Quossum: Love the new avatar! Was it his birthday or is it a Holiday Cap? I can't really tell? Just adorable!
Thanks! It's the holiday hat / headband that one of the corgis was wearing in our Christmas picture (did you see it in that other thread? Tres cute!), but my hubby was convinced that it would look good on Sugarfoot, so we balanced it precariously on him and snapped away! I wish the background had been different; it kind of fades against the fence.
Though it was also his birthday recently: Nov. 27. Hard to believe he's a year old!
Wow, great advice from everybody! Since his friend being down the block is a situation that you can't control in order to use his friend to your advantage, don't put him in this situation yet because he hasn't got the self control for it yet. Same with the cat food.
See if you can borrow his friend to use in a controlled setting so you can release him to go play with his friend as a reward. A nice, big fenced in tennis court or something. One person holding his friend's leash and you holding Ben's. When he comes, obviously, drop the leash for friend time for 30 secs. Then back to recall from further and further away.
The cat food? I'd try to get a solid "Leave it" so he just never touches the stuff. You have to get him to think that leaving the cat food alone is MUCH more rewarding than eating it. Offer him something better for not eating cat food.
And like was said, keep it interesting, keep it fun, and keep it rewarding. Try to make up as many recall games as you can. Google games for ideas too and play those. Mix it up. Play hide and go seek. Play follow the leader (also helps to teach heel. Some call this doodling, I think. I prefer off leash in an enclosed area). Run away with your hands waving in the air, yelling "AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!" for him to chase you. Run away trailing a toy or rag with broth on it. Play red light, green light. Make coming to you just about the best choice he can possibly make. Coming to you shouldn't be the end of fun, in his opinion. Don't call him if you're going to put in the icky ear medicine. Don't call him to end the end of the fetch game.
I say back to Square One to teach a solid recall. You need consistency and a plan. There are many different opinions on how to train recall, but I would find one you are comfortable with since you will be doing the training and just start over. I have been working with Sunny for a drop dead solid recall and we are getting very close. It is amazing to watch. I just started with a long line in a park and decided "FRONT" would be our command, and when he got far away from me I would call "Front" and give a little tug to the line and he would return to me, sit at my feet and he would get the most yummy treat --- I used Merrick's dehydrated hot dog treats -- and honestly, after about 2 months, he is automatic. So, I think you just need to start over, build solidly until you know you have a reliable recall and then constantly reinforce. Good luck.