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Our 4th golden is handsome, smart, silly, and definitely has a mind of his own. Since young puppyhood he’s been very good with the basics like sit, stay, come, wait, etc. He would even respond enthusiastically to “come” – indoors. But outdoors, for the longest time he was 100% untrustworthy off leash, and would rather dash off than come when called. I finally achieved success with the outdoor recall, and I thought I’d share what worked for me, as it might help others with equally willful beasts.

Two years ago we moved to a house with a very large field behind it, surrounded by woods, but with no fence. I bought a 50-foot Leash Boss leash (on a tip from someone on this forum – thank you!) and a soft harness, so my boy could romp a bit in the field but not get away. Occasionally something in the woods would get his attention, and he’d bolt. With all that speed and momentum, I’d have to let go of the Leash Boss or lose an arm. The beauty of the Leash Boss was that as soon as my guy got to the woods, he would get the long leash caught up on trees and branches, so could never get very far.

With the long leash, we practiced recall on and off. He wasn’t very interested, even for special treats. It would work two or three times, but then he would ignore me. Recently I started using chunks of hot dogs as the reward, following lavish over-the-top praise when he comes when called. For whatever reason (maybe just because he’s almost out of puppyhood after 5 years?) this suddenly has been working. He finally seems to think it’s great fun to run to me at top speed, sit, and get huge praise and a tasty treat. I can drop the Leash Boss and walk an additional 200 feet or so, and he'll wait patiently for me to call him, then come running. I can drop the leash, walk away for a while, and even if he’s sniffing something interesting, he’ll come. On the occasion that he hesitates about coming, I can give the leash a pull to remind him. I am gradually reducing giving out hot dog chunks, to give him only praise when he comes, so hopefully we can eliminate the treats altogether.

It’s been such a joy to be able to throw sticks and balls for him, and let him chase, romp, and sniff around our field to his heart’s content. I keep the Leash Boss on him just the same. He happily drags it around (like a ball and chain! though not that heavy) and it gives me peace of mind. We have deer and wild turkeys around, and the call of the wild is very tempting for my boy. I’m looking forward to the day when we can walk in the woods and trails with no leash at all. I hope we get to that phase.

In the meantime, I wanted to share this experience and hope that some of these tips may work for others with like-minded goldens. I’d also be happy to hear suggestions for improving my methods and making further progress. Thanks for reading this long post, and good luck, y’all!
 

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Puddles
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Congratulations? I'm happy you can now feel comfortable your dog will return.

May I make a couple of suggestions in your recall training? There is always room for improvement :) Start with a 6' leash and teach recall, basics. Always have a leash on so he never gets the choice to not come. From the dogs POV every time he gets the choice to not return to you ... well you are rewarding / reinforcing him for making the choice not to come. Why listen to you when he doesn't have to... you must be consistent for him to learn coming when called is not an option. His attention should always be on you. Work on leash recalls at Lowes, parking lots, in front of the hardware store, outside dog parks, anywhere people are coming and going. Practice in lots of places with distractions.
or maybe
Maybe these will help.

If you are content with where you are I'm happy for you. I've just seen so many dogs come into the clinic hurt, poisoned because they ate something they shouldn't or accidently hung themselves. Just me but recall is one of those critical and necessary things to achieve.
 

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So there is still hope for me! Great advice here. Buddy has a weak recall. Sometimes he comes bounding back enthusiastically other times he seems to have forgotton his own name. Will definately try out the advice here. I have tended to get lazy in recent times. He is an all round sociable 5 year old polite and well behaved dog and ongoing training has taken a bit of a backseat. This reminds me of an expression we have here, I don't know if you have it in US "you can't teach an old dog new tricks"! But in fact you can. Have a good day
 

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Thank you Puddles for your advice. We're not content where we are - we will keep working and reinforcing and adding new challenges and distractions. But I feel like we suddenly had a breakthrough, with my guy joyfully and enthusiastically bounding towards me when he's called, either from 6 feet or 200 feet. Buddy in France sounds a lot like my dog, and yes, there is hope!
 

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If you have recently had a breakthrough, perhaps it is too early to start reducing treats.

I am very proud of my dog's recall. I put a lot of work into his recall and it's pretty solid (in his 5 years, we've only ever had one incident). But I want to keep it that way so I'm constantly treating his recall like it's a new skill. That means we're still playing recall games to keep him sharp and I'm treating him and throwing him a massive party for EVERY recall. I started recall work with him as a puppy, so it is pretty much second nature for him. But still, he really likes chasing deer and eating bird/horse/deer poop, and it would be so easy for him to blow me off and indulge himself. So personally, I would not mind carrying treats around for the rest of my dog's life if it meant that I could ensure a quick and speedy recall regardless of distance or distraction.
 

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Talking about obedience do any of your dogs do this….? Buddy knows sit, down, stay, wait perfectly 100 percent,food or no food. But if he does see a bit of food involved his "down" command involves his back end "hovering" rather than really going down so impatient he is to get his treat! . I know I should correct it but it is so cute !!!
 

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Puddles
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Talking about obedience do any of your dogs do this….? Buddy knows sit, down, stay, wait perfectly 100 percent,food or no food. But if he does see a bit of food involved his "down" command involves his back end "hovering" rather than really going down so impatient he is to get his treat! . I know I should correct it but it is so cute !!!
LOL I always start with down... see if this helps. kikopup teaching down - Google Search
 

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Talking about obedience do any of your dogs do this….? Buddy knows sit, down, stay, wait perfectly 100 percent,food or no food. But if he does see a bit of food involved his "down" command involves his back end "hovering" rather than really going down so impatient he is to get his treat! . I know I should correct it but it is so cute !!!
he must be really excited!!!
 
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