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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all!

I know I'm more of a lurker on here lol but I feel like I need some advice from poodle people, and this is a long post. My now 14 month old spoo, Xhosa, recall has gotten significantly worse! Throughout puppyhood and adolescence, her recall was great. She always has to know where I am, so she was great about checking in, coming to me, not running off, etc. Honestly, I think I took all that for granted and didn't perfect her "come" command. But alas, all this stopped about 2 months ago, a little after she turned one after a specific fox-chasing incident. We were off leash on a secluded trail and she spotted a fox (had never seen one before) and bolted after it. I instantly went into panic mode, calling her, but she kept chasing. I never lost sight of her, and she did come back to me once the fox was "gone." Then later that evening when we got back to the same spot in our hike, she was off leash (hindsight is 20/20, but we live we learn) to run across the water to my boyfriend. She does this all the time, never wavers. But this time she went to go find the fox. I called her, she turned around as if to say "come on! We're chasing foxes!" And took off again. I couldn't see her for like 2 minutes, but it felt like eternity. I'm in tears at this point. Then she comes bounding back to me and my boyfriend like nothing happened. But since that day, her prey drive has increased and her recall is poor. Now she will run after anything that runs: deer, cats, other dogs, shoot maybe people running, bikes, skateboards at this point if she's off leash, idk! She is VERY playful and thinks this is a game.

I live in an apartment in a city, no private yard, and we don't go to dog parks (she kept getting eye infections from the local park) so she spends most of her time on leash or off leash in the fenced in playground (which is a gamble since no dogs are allowed) or in our secret spot, which we go to almost daily. Again, she doesn't want to run "away" from me, but when I call her, she would much rather play "keep away" for a couple minutes than come. But if I don't call her, she will come to me on her own chill with me, relax, so I never have a problem getting her back to me (yet). I also noticed that if she cannot see me, she will drop everything to find me, but if she's chasing something, I don't have time to go hide, I need her to listen! I got a long line for her because of her prey drive. Im starting to fear I can't trust her in our secret off leash spot. The long line has helped broaden her play area options.

We visit my parents at least once a week and they have a huge yard, but they recently got a spoo puppy of their own (only 8 weeks).

Ive talked to a trainer and he mentioned e collar. I'm not opposed to training collars (she uses a prong), but I really wanted to try to see if their was help without e collar. She's not the most food motivated dog, but will take treats, but in terms of hierarchy, I think a squirrel will override a treat. I tried tug toys, it worked twice lol.

I think I've poisoned the "come" command, and may need a new word (I've used "here" for coming to me and touching my hand, "come" means sit in front. I'm planning on keeping her on leash while we work (I am hoping this may be a phase, adolescence hit her late lol). But I need to also re-teach her recall. Any advice is welcome!!
 

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You need a flirt pole and your dog on a long line or in a fenced area. This way you can engage her prey drive and teach her to turn it off and on.
 

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Change it up. In a safe place, like your home, put her on a down. Kneel or sit beside her. Praise. Roll a ball or something that she will chase and tell her "down" or "stay". You are right there to press her down if she tries to chase. Wait one or two seconds and tell her "fetch" or "chase", or whatever you want to use. Xhosa runs after the object. Praise. Repeat over and over. This is how you teach fetch. Dog sits or lies down, you toss the object, dog waits for the all clear.

Second part is to take her to a safe place with boyfriend. Dog is on leash. When dog wishes to run to boyfriend, have her sit, then give the chase cue. Repeat this game over and over. When she is ready to chase a fox, you have her wait. I used "wait" with my border collie, but he was a working dog and it made him stop and wait until he decided he needed to do something. You aren't working livestock, so I think a simple sit or down followed by the chase will work.

Chasing squirrels is not a big deal. Have her wait until you take the leash off, let give the cue. A squirrel won't go far and will secure himself up a tree. Big praise. Recall. When it is something else, like a fox that may run over hill and dale, clip leash on if it is off, tell her to heel, and walk in the opposite direction.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you all! I do need to get a flirt pole. Adding that to the Amazon cart toooodaayyy!

Good thing is she loves her soccer ball and we play the "wait game" with that. I have her sit or down and wait, I kick the ball, she has to give me eye contact before I release her to the ball and then she gets a bunch of praise coming back to me. She loves that game and we play soccer at least twice, maybe 3 times a week. Of course I went into panic mode when she ran after the fox. Now i wonder if she would've responded to wait, because she is pretty good at that command, and stay.
 

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I have a bernedoodle client wihth a really poor recall. He is a COVID pup and lives at a home wiht the better part of 2 acres of property. His owner now knows she should have been much stricter about training a good recall when he was young, so now we struggle. I gave his person a tug toy to increase his centripetal attraction and eye contact with her the last time I was with them. She is going to work with the tugging to see how that goes. My next thing to try will be a flirt pole. When we are working on that issue of recall, right now we keep him on a flexi leash. He can't run away since the property has a fences all the way around, but I don't want him to be able to decide to trot off on his own. He doesn't play fetch (but I am thinking to teach it as part of this). He is a nice dog and is willing to learn new things. I have gotten his loose leash walking to be vastly better than it used to be. Lily is helping him to learn not to get into other dogs' faces to greet and improving his play style. Now we need the recall and to teach him how to get in the car so we can take his new skills out of the neighborhood.

I am sure you will have success, but until then I would not take your girl off leash. I can't imagine anything worse than watching your dog disappear from view in the woods.
 

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Rules for recall:

  • Always be able to reward (tug, toy, etc) and use awesome rewards. No measly dog treats -human food is best. You can animate the food by moving it to make it more appealing.
  • Try to never use recall to end a fun time. Call, then let the dog go back to what it is doing. Sometimes even if icky
  • If you expect recall won't be successful, try running away while calling instead of just calling. This run away adds fun. Don't even bother calling normally and practicing her ignoring- start running, then call.
  • For now - let her drag a longline or rope from her harness. I use a 40' rope. No need to hold onto the end if the dog is generally good, it gets far less tangled if just allowed to drag. Enforce a recall by stepping on the rope before you call.
  • Try never to participate in keep away. If my dog tried, I turn and ignore her, and walk away. Keep away is not a game I want to make fun.

Here's what I do:

I check with my dog before I let her off leash and set her up for success. I ask for a sit, a come, a down , a look, a heel... Whatever, different behaviour each time. If she is bright and attentive - I let her off leash. I immediately do a recall, reward, release again. If not attentive, I leave her on leash and work on getting her attention in that environment. No point setting us up for a situatiation where she can ignore me when she is already ignoring me! I also have a gradient of offleash. There's on 6' leash, a 15' flexi, a 40 ft long line in my hand, a 40 ft long line dragging, a 10' leash dragging, a 6' leash dragging, and true offleash. I can choose any of those depending on how much I trust her that day.

I had a lot of success teaching recall off prey by working up from low level, safe, distractions. Annie is only somewhat interested in birds she flushes. I call her, then immediately release to go chase the bird again and sometimes run and 'help' chase. Big reward. I often call at that moment when the bird gets high and Annie thinks it is getting out of reach/drive decreases - I wait until I see it, then call. By the time I send her back, it's long gone and Annie learns being with me is exciting, birds are kinda boring. This 'chase with permission' is a huge high value reward. I also call when she is sniffing, then send her back to sniff that same spot again. Coming to me doesn't end the fun. I once recalled her off of a porcupine (she had just come within 6" of catching the tail and was very riled up, so I counted this a huge success), then, sent her back to the porcupine (safely in a tree looking distainfully at the stupid dog) and then I hid. 10 min later, she was back with me, worried because she realized in chasing the porcupine, she had lost me - then we played ball.

I don't recall too often. Maybe 2-3 times in an offleash hike? Otherwise she gets bored of it and reliability decreases. I do reward self-checkins a lot.

I also love hide and go seek. If my dog isn't paying attention, I slip behind a tree, wait for her to find me, and then keep going. This has taught her to stay close, or she will lose me, and significantly decreases how far she will go without me.

Anyway - hope something there helps. It's very common to need to have a dog on a long line for a long time. I mostly hike with Annie off leash now but switched to dragging a long line earlier this week for one hike, just because I figured she would be distracted. No shame in that at all.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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I once watched my parents’ dog run away like that. He was part poodle, part dachshund, and very prey-oriented. It was horrible seeing his brain abruptly switch gears. He literally disappeared into the woods and we were all so helpless. But, like your pup, he came right back once his “job” was done.

You’ve gotten good advice. I just wanted to pop in to commiserate.
 

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For Want of Poodle that is a brilliant check list. I do those things too which is why the bernedoodle is learning to play tug right now among other things.
 

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For Want of Poodle that is a brilliant check list. I do those things too which is why the bernedoodle is learning to play tug right now among other things.
I think come is probably the most difficult skill we teach our dogs- for both the dogs and the people. With these less-food motivated dogs, it's so much more difficult and requires so much more human skill than I would have expected. I have several goldens I know that have a rock solid recall even off of other dogs to me, not their owners, just because I give them a few pieces of kibble and a head scratch.

I don't think I guessed when Annie was 6 months and had 'perfect recall' that, at nearly 2.5 years I would still be actively thinking about training recall every time I have her off leash!
 

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Not sure this is the case with your dog, but for some dogs the "come" cue becomes poisoned and they find success by retraining and reinforcing another cue word.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Rules for recall:

  • Always be able to reward (tug, toy, etc) and use awesome rewards. No measly dog treats -human food is best. You can animate the food by moving it to make it more appealing.
  • Try to never use recall to end a fun time. Call, then let the dog go back to what it is doing. Sometimes even if icky
  • If you expect recall won't be successful, try running away while calling instead of just calling. This run away adds fun. Don't even bother calling normally and practicing her ignoring- start running, then call.
  • For now - let her drag a longline or rope from her harness. I use a 40' rope. No need to hold onto the end if the dog is generally good, it gets far less tangled if just allowed to drag. Enforce a recall by stepping on the rope before you call.
  • Try never to participate in keep away. If my dog tried, I turn and ignore her, and walk away. Keep away is not a game I want to make fun.

Here's what I do:

I check with my dog before I let her off leash and set her up for success. I ask for a sit, a come, a down , a look, a heel... Whatever, different behaviour each time. If she is bright and attentive - I let her off leash. I immediately do a recall, reward, release again. If not attentive, I leave her on leash and work on getting her attention in that environment. No point setting us up for a situatiation where she can ignore me when she is already ignoring me! I also have a gradient of offleash. There's on 6' leash, a 15' flexi, a 40 ft long line in my hand, a 40 ft long line dragging, a 10' leash dragging, a 6' leash dragging, and true offleash. I can choose any of those depending on how much I trust her that day.

I had a lot of success teaching recall off prey by working up from low level, safe, distractions. Annie is only somewhat interested in birds she flushes. I call her, then immediately release to go chase the bird again and sometimes run and 'help' chase. Big reward. I often call at that moment when the bird gets high and Annie thinks it is getting out of reach/drive decreases - I wait until I see it, then call. By the time I send her back, it's long gone and Annie learns being with me is exciting, birds are kinda boring. This 'chase with permission' is a huge high value reward. I also call when she is sniffing, then send her back to sniff that same spot again. Coming to me doesn't end the fun. I once recalled her off of a porcupine (she had just come within 6" of catching the tail and was very riled up, so I counted this a huge success), then, sent her back to the porcupine (safely in a tree looking distainfully at the stupid dog) and then I hid. 10 min later, she was back with me, worried because she realized in chasing the porcupine, she had lost me - then we played ball.

I don't recall too often. Maybe 2-3 times in an offleash hike? Otherwise she gets bored of it and reliability decreases. I do reward self-checkins a lot.

I also love hide and go seek. If my dog isn't paying attention, I slip behind a tree, wait for her to find me, and then keep going. This has taught her to stay close, or she will lose me, and significantly decreases how far she will go without me.

Anyway - hope something there helps. It's very common to need to have a dog on a long line for a long time. I mostly hike with Annie off leash now but switched to dragging a long line earlier this week for one hike, just because I figured she would be distracted. No shame in that at all.
Thank you for such great tips! Looking back, Xhosa was far too distracted to be off leash that day. I've come to the consensus that her long line will be with her always until she's older. Even once we fix our recall issue because I also realize i need to be able to pull her from off leash dogs (and there are a TON in my neighborhood). Plus having a long line gave us more play opportunities. We don't have to find a secluded area to play soccer!
 

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LadyRay be careful with how you deal with off leash dogs. Generally one loose dog and one leashed dogs sets up a very unbalanced scenario with the advantage clearly with the unleashed dog of the dog being restrained by a leash. My general plan for that sort of scenario is to drop my leash(es) if we encounter a loose dog. My dog(s) will then be free to counter what ever ensues. Letting go of your leashed dog also usually will keep you safely out of the fray until you can recruit help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have a bernedoodle client wihth a really poor recall. He is a COVID pup and lives at a home wiht the better part of 2 acres of property. His owner now knows she should have been much stricter about training a good recall when he was young, so now we struggle. I gave his person a tug toy to increase his centripetal attraction and eye contact with her the last time I was with them. She is going to work with the tugging to see how that goes. My next thing to try will be a flirt pole. When we are working on that issue of recall, right now we keep him on a flexi leash. He can't run away since the property has a fences all the way around, but I don't want him to be able to decide to trot off on his own. He doesn't play fetch (but I am thinking to teach it as part of this). He is a nice dog and is willing to learn new things. I have gotten his loose leash walking to be vastly better than it used to be. Lily is helping him to learn not to get into other dogs' faces to greet and improving his play style. Now we need the recall and to teach him how to get in the car so we can take his new skills out of the neighborhood.

I am sure you will have success, but until then I would not take your girl off leash. I can't imagine anything worse than watching your dog disappear from view in the woods.
Yes, I call Xhosa a "plan-demic" puppy because I knew I was getting a dog in 2020, but I pushed my date from mid/late 2020 to early 2020 because of the pandemic. Lucky we live in the city, so she had plenty of socialization. I just wish I had done more research. I've had plenty of dogs, trained plenty of dogs, but Xhosa is my first "on my own" dog and I've made sooo many mistakes! It's just shocking because I used to be able to call her off dogs, which used to be a big source of excitement for her, and she would always come to me in low-distraction environments, so I thought her recall was great. I became too lax. But I guess I see progress? Last weekend at my parents, she "chased" some deer ran into the neighbors yard (I think it was more that they ran before she saw them, which enticed her to chase) but rather than getting over-excited, running along the fence, she immediatly came back to me when I said "inside." So I'm glad for that! I know she can relearn it, maybe not "come" but another word.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
LadyRay be careful with how you deal with off leash dogs. Generally one loose dog and one leashed dogs sets up a very unbalanced scenario with the advantage clearly with the unleashed dog of the dog being restrained by a leash. My general plan for that sort of scenario is to drop my leash(es) if we encounter a loose dog. My dog(s) will then be free to counter what ever ensues. Letting go of your leashed dog also usually will keep you safely out of the fray until you can recruit help.
Oh absolutely. Unfortunately the last encounter we had was on a bridge with traffic on my right, loose dog on my left. I had to decide that I'd much rather Xhosa get nipped by a dog than hit by a car, which is a horrible feeling. Luckily the owner caught their dog right as I went to bop it on the nose lol. It's so frustrating, but had Xhosa been off leash, I fear she would've ran into traffic (no where else to go).
 

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Wow that is a rough set of circumstances! In that situation I probably would have taken my chances with the loose dog too. I think it is awful that responsible owners have to make such terrible decisions when just out trying to have a nice walk.
 
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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Oh absolutely. Unfortunately the last encounter we had was on a bridge with traffic on my right, loose dog on my left. I had to decide that I'd much rather Xhosa get nipped by a dog than hit by a car, which is a horrible feeling. Luckily the owner caught their dog right as I went to bop it on the nose lol. It's so frustrating, but had Xhosa been off leash, I fear she would've ran into traffic (no where else to go).
Similar situation for my husband and Peggy recently. It’s an impossible scenario. :( Glad Xhosa (and you!) came out of it unscathed.
 

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Thank you for such great tips! Looking back, Xhosa was far too distracted to be off leash that day. I've come to the consensus that her long line will be with her always until she's older. Even once we fix our recall issue because I also realize i need to be able to pull her from off leash dogs (and there are a TON in my neighborhood). Plus having a long line gave us more play opportunities. We don't have to find a secluded area to play soccer!
I empathise a lot. I also had a young spoo in an apartment with no yard. Currently have a yard, don't have a fence :)

This thread might help you:

 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
By the way, how do you say Xhosa's name? Is the Xh a "Z" sound?
Hi! It's South African, so in the native tongue, it would be pronounced *click*osa, it's kinda hard to describe without hearing. But the "English" pronunciation is Ko-sa. So the Xh makes the K sound. Shes named after an actress and I was definitely calling the actress "Zohsa" before I learned lol!
 
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