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Rebecca's post on "Walking Down the Dog"

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While browsing old messages, I found a few references to the subject. From what I was able to gather from these references, this seems like something I might be able to use with my dog (a method of teaching a reliable recall).


I did a search using "walk down the dog" as the search criteria. Although I came up with several hits, none of them were Rebecca's post. Apparently, in this post, she tells just how to do this.


If anyone could point me to her post, I would be most grateful. Odie would too, although it might take him a little longer to realize it. :rolleyes:

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Hmm. I don't remember what the reference was to help you find the original post.


My late friend and trainer taught me this method, but many people use some form of this. All you do is start in a safe area and call your dog ONCE. If Odie ignores you, quietly (being very quiet is the key - alpha dogs do not make noise) walk over to him, take him by the collar, and walk him back to where you gave the command.


Once there, gently pet and praise him while repeating your command. I position my pups' heads between my knees looking up at me but there are reasons I want them to come EXACTLY THERE when I call them. It does help them have a specific notion of what you mean, though. That'll do doesn't mean over there or looking around or turning around or going past me, it means RIGHT THERE.


Anyway, then let him go amuse himself for a second. Repeat your command. Give him a chance to think about coming back (Don't be tempted to praise him for turning your way or coming back halfway - you have to go for the whole enchilada with this approach). Obviously you will throw a party if he comes back properly - and the first few times you work on this make sure you can reward him either with a game or treats or just going back to what he wants to do.


If he doesn't obey - or if he comes part way and breaks off - repeat the walking down and bringing back.


It's important to repeat this until you have success. It's equally important to repeat the success (ie, don't reward your dog's finally "Giving" to you by immediately ending his free time).


Don't do this if you don't have lots of time! Don't do this in an area where your dog can elude you. And until your dog is pretty sure that you will come get him EVERY time he decides to blow you off - and CAN get him - don't give him a chance to blow you off somewhere else where you have to give him a pass. You CAN cheat a bit by asking for the recall while your dog is still close to you and then gradually asking for the recall at greater distances and with greater distractions.


I can now testify that this does work (like I really had a doubt). Ann and Hac both escaped into the big field at different times this week to do a little freelancing (it's been a little hectic). I wasn't stupid enough to ask for a recall until they had worked a bit, but they both came happily when asked. Of course they got the ultimate reward - more sheep time! Good dog! :rolleyes:


The key is 100% consistency. The dog just has to learn that he doesn't get to do what he wants until he's listened to you. And you have to remember that you'll get relapses until the dog is fully mature. Ann's a little bonehead and I still somtimes have to remind her in new places.


Zhi is going through round two of her training - she's hit adolescence with a vengence (Cresteds are apparently little hormone machines - snip snip in two weeks and counting, whew!). I have to be VERY gentle with her doing this - I actually guide her with two hands so I don't put any pressure at all on her neck. It's not about making the dog uncomfortable on the way back - it's saying, "That was the wrong choice - this is right - isn't it nice? - now you get to try again."

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Thank you Rebecca. I found a post where someone thanked you (I assume you) for the post but I never could find your actual post. I pretty much had figured out how to do it from what I was reading but you certainly clarified some points.


We have had Odie about 2 weeks now. He is about 1 1/2 years old, neutered. Got him from the shelter.


We start his OB classes on Saturday but I have been working with him. He will already sit and down very reliably if he is on leash. Only if he wants to on a long line but hey, we are making progress. :rolleyes: I probably shouldn't be working OB with him on a long line just yet but I remain hopeful that the trainer will be able to train me and break me of any bad habits that I have.


His recall is very reliable on lead but of course, he knows he is going to get a collar pop if he doesn't. His recall is far less reliable on a long line but I have only been working with him on a long line for a couple of days. I usually have to reel him in.


On a long line, if my wife is outside and I recall him, he will go to her, or at least, he will try to. He will always sit or down stay, even if he can see her, but when I call him it's like he thinks it means for him to go to whoever he wants. And he won't even go to her if there is horse poop for him to sniff. :D


I know we have work to do and he is obviously smart and willing to please. I am very anxious to get started with the professional trainer. This will be the 4th dog I have OB trained under the guidance of a trainer but I am sure there is much I have either forgotten or never learned.


Frankly, I have never had a dog with a reliable recall. That hasn't mattered much in the past but now I live on a farm with fencing to contain horses, but not a dog. I want the dog to be able to be loose outside WITH US, but we have to teach him to come EVERY TIME, not just when we are the most interesting thing in his life at that moment.


Again, thank you very much for your response.

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Something else that might help is either having him drag a line outside. Don't ever pop that thing, by the way - think of it as a fence he happens to carry around - use it only passively to restrict his movement until he figures out the RIGHT thing to do. Popping draws attention to it as you've noticed, so that he knows he can get away with anything when it's gone.


Anyway. Simply keep him within a certain distance on the line for, oh, maybe six months. If you notice that he's pretty much not needing the line to come with you when you move on to doing something else, just ditch the line - he's committed to staying with you.


What he needs is really less of formal training and more of an attitude adjustment - getting used to keeping half an eye peeled out for you. Letting him run off, recalling and reinforcing it, demonstrates that you trust him and are offering him freedom as long as he plays by your rules. Border collies particularly like operating under that kind of system.


I might add to the above, make sure when you walk him down, that you are not doing the gorilla walk. I have a bad habit of doing this - crouching down while walking like I'm willing the dog to stop - it has the opposite effect. You want to be really casual. Smokers are really good at this. So are dressage athletes - they have great posture. :rolleyes:

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Once again, thanks, Rebecca. I have had him outside dragging his leash around. Trying a longer line sounds like a good idea and I will try it.


For the most part, he does seem to want to hang around with us when he is outside. He goes around sniffing stuff, of course, but he will generally stick close to us.


The problem came up the other night where I got the idea he might run off. I bought him some tennis balls. I rolled one around in the house for him but he really didn't seem interested in it. He would pick it up and chew on it, but he showed no interest in a retrieval game.


Well, the other night after we got home from work, he seemed unusually energetic. I decided to get the ball and see how he reacted to it outside. He was dragging his leash around.


Now like I said, Odie showed no interest at all in the ball in the house, but outside was a different story. He went nuts. Like throwing a ball was the greatest thing in the world and God had invented it just for him to enjoy. It was really cool, frankly. He would chase the ball down and start back toward me. He might drop the ball a time or two, smack it with his foot or something and chase it down. Then he would bring it reasonably close to me, drop it and wait for me to throw it again. We repeated this several times and he showed no signs of wanting to run off. He just wanted to keep playing.


Well I, being impressed with his show, had the wife come outside and watch us. Maybe Odie was just getting tired of playing at this point and her coming outside and him deciding not to behave anymore was just coincidence, but something, for some reason, changed.


I threw Odie the ball. He ran to get it, just as he had been doing, but instead of goofily but steadily working his way back toward me with his ball, he decided to drop it, go in the barn and sniff horse poop or something.


We called him. He did come out of the barn and stood there, cocking his head and perking his enormous ears, but he had no intention of coming to us. Instead of chasing him down, which I was not stupid enough to try, the wife and I opened the door like we were going in the house. He then came to us on a dead run. His desire to be with us seemed to trump his desire to go exploring, but what about next time?


I do like your idea of letting him drag a line around for a few months or whatever. I am willing to be patient but, even though we live in the country, I really don't want to take an undue chance that he will end up wandering off and maybe getting into trouble.


The long line I have is a skinny nylon rope, 50 feet long. Would you say this line would be okay for him to drag around when he is outside with us doing chores or whatever or should I come up with something else?

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The other part of a reliable recall is that coming back to you should always be the best thing the dog can imagine--or at least often enough that the dog will always come to you to find out if it is, this time. "Walk Down" should be just part of getting there.


It takes time, consistency and patience to develop a truly reliable recall.


Good luck,

Deanna in OR

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It's nice to see someone who is willing to put time and effort into their dog!


Rebecca and Deanna are both right. Things to keep in mind for a solid recall:


1. Do not give the dog the opportunity to blow you off.


2. Give the command once, only once, never twice, just once.


3. Follow up on the command if the dog tries to blow you off. That's where #1 is important. You don't want to give the dog that opportunity.


4. The recall command should always be positive and NEVER EVER negative. Don't call the dog to you when he's in trouble, or when you're going to do something to him that he doesn't like (nail clipping, bath, etc.)


5. The recall should always be a positive thing for him.


And yes, time, patience and CONSISTENCY are the key.


I wouldn't have him drag a long line until his recall with you holding the line is 100% solid. Don't move up to the next level until he's 100% at the current level.


Good for you and the wife to open the door like you were going inside. You can also run away from the dog and this will entice him to follow you. But that's a management procedure for when his recall has failed. Try not to get to that point. If you do, it's probably because you're moving too fast for him.


When you get to the point where he's ready to drag a line then you and your wife can each have treats and stand a distance apart from eachother and call Odie to you. It's a fun and reinforcing "game" for a dog. You can gradually get to a point where you are a hundred yards apart and have him run back and forth between you (and tire him out in the process!).


Be sure to end any recall session (or any training session) BEFORE you lose his interest.

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I use clothesline for the long line. If that's about the weight of the line you are using, then that's what you need.


It does sound like he's still adjusting, which I'd expect since you haven't had him long.


Good luck - sounds like you are having fun most of the time anyway!

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