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Discussion Starter #1
So I have nearly an 11 month old Golden. We've done a couple training classes with him...he is an AKC puppy star...and we try to be good about training at home. He does good with recalls in our backyard when he isn't super distracted and he did well in class, off leash when I had to call him out of playtime. But he isn't 100% yet especially with distractions. He can be stubborn sometimes and just stare at me and then turn back to chewing on a stick or whatever he is doing that he doesn't want to stop.

Here is my issue...I really want to take him swimming with some other Goldens.

There is a dog resort place nearby...it is 40+ acres with several ponds where dogs can swim and play. There is a barbed wire fence that runs around the entire property, but the pond areas are very open and 40 acres of wooded/farm land is big.

When he's in fenced in areas with other dogs...he just follows them around and wants to play...he absolutely loves other dogs.

I'm just so afraid he'll get distracted for some reason and run off...I don't know why, I've never seen him do this, but without the safety net of a leash or a fence, I'm just paranoid.

Do I take him there on a leash and slowly just introduce him to the environment, water, and other dogs? Then see how he does?

Any tips on improving recalls around other dogs or when they are being stubborn?

He's never been swimming and I really want him to be able to enjoy water
 

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Apollo & Knightley's mum!
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How have you taught your recall? It sounds like he isn't 100% sure it is going to be a happy and rewarding experience and the lure of chewing the stick or playing with the other dogs is just greater.

I would either try one of two things, either take him on a long line to where other dogs are, and lots of other distractions, slowly increasing the level of distraction level in order to set him up for success (every time he doesn't obey a command sets you back obviously, so increase distractions slowly so that he is very likely to obey). I'd use start carrying treats around with you and randomly asking for recalls when he is pretty distracted and treating him, so that he learns it's a good thing. Sometimes ask for a recall so that you can play. Also when you are out somewhere, make sure you don't recall only when you want to leave, that is something that sinks into a dog's mind, in that recalls are negative.

My second suggestion would be to retrain it from scratch if you want a truly 100% recall. It's good to start with two people, both with treats playing the "come game", calling your dog back and forth across the length of a room with lots of enthusiasm and really tasty treats. You can play it by yourself by throwing a treat away from you on a hard floor so the dog chases it, then as soon as he turns to look at you, recall, then when he gets close to you, drop a treat at your feet. A few seconds praise, and then throw a treat. Mix it in with playing with toys to make it fun.

Then take recall to your yard, keep up the enthusiasm, play the come game if you have another person at a further distance, and do some solo sit/stay/come. Then start allowing him to wander and ask for comes. Keep it fun, happy and exciting - more like a play session than obedience. Continue to drop treats at your feet because it will reinforce the proper position and then you can re-mold it back to the sit, or at the least it will bring your dog in close enough to get him on a leash if you wish. Then obviously continue proofing. Start distractions like someone else patting him and loudly talking to him, and calling him away from that, etc. Then try some semi-boring food. Then some pretty interesting food. Your treats are going to have to get better at this stage, and you may even want to give him the food you called him away from. Then try your recall at a dog park at a low traffic time. Like I said before, set it up for success, every time he doesn't come, you have to go back several steps.

I'd probably personally say to use a clicker with all of this, but it isn't strictly necessary - it would just tell your dog more clearly that you want it every time, and it is good at building enthusiasm. However it would work fine without it, so personal choice. Many people also say not to use your recall word until it is 100%, and to use something else until it is well proofed. When they are puppies, trainers often go for the 'puppy puppy puppy!', so I am not sure what you would want if you wanted to do that. The idea is when the dog understands the idea of *always* coming, then you can swap the word over, and he would associate the new word with having never not obeyed it.... if that makes sense. I've written a bit of an essay in reply, hope you don't mind and that some of it was vaguely useful.
 

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Thanks. We bought a long training leash and are going to work on recalls using that with lots of distractions and in new environments.

He's great when we practice recall in a training excercise. For example, in the backyard I have him sit and stay....I can walk all the way across our yard and say "come" and he comes running with a smile. I can do the same thing in our house for at least 5 minutes. He could do this in class as well.

He gets way over stimulated sometimes and that's usually when we have the issues. For example, he wants to go out to potty and he notices something or a sound and starts barking at the fence and I say "come" to try to get him to come back inside the house or come to me if I'm standing out there- then he doesn't want to listen.

I know I just have to keep practicing like all of our training and practice in new and distracting environments.
 

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Apollo & Knightley's mum!
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Yeah, when a dog is over threshold when he is barking at the fence like you say he does, you shouldn't even try a recall. This is partly because you say he doesn't usually respond when he is like that and he will learn that responding to a "come" is optional, but also because you shouldn't ever try working a dog which is over threshold. Once you are pretty sure you will obey, it's of course fine, but until then, use a different word to try to attract his attention, but not a proper recall.

I'd also try manufacturing some distractions at home to call him away from, perhaps before trying more recall training in public. Like I said, calling him away from people loudly lavishing attention on him, calling him away from amazing food etc. The problem a lot of people have with recall training is doing it at home with no distractions then taking it into the real world with heaps of distractions.

It's too bad more people didn't give their advice but I hope your dog has many off leash play sessions to come, that dog resort sounds amazing... I wish we had places like that around here.
 

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I own a private dog park with a pond and 17 acres and people are often afraid that their dogs will run off but it really doesn't happen especially with Goldens. They will play with each other and go swimming, but they like to hang out with their humans (or other dog's humans) best of all. Some breeds (like sent hounds) can be the devil to get back, but really, 90% to 95% of dogs and 99% of retrievers (we did have an intact male Lab who preferred to spend his time humping other dogs to being with humans) are with the humans.

I would take him, let him off leash and have fun!
 
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