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Is this normal off lead behaviour?

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Jason25, Mar 12, 2019.


  1. Jason25

    Jason25 PetForums Member

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    Here's what's happening, basically yesterday we had our first off lead for a while along the canal, and she was very good, would come back when called, stay if told so until I caught up. But at some parts of the canal there's footpaths that split off onto another route, and as we go past these she sprints off down them exploring instead of sticking to the path we are on. She comes running back when called but it looks like she's doing this on impulse, like for a few seconds she doesn't listen to me saying stay, instead she continues to run down the path, but when I get to the path and call her back she comes running back to me.

    Is there a way to stop this? Luckily there's no roads near us so am not too worried but I wouldn't like her doing this if we were close to roads as you can understand.
     
  2. Linda Weasel

    Linda Weasel PetForums Senior

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    Normal behaviour; shes just following an interesting scent or simply wants to know what’s there.

    You could practise calling her before she gets to the paths and having her walk with you past them. Not every one, just randomly, so you have something in place to use as needed.
     
  3. Chatcat

    Chatcat PetForums Senior

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    I had this with Clo. I have taught her a 'this way' command, which I say just before I get to the junction. I have no idea how she learnt this, as I think it must be quite a lot of brain cells being used, but it works every time. I guess I just used to say it, while I was walking down the path first, and she followed, then it progressed to her being in front and I say it and she crosses over to the path I want her on. Anyway, it might help you.

    Edited to say: to her a 'stay' command will mean stop, which is boring for her. But a 'this way' allows her to keep moving at her pace.
     
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  4. niamh123

    niamh123 PetForums Senior

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    My 3 are the same it's as if they think they must be missing something,but once called they come straight back:)
     
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  5. Jason25

    Jason25 PetForums Member

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    Thanks I'll try calling her back before the paths, hopefully introduce a with me or this way command in the future.

    This is my first dog that's been able to go off lead, my old jrt was a nightmare with her prey drive and selective hearing so off lead walks were a no no unless completely fenced in. I kind of feel like it's made me a bit paranoid about letting my current dog off the lead, I suppose I need to trust her a bit more lol. Anyway thanks for the advice :)
     
  6. Jason25

    Jason25 PetForums Member

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    Well she was a right muppet yesterday, I'm not sure if it was the weather sending her a bit bandy but it was even worse. As soon as we got near these paths she would look at me then sprint down them having zoomies, not listening to me one bit. She ran down like a little track and straight into boggy smelly water yesterday. Not impressed lol.

    I'm not really sure what to do about this..:(
     
  7. Cleo38

    Cleo38 PetForums VIP

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    I wouldn't let this continue if it were me as it will become an established behaviour (if it isn't already one). In some ways it's easier as you know how your dog will react when you get to these points so you can act preventatively. It might be that she comes back after a few seconds but it might be that these few seconds start extending. How would she be if some else were along the path with a dog? Would she run over to them?

    I was similar in that my other dog was a nightmare for chasing wildlife & I had to work so hard to stop this that I was overly cautious with my younger dog …. but it's worked (so far!!!) he has no interest in running off & always stays close by.

    Personally I would get a harness & a long line so you are able to control the behaviour & think about what you can do when you get to these sections. Maybe play a game with a toy, maybe use food in a game or throwing it getting her to search for it. Get her focussed on you initially then start …. practise at home first before so you can get her to understand the game & have some fun.

    You can then transfer this when out but make sure you start before she gets to these places that trigger her excitement. Initially I would be getting her to almost ignore the environment by getting her to focus on you then you can build on this. But you have to be consistent with this, no more letting her practise the behaviour as the more she does it the more it will become habit. It doesn't mean her fun will end but it will just be more controlled until you feel confident she will listen to you.


    Once you've gained more control then you can start adding a cue so she knows she can go off …. depends on what you want
     
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  8. Jason25

    Jason25 PetForums Member

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    Exactly what I was worrying about, her zoomies were more intense/longer than last time, like more confident and I'm worried she'll go off further and not listen.

    She's not so fussed about people but if she seen a dog and it was close she would engage, if it was far away she'd most likely ignore, but this isn't for sure and has done a good 100 yard run across the park to see a group of dogs playing lol.

    I've got a long line but hate using it, it usually gets dragged through dog poo lol, would a retractable lead be the same or would there be too much tension between me and the dog?

    I was wondering if I should try and train her to come back using a whistle? She's very reactive to that sound, if someone whistles she hears it every time, ears prick up and looking around to see who did it lol.

    She's very good with training at home and she's focused on me until the session ends, but as soon as we are outside the property, pretty much all focus is gone, I think less dog walking and more going to a park and doing traning while on a long lead maybe?

    Thanks for your reply I won't be letting her off the lead again until this has been ironed out :D
     
  9. Linda Weasel

    Linda Weasel PetForums Senior

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    Sometimes ‘zoomies’ is a displacement activity from a dog who doesn’t know how to behave under certain circumstances. Not always, sometimes its just energy and mad five minutes, like the evening zoomies that some dogs get.

    Training, thinking ahead and having confidence in your dog’s recall should sort this out.
     
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  10. Cleo38

    Cleo38 PetForums VIP

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    Hahaha, same here! l can't bear long lines but they do serve their purpose in that your dog cannot practise the undesirable behaviour.

    In some ways what you have is the ideal; a dog that is focussed when required but one that can switch off as such. When I got my younger GSD I was so worried that he would be chaser of wild life that I created so much focus on me that he wasn't able to switch off on our walks. Some people joked that I was lucky & I was but he needed some time off just to do his own thing & sniff about so I had to teach him. We now have cues for when we are going to start training & when the session has ended. It all sounds very formal & stuffy but it's really not, it's just giving my dog information & means he knows what's happening. Having a clear end also means he doesn't pester me for doing any more as he used to do as although I knew I was done with the session he didn't.

    A whistle is a good idea if it's something she's obviously responsive to. Make sure you 'load' it correctly (pairing it with lots of praise & a food/toy reward for coming back to you.) Acme ones are good & I think they have a website where you can listen to their range of whistles with different pitches .... so have a listen to them & see which one she seems to be most interested in.

    Also I see things like this as ongoing training, you are never 'done' with this & it's something to always practise but make it fun & exciting. My younger GSD has never b*ggered off but I don't ever get complacent about this but always work on recall & proof it in different environments.

    My older GSD had a 'Fenton' moment several years ago & I don't think I've ever gotten over the trauma of it all so this is very important to me :D
     
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  11. Chatcat

    Chatcat PetForums Senior

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    @Cleo38 a Fenton moment - hilarious that this is now in everyday use!

    @Jason25 I really understand your fears on this. However, being on lead is not the total washout that some might think. I have a harness and a 8 metre flexi. Clo also wears a collar. I use the flexi locked like an ordinary lead on the collar when necessary, ie pavement walking, and then switch to the unlocked flexi on the harness for paths and fields. If I am in a TOTALLY safe place, ie, an empty sheep field that is secure, then I let her off everything. I found that a long line was a total nightmare, because it literally caught on every piece of twig and I was forever getting her out of hedges. So, I suggest you keep her secure until this behaviour has worn off.

    Regarding the training to come going pear shaped out of the home, we had this too. I cured it by going to very boring places and working on the recall, and doing games, etc, and then transferred it to more distracting places, like footpaths and fields, etc. Eventually I am now able to call her back from a bird chase or a rabbit chase (most times)! But TBH she is a bit lazy, so if it is a long way off she can't be bothered!!

    Good luck, it all sounds quite curable!
     
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  12. Jason25

    Jason25 PetForums Member

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    Well we haven't been for an off lead since my last post on this thread but we've made some really good progress.

    We walk on a 8m retractable lead and harness, when lead is fully extended I call her back to me and she's starting to take notice of me a quicker. When we go past the parts where the path splits off, I call her back to me, give her a treat then we walk past them together and she doesn't pay attention to them.


    When we do our morning street walk we've been playing a bit of game where I hold a treat in my hand and she'll walk beside me while focusing on me. This is brilliant if I tried this a few weeks back it would of lasted a few seconds and she would of zoned out onto something else where as now we can do a minute or so without loosing focus. We will work on this every morning, but I'm wondering if I should be adding some sort of command for it?
     
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  13. Bugsys grandma

    Bugsys grandma PetForums Senior

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    I didn't know what a 'Fenton moment ' was. Just looked it up. Absolutely hilarious! Although terrible for the deer, and Fentons poor dad! But I had a proper chuckle! :Hilarious
     
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  14. Chatcat

    Chatcat PetForums Senior

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    @Jason25, sorry, been a bit busy. Yes, you can add whatever command you like, I use "close", but it's also about body language. I combine it with hand signals and then if I want to be discreet, I can use those instead. I put my hand on my thigh, with fingers flat, I used to have a treat under my hand, but don't always bother now. So really, use whatever works for you. Try to use a voice command that doesn't sound like any other command.

    The only downside of hand signals is that when I was very animated talking the other day, Clo was dropping down and standing up, doing all sorts of stuff, til I realised I was throwing my hands all over the place!
     
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