. But we haven't done a lot of work on his recall, past the basics. In class, he was fine. In a high distraction situation, he goes completely deaf.

Ben is not allowed off leash at all, because a) he loves to run free, thinking it a great game, and b) he has a strong prey drive, so if he sees anything moving he'll chase after it, whether it's a squirrel, a deer, a bike or a car. So far, the times he has gotten loose have been in relatively safe areas, and he didn't wander very far because we were after him immediately. He is usually looking for dogs to say hello to, so we go where the dogs are.

A few days ago he got out as the garage door was closing. He ran down the street, grabbed some dog's huge bone, and ran back home. We don't know whose bone it was, but he led us a merry dance trying to keep us from taking it away.

Golden999 - where we live, we aren't allowed to put up fences unless you have a pool. It's in the covenant we signed when we moved in. Our house had an e-fence, so we figured we were covered, until we learned that Ben ignores the fence when there's something exciting going on outside it. We turned it off and just use a leash.
 

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Nancy
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After having dogs my entire life, I've come to the conclusion that dogs that always stick close are born not made. Just comparing Maggie (RIP) and Hank...Maggie was a 'runner', if the door was even cracked for 5 seconds, she was gone. Hank keeps us in-sight always and doesn't like be outdoors alone. If a door is left open, he'll just sit there.

This is not to say training won't help, it's just a lot more difficult.
 

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Recall is something that I think needs to be practiced very often. If you are starting at ground zero with your dog, I would recommend using a long line to prevent the bolting as a first step. Your dog gets a huge reward from running free, so preventing that is a high priority.

I like this quick video:
Leerburg On Demand | Can you help me with my recall?

The full recall video is:
Leerburg On Demand | Training the Recall with Michael Ellis

I like the approach of making recall into games that you and your dog can play. Susan Garrett's "Recallers"* is an online course that teaches students a whole series of these games. We took it last year, but I would start with the Michael Ellis video first. If you have an assistant to help work on some restrained recalls, I think you will start to see some progress. :)

* http://www.susangarrett.com/the-five-minute-formula-to-a-brilliant-recall/
 

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I agree with Willow52, had 3 goldens now and 1 setter for a couple weeks and strongly feel they have different personalities and can't all be treated the same - one of my goldens and the setter it was in their nature to go explore!

It sounds like your last golden was a stick close (I've had 2 of those) and I'm not sure it's realistic to expect your current golden to just automatically be the same someday.

Training, leash, long line, keep the dog safe until it's trained and demonstrates 100% and even then you can't be sure. My first dog was a stick close homebody all his life, then when he became a senior citizen, he started running away from home, so I had to keep him on leash outside at all times, even walking to get in the car.

Don't forget to treat your new 21 month old dog as an individual and keep her safe at all times.
 

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Of my three goldens, 2 can be totally trusted off-leash all of the time, and one of them is just a year old.

The third has great recall and is extremely obedient, but his impulse control is pretty much non existent. In other words, he will see something and take off after it like a bat out of hell, but will turn around and come back when I call him. He just can't resist that initial urge, so he's leashed unless we are somewhere where there aren't irresistible distractions. And he's 7 years old. LOL. I call him my Peter Pan, he never wants to grow up.

My oldest proved himself to be trustworthy off-leash almost from the time we adopted him at 4 1/2 months old. He's extremely attached to me and listens really well. He's 9 now.

Our 1 year old also proved himself to be trustworthy pretty much from the day we brought him home at 4 months old. He's a nice mix of personality, a bit like my oldest and a bit like my Peter Pan.
 

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I honestly don't know how some dogs act how they do. A family dog growing up would bolt out of any "opening" in a door or window and was gone.. wouldn't come back without loads of cookies. Joey has been great off leash for as long as I can remember. I don't ever think there was a time where I doubted him.. I can open the front door to look outside and he'll stand with me or just step on the porch and look around.. Good recall is super important. I still give Joey ridiculous amounts of praise when he comes when I call him.

Perhaps just working with her? What about tying her up on a long line while you're all outside and see how she does? How is she in a fenced area?
 

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Training is about creating a habit for the dog. If everytime you say "here", and then make the dog come here, soon there is no option in the dog's mind but to return to you when they hear the command. Sooooo lots of repetition, in lots of different places, with and without treats, with and without praise, and WITHOUT the ability of the dog to ignore the command. That means there are consequences in the house if she does not come when she is called (you go and get her and make her come) and when she is outside you have her on a long line and haul her in to you if she does not come willingly. No coaxing or giving lots of repetitions of the command. Here means here and I expect the dog to respond. Give her tons of praise when she does it right but not obeying is not an option and you need to adopt that attitude. Think High School coach vs first grade teacher.

Everytime she is able to defy you and get away with it you have to increase the number and frequency of the recall exercises.
 
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LOL - I thought I had a perfect recall with my girls. Even a down halfway coming back to me. One snowy afternoon I took my girls out to practice some retrieves. I was not aware of the fact that the deer was in the back yard close to the fence. All of a sudden, Rose breaks her sit/stay and darts to the fence, jumps the fence and take over the herd of deer. Jumps on the side of one deer. I run after her, jump the fence and run up and down the fields screaming after her, NO, HERE, COME. No way was she going to elect to hear me. She was in prey/chase mode and that was it. As all the deer finally dissipated she comes to me with her head down: "Sorry mom, just could not help myself, they looked like so much fun!".
She got to see Darcy have fun with the bumpers from the kennel, then we walked up and down the fence on a leash and every moment she moved her nose towards the other side of the fence she was corrected with a NO.
Indeed it was my fault because I was not aware of my surroundings and by the time I saw the deer she was already locked on them.

ETA - Rose would not know she was not really allowed in that field since we trained up there. As far as she was concerned that was her place to train and the deer was in the way. I have better pics of the field at home.
 

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LOL - I thought I had a perfect recall with my girls. Even a down halfway coming back to me. One snowy afternoon I took my girls out to practice some retrieves. I was not aware of the fact that the deer was in the back yard close to the fence. All of a sudden, Rose breaks her sit/stay and darts to the fence, jumps the fence and take over the herd of deer. Jumps on the side of one deer. I run after her, jump the fence and run up and down the fields screaming after her, NO, HERE, COME. No way was she going to elect to hear me. She was in prey/chase mode and that was it. As all the deer finally dissipated she comes to me with her head down: "Sorry mom, just could not help myself, they looked like so much fun!".
She got to see Darcy have fun with the bumpers from the kennel, then we walked up and down the fence on a leash and every moment she moved her nose towards the other side of the fence she was corrected with a NO.
Indeed it was my fault because I was not aware of my surroundings and by the time I saw the deer she was already locked on them.
Yep. Yesterday we had a similar experience. Josh and I were out walking Maddie off leash. She was near her favorite bunny chasing area. I saw her leap forward and take off. Not a bunny hunting behavior where her head is usually down and low. I called her back and she came, before we could figure out what was going on, she turned running as fast as she could. Then we saw the deer.

Josh was yelling "Come" at the top of his lungs, and I was worrying about the road three hundred feet away. Would she stop if the deer crossed? I didn't know. She had never seen deer before.

She did stop and return before she hit the road, but only after a lot of calling. She was then put on leash. She was in a spot of trouble.
 

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Wyatt Earp
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If you have a dog that "bolts" I would recommend contacting a professional trainer who is experienced with e collars. It could save your dogs life.
 

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Missing You Buzzy
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LOL - I thought I had a perfect recall with my girls. Even a down halfway coming back to me. One snowy afternoon I took my girls out to practice some retrieves. I was not aware of the fact that the deer was in the back yard close to the fence. All of a sudden, Rose breaks her sit/stay and darts to the fence, jumps the fence and take over the herd of deer. Jumps on the side of one deer. I run after her, jump the fence and run up and down the fields screaming after her, NO, HERE, COME. No way was she going to elect to hear me. She was in prey/chase mode and that was it. As all the deer finally dissipated she comes to me with her head down: "Sorry mom, just could not help myself, they looked like so much fun!".
She got to see Darcy have fun with the bumpers from the kennel, then we walked up and down the fence on a leash and every moment she moved her nose towards the other side of the fence she was corrected with a NO.
Indeed it was my fault because I was not aware of my surroundings and by the time I saw the deer she was already locked on them.
Wow! My hubby and I have been discussing with each other whether or not the dogs would actually jump at the side of the deer or look like a wolf with prey?! We have a fenced in yard, mostly in the woods with a whole herd of deer beyond the fence....our new boy, Charlie, is not used to them so will bark and jump and bark at the fence. The deer is about fifteen feet away and just looks at him. He's slowly figuring out that this is not working....the other dogs are looking at him like he's a few screws loose:doh:.
 

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Noreaster
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Okay, I know I'm paranoid and quite neurotic, but I never risk a dog off leash outside of our fenced yard and I live in about as remote an area as it gets. My dogs' recalls are excellent, with the exception of my hound mix who has breed-specific nasal-related deafness and even his recall is decent, but I don't ever count on training trumping instinct if my dogs' lives are at stake.

Besides, we have porcupines the size of toddlers up here, and once you've pulled a few zillion quills out of a dog's face, you never want to see it happen to yours.
 
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Recall is great, training is great but you will never have 100% recall. Their instincts will take over no matter how many recalls you did in your life.
With Rose it could have turned worse. I was actually amazed that she knew to jump on the side and not from the back as the deer could have kicked her with the back legs.
It was also very scary, my husband still laughs at me - he never realized I could run that fast and jump the fence so quick. LOL - not bad for an old gymnast.
What Rose has taught me was to be aware of my surroundings. Catch her before she locks onto something. I have intentionally afterwards took her outside when the deer was out, not only to train her not to run after them but also for her to train me and see when I have to give the command to stay. The deer, squirrels and cows in the field have been an excellent distraction for training for both of us. She still thinks that she can catch the ducks in the yard. It is almost funny and amazing at the same time to see her face after the duck takes off flying and she runs straight back to the fish pond and starts smelling for it up to the point it took off.
 

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Okay, I know I'm paranoid and quite neurotic, but I never risk a dog off leash outside of our fenced yard and I live in about as remote an area as it gets. My dogs' recalls are excellent, with the exception of my hound mix who has breed-specific nasal-related deafness and even his recall is decent, but I don't ever count on training trumping instinct if my dogs' lives are at stake.

Besides, we have porcupines the size of toddlers up here, and once you've pulled a few zillion quills out of a dog's face, you never want to see it happen to yours.
I must agree I was the same way but I learned that there is nothing better for them than running free. Rose already knows when we get close to the cabin; she knows when we get close to the training fields. She absolutely loves it. My husband taught me to play hide and seek with her from very young.
Yup, she was sprayed by a skunk, she chased the squirrels and tried to heard the cows, chased the deer and still thinks that she can fly and catch the ducks and birds.
It is interesting how she only runs after them on what she calls her territory. As soon as the deer was in the woods she stopped.

To the OP, I have learned that it takes courage to let your dog off leash. I did not have it. Maybe, you would feel more comfortable with the e-collar and have a trainer help you condition you dog to it as well as train you when and how to use it.
 

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Murphy's Human, Kam
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I'm sure people would recommend never taking off leash if recall is not 100% perfect or going to e-collar or something. I think personality also comes into it. We're only off leash in fenced area or trails where no other dog is around. One always comes regardless of distractions and then the other day a bird we'd never seen before flew overhead so he ran around trying to fly after it. How do you train for that type of distraction? Very cool to watch him going at full speed after this bird. So perhaps I'm too lenient. The other one, will smell a dog a mile away and would take off after it if given the chance and we have not come across a high value enough treat that he cares about that trumps a new friend to play with. So I have to be extra vigilant with him when off leash. A work in progress.
 
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