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I have an 18month old collie. When I walk him off lead he is fine until he sees another person or dog and gets distracted and runs up to them.  To people he will jump up wanting to be smoothed, to other dogs will just sniff and run around.

However if there is no-one around and he wanders off and I call him, he will come back straight away. I have tried enticing him with treats but will not take anything when walking. I thought this might be that he doesnt like the treats but will eat them at home.

Any ideas? 



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  • 2 weeks later...

The first rule about training a recall is that you never, ever let a dog off leash outside of a fence until the recall is solid and proofed.

The fact that you are letting him off leash where he can ignore you is reinforcing to him that he can choose when he obeys you and when he does not. If you have been doing this for some time, it will take a long time to retrain him. Immediately stop letting him off leash and start from the beginning to train the recall in a small fenced in area like a yard. Every time that he gets to ignore your call it undoes the work you have put into training him. If you want a solid recall, don't let him off leash for several months and work diligently every day on the recall. Remember to make it always to his advantage to come to you. when he comes he gets treats, a toy, praise, and then is whenever possible allowed to go back to what he was doing. 

The reason he is not taking treats while walking is that there are too many other enticing things. When you walk him (on a leash!) take very high value treats with you and practice the recall from the end of a leash. Use something he doesn't normally get that he will really like and reserve those treats for recall work. Be patient and don't rush. 

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 Yup. For high value treats you can use shreds of real meat, bits of cheese, (pre-grated makes it really easy, just don't forget it's in your pocket and put it through the wash. Not good.) or liverwurst. Make sure it's something your dog thinks is high value. My current dog LOVES apples, so I might mix in some pieces of apple into his regular training treats. 

Work on the recall everywhere. Different rooms in your home, different spots in your yard. Take different routes when you walk him. Take the 'mixing up' of locations slowly, you don't want to throw everything at him all at once. Once he's got the concept at home & close to home, then take it on the road.

Since this is 4th of July, if he's sensitive to fireworks I'd give it a pass for a day or 2. PLEASE do not let him off leash especially today & tomorrow. I lost a dog temporarily over a 4th of July weekend years ago. Luckily for her and me, a policeman came across her and took her to the shelter. I was very grateful that she'd been someplace safe.

Good luck, let us know how you get on.

Ruth & Gibbs

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We've always let our dogs off leash from a young age, but it means you have to be vigilant. We would call the dog back before she saw the person or dog, put her on a leash and release her again when we had passed them. 

When this can't be done, either because of the environment or because you aren't quick enough (or you don't want to) I'd say keep the dog on a leash like the others said and practice that way.

A dog park is probably not the place to try my method. Too many people and dogs to see. We were lucky to live in a somewhat remote area where we mostly hike in the woods. We would still meet people on the trail, but it was an easy environment to see/hear people coming. We would hide a lot behind trees as well, to teach the dog to keep an eye on us.

I still do this when we cross paths with people without dogs (or with dogs on a leash) in case people are afraid of dogs. She knows the drill and sometimes comes and walks next to me before I ask.

Practice makes perfect. 

I just wanted to show my alternative in case it suits you. However, the method described above will also definitely work and is more foolproof.

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Welcome to the Boards, @medavidcook.

6 hours ago, D'Elle said:

The first rule about training a recall is that you never, ever let a dog off leash outside of a fence until the recall is solid and proofed.

The fact that you are letting him off leash where he can ignore you is reinforcing to him that he can choose when he obeys you and when he does not....

Can't stress this enough. If he's not reliable recalling then you've probably "poisoned the cue" and should stop using whatever your recall word and begin over with a new word.

As for treats, I don't understand why you wouldn't take treats along with you on walks to use for reinforcement. Avail yourself of any tools at your disposal that'll make things easier, quicker and will cement the response from your dog. You don't have to use them forever, but it will make things much better for you during the training stage.

If your dog responds positively to treats then you should be using whatever tools you have available to provide rewards and make returning to you a more positive experience that whatever else he would be doing if he blows you off. If he's not taking treats, then he's either over threshold and/or the treats aren't high value enough. As others have said, you may need to provide higher value treats. In addition to the suggestions above, both spray cheese in a can or one of those refillable camping tubes (https://www.amazon.com/Coghlans-Squeeze-Tubes/dp/B001V9IOKC/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_468_img_0?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=CHMZ8C9E21890NJNEWQ5) filled with thinned liverwurst or ricotta cheese are doggy crack.

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When your dog doesn't come when called go get him and take him back to the place that you called him from, use your command word "COME" put him in a sit then praise him quietly.  The ONLY thing you say to him on the way back is a stern sounding "COME".  He will soon learn that not coming is not an option.  

But... like everyone else has said, don't take him off leash unless he has a solid recall in the first place.  I use a long line, about 20 feet, that way he feels he has freedom but all you have to do is step on the end of the rope and reel him in if he's not listening.  No option to disobey the command this way and you don't have to be stern with him.

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