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Hi all,

In spite of my best efforts our 10 month old Retriever Bernard is still not reliable off-lead. I have spent months with a long lead practicing recall which he's gotten very good at BUT only so long as there aren't other dogs about. He's so big and has so much energy now that I feel bad if I don't let him off lead in the park, but once I give him the command to essentially run free the first thing he does EVERY time is make a beeline for the nearest dog.

If other dogs and/or small children are about he seems to go deaf to my calls. He'll quite happily range across the entire park without so much as a look back to me, and always has. I have been close to tears numerous times now as I am desperate to let him have a long run about and play with other dogs on a regular basis.

Everyone says they should not be let off lead until a strong recall has been developed, but he's only reliable if other dogs aren't present. I feel a failure as he's nearly a year old now :(

Many thanks for reading.
 

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Tracer, Rumor & Cady
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please, please dont feel like a failure......He is a loved and cared for dog....
A dog that has food and fresh water in his dish every day and a place in a loving home to sleep safely everynight. Im guessing he has toys and gets his fair share of ear scritches and belly rubs too!

I have a 12 year old that, to this day, occasionally has her own off-leash agenda and two others that love to recall.
 
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Dr. Rainheart
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It sounds like you need to practice on a long line with these distractions you are talking about. A solid recall isn't easy to obtain, so don't feel like a failure. Beamer doesn't have one yet either and he is almost 10 months.
 

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Do you have a fenced dog park that you could go to? If not, invite doggy friends over for a play date in your fenced back yard (or someone else's back yard).
 

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Kye & Coops Mom
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We are working on this with our 8 mo old female too. 100 ft lead and lots, lots (did I say lots?) of mixed very high quailty treats.

Best solution for us since last week:
I am driving her to an open pasture I found that is way off the highway and no people/dogs. She just can't get her brain cells working when others are about. Out there I can run/play off leash and recall is much better cause no others around. Hoping as she ages and we continue to work she will become more reliable. Like you I just can't let her off leash in town at the park. Too many fighting dogs there and she thinks every dog and person is supposeto LOVE her. So we have found another place where she can be successful in her training instead of hearing me shouting her name and telling her "No". She needs sucess to Want to come back to me and get her treat. I also feed her when we get home, so she is hungry and more willing to come back for a treat. Small steps to hopefully a better solution. We are a huge work in progress!
 
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We are working on this with our 8 mo old female too. 100 ft lead and lots, lots (did I say lots?) of mixed very high quailty treats.

Best solution for us since last week:
I am driving her to an open pasture I found that is way off the highway and no people/dogs. She just can't get her brain cells working when others are about. Out there I can run/play off leash and recall is much better cause no others around. Hoping as she ages and we continue to work she will become more reliable. Like you I just can't let her off leash in town at the park. Too many fighting dogs there and she thinks every dog and person is supposeto LOVE her. So we have found another place where she can be successful in her training instead of hearing me shouting her name and telling her "No". She needs sucess to Want to come back to me and get her treat. I also feed her when we get home, so she is hungry and more willing to come back for a treat. Small steps to hopefully a better solution. We are a huge work in progress!
This sounds like an excellent plan!
 

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I've seen all good people
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You should NOT feel like a failure. Reliable recall is one of the hardest things to teach. Plus Bernard is still a puppy! I didn't fully trust Merlin off leash until he was about 2 1/2. Shoot, at 10 months old we were still dealing with on leash issues of pulling and biting (at the leash) and some other naughty puppy behavior too. :D

We used to go to a fully fenced in football field at a local high school to play and work on recall. It was great because no one was there, but Merlin was still a brat sometimes. He would search for trash and try to play keep away. ;)

Don't beat yourself up. It'll happen eventually. It sounds like you are doing all the right things!

Hi all,

In spite of my best efforts our 10 month old Retriever Bernard is still not reliable off-lead. I have spent months with a long lead practicing recall which he's gotten very good at BUT only so long as there aren't other dogs about. He's so big and has so much energy now that I feel bad if I don't let him off lead in the park, but once I give him the command to essentially run free the first thing he does EVERY time is make a beeline for the nearest dog.

If other dogs and/or small children are about he seems to go deaf to my calls. He'll quite happily range across the entire park without so much as a look back to me, and always has. I have been close to tears numerous times now as I am desperate to let him have a long run about and play with other dogs on a regular basis.

Everyone says they should not be let off lead until a strong recall has been developed, but he's only reliable if other dogs aren't present. I feel a failure as he's nearly a year old now :(

Many thanks for reading.
 

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In spite of my best efforts our 10 month old Retriever Bernard is still not reliable off-lead. I have spent months with a long lead practicing recall which he's gotten very good at BUT only so long as there aren't other dogs about.
He needs to reliable with the long lead with distractions (including other dogs) before you let him off of it. Have you added in distractions? Don't expect to call him off of a dog or really tempting things if you haven't practiced it first.
 

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I so hear your frustration. My boy had the very same problem - the minute he saw another dog he was off running.

Check out the video on this site. I learned to read my boy's calming signals (looking away, licking his lips, shaking his head, sitting, etc) and the second he did one I would say "OK, lets go" and lead him away. It took less than a week of doing this every time we saw a dog and now, when he is off leash I give him the command and he comes to me every time event though I know he is dyng to approach the other dog (Knocking on wood it continues).
BAT « Ahimsa Dog Blog
This link is for dogs who can be dog aggressive but I believe this will work for anyone who wants to improve their dogs recall.
 

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Just keep working on it Some dog take longer in this area and their owners are not failures in fact I applaud them for working so hard to get the re-call down and not giving up.

I would work on re-call in many different places. I find parking lots a good place as there is so much going on and things change so fast in the parking lot. Another good place is to work on re-call while going past parks where children are playing. If your dog is like mine and doesnt care much for treats try having a toy. BaWaaJige loves his dokken duck. I let him have long line freedom but when I call him back if he doesnt respond " RIGHT NOW" I reel him in and then praise to beat 60 when he is at my side and then we do a few drills like holding, heeling and I toss his dummy for him. Then I send him off again. My boy is 8mos and his recall is about 90%.
 

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Thank you all for your responses. I think it's a relief as much as anything to know that others go through the same things. It gets a bit upsetting when all you seem to see are dogs who are reliable at the one thing you're working on training yours on at that time.

C's Mom, that link you shared looks really interesting and I'll definitely put some time into trying the same thing. Lord knows we see enough distractions on walks to make it worthwhile! May I ask what reward there is to the dog to be led away from the thing they're fixating on?
 

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Kate
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Every dog is different. Especially goldens.

My current golden was border trained and reliable off lead by the time he was 5 months old. But that was him.

Our previous goldens were upwards of 2 or 3 years before they were reliable. My Danny got his CD (obedience title) when he was 4. I did not trust him off leash until he was 5 or 6. He loved to run.

Some dogs just take a lot longer to earn their offleash privileges. Keep at the training and don't feel discouraged.
 

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C's Mom, that link you shared looks really interesting and I'll definitely put some time into trying the same thing. Lord knows we see enough distractions on walks to make it worthwhile! May I ask what reward there is to the dog to be led away from the thing they're fixating on?
When we were doing this while leashed I gave him lots of verbal praise and when off leash and he comes to me I give him lots of verbal praise too. My boy won't work for treats (too nervous to eat) but perhaps yours will? It teaches them to become less fixated on the distraction and more interested in what you are asking them to do. For fear based or dog aggressive dogs (my boy has this problem) it quickly relieves their stress. I thought my boy was running to other dogs because he loved them so - turns out I was wrong.
 

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When we were doing this while leashed I gave him lots of verbal praise and when off leash and he comes to me I give him lots of verbal praise too. My boy won't work for treats (too nervous to eat) but perhaps yours will? It teaches them to become less fixated on the distraction and more interested in what you are asking them to do. For fear based or dog aggressive dogs (my boy has this problem) it quickly relieves their stress. I thought my boy was running to other dogs because he loved them so - turns out I was wrong.

Just so I can clarify the procedure here, if my dog stops and stares at another dog across the street (very common) I should wait with him until he exhibits a sign of disinterest (such as looking away) and then issue a command to continue walking?
 

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I find it best to get their focus back on you right away. I wont let my dog fixate on another dog.

I work on the "focus game all the time with my dogs. As soon as my dog looks at me I praise them with Vendetta she would take a treat sometimes other wise it was her ball. As soon as she looked at me and not the dog I would praise and toss her ball. I would let her hold it for a bit and then I would take it away again. With baWaaJige a pat on the head is all he needs to know he is doing good. He hates treats. :(
 

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I agree don't let him stop and fixate on another dog. I would just keep walking personally. If you stop with him, you are letting him take charge of where you are going ;)
 

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Buzz has an excellent recall when we are away from home (walking in the woods). When called, he immediately spins and runs to me. People remark how well trained he is. At home, I have to leash him. He goes from one home to the next, he will not come. It is like I have two different dogs. But I love both Buzzes.
 

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Just so I can clarify the procedure here, if my dog stops and stares at another dog across the street (very common) I should wait with him until he exhibits a sign of disinterest (such as looking away) and then issue a command to continue walking?
Is he reactive when he sees dogs across the street - barks, lunges? If not you're cool and just do what you do normally. If he does then its important for you to relax when this is happening so that he doesn't pick up any messages from you that seeing other dogs is bad. Voice light and body fluid. If you're dog is good with other dogs then I would practice this at the dog park.
 

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Kodasmomma
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My Koda is 8 1/2 months and we are still working on re call every day. she has gotten much better just by working with the long lead or taking her to the fenced in baseball field. She used to never listen and now when we are at the field she listens every time. We organized a play date with another dog at the baseball field to work on recalls with dogs around and she did so good! Just gotta keep working with them..i by no means am anywhere near letting her off leash where she can just run, she is always on long lead or in fenced in area but there is always progress being made if you continue to work with them. Treats work for her, but we use special treats for her re call so she is extra excited to come back to us.

Good luck and don't worry you aren't a failure, if you are, there are so many of us in tehre with you! :)
 

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Don't cry, given his age and sounds he's a social butterfly, that sounds like a very tall order.
I would keep him on lead and keep practicing like Goldensail said, so you maintain control and he never gets away with it to avoid reinforcing it into a bad habit.
Keep up the good work.
 
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