Dexter is an active Spaniel. As soon as you let him off the leash he's off to roam the countryside with his nose to the ground. This is hardly surprising. I mean since the 17th-century, Spaniels have been bred for roaming the countryside helping to hunt on land and water. You can tell your Spaniel definitely has that in his ancestry. However, Dexter's love for the countryside may go a little too far. So far, in fact, that you can’t call him back. Once your Spaniel hits the ground, he is gone and no matter what you do or say, he does not want to come back.
Training your Spaniel to recall, therefore, is important. If you don’t pursue this training, then your Spaniel may get into trouble. If he comes across a busy road then Dexter may suffer an injury and you may be landed with a hefty vet bill, or worse. This type of training will also make it easier for you to tackle other problematic behaviors.
The good news is training your Spaniel to recall is relatively straightforward. You need to build up a dependence within the dog to get them stay close by. You can do that with consistent training and an effective incentive. Fortunately, Spaniels have a weak spot for anything they can eat. So some smelly food that appeals to their strong sense of smell will certainly help.
If your Spaniel is just a puppy then they should eager to please and particularly receptive. As a result, training may prove successful in just a couple of weeks. But if your dog is older and stubborn, with years of running away under their belt, then you may need a couple of months. Get training right and you won’t need to worry when you lose sight of your Spaniel. It also means more freedom for them as they won’t have to constantly be kept on a leash.
Before you start training you will need to make sure you have a few bits. A long training leash will be required. You will also need a decent stockpile of treats. Alternatively, break some smelly, tasty food into small pieces. Cheese often works very well.
Set aside 15 minutes or so each day for training. You’ll need a large yard or local fields to practice in. You’ll also need a friend and a whistle for one of the methods below.
Apart from the above, you just need enthusiasm and patience, then work can begin!
Woody is very driven by wildlife and his nose. If I have his attention, his recall is fairly good. But if he catches scent of something or seeing something, he is off for a good few minutes before listening to my command. He has phases where he will be as good as gold and now more recently he has gotten worse.
He hasn't been neutered yet.
We would just like him to reliably come back to us.
We trained his recall by using high value rewards like cheese and sausage.
Hello George, Training with treats is a great way to start, to teach a dog what a command means and to motivate them to want to do it, at some point there will be something that trumps your rewards though, so he also needs to learn that coming is not optional. There are a couple of ways to do this, and the best method depends on your dog's level of distraction. First, use a long leash for training and practice your recall around distractions, like birds, using the long leash. Follow the Reel In method from the article linked below to do this: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Second, use the distraction as a reward. This process is called the PreMack principle. It works by using a long leash and something that your dog wants to get to (like a person, treed squirrel, or exciting food). Set up the training so that the thing your dog wants is just out of reach of the long leash when it is fully extended. Release your dog so that they start to run over to the thing they want, as soon as they get a few feet away from you (say 5-10 feet out of 25 feet worth of leash) quickly tell them to "Come". If he disobeys, the leash will stop him and you can either reel him in with the leash and have him sit or see if he comes back to you willingly within a few seconds. Repeat the training until he comes right when you call, before reaching the end of the leash. If she does come to you immediately, then after he sits and you touch his collar, tell him "Okay" and give him enough slack in the leash to let him get all the way to the thing he desired. Practice this until he is convinced that the only way to get to what he wants is by coming to you first. As he improves, uses a longer and more lightweight leash to proof this around other distractions too. I suggest using a padded back clip harness while practicing commands that involve a long leash - to prevent the potential of a neck injury until he is reliable. 3. If the above training is unsuccessful, then I suggest hiring a very qualified trainer who can find his 'working level' and teach a remote e-collar come. This is often unnecessary for more dogs, but very bird or prey driven dogs sometimes need this. Done correctly, the training should be done with low levels of collar stimulation, and by combining the above two methods with it to help the dog understand the training clearly and keep the training fun still. The e-collar simply allows you to enforce the training at a distance and consistency that you otherwise wouldn't be able to. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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