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Sun Jan 22, 2012, 09:52 PM

I can't keep up with my dog.

My dog is 3 going on 4 now; and he is 2 working breeds with no job (herder and malamute). He has boundless energy and I take him to the dog park twice a day. He knows how to leave the dog park 5 different ways, 2 of which include jumping over the fence and climbing the fence if he sees a squirrel or a fox or anything else that appeals to him.

Today there were children on a sledding hill squealing with delight. He heard them, went over the fence and wanted to join in all the fun. So there he was, running all over the sledding hill, kissing the kids and rolling around in the snow, running between the sleds. I don't climb fences at my age and when he's having a good time his recall is pretty poor. He plays for a few minutes and then comes back.

He loves children and wouldn't hurt anyone- he's just having fun.

Most of the people are fine with it but there's always someone who gets mad... and yells at me to "control my dog". If only.

I've been working on the recall forever. I don't know if you can ever get it from a half malamute. I think I just have to wait till he gets old and can't fly over the fence any more.

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Reply I can't keep up with my dog. (Original post)
undeterred Jan 2012 OP
Stinky The Clown Jan 2012 #1
jtuck004 Jan 2012 #2
undeterred Jan 2012 #10
TorchTheWitch Jan 2012 #3
get the red out Jan 2012 #4
undeterred Jan 2012 #5
TorchTheWitch Jan 2012 #6
undeterred Jan 2012 #8
TorchTheWitch Jan 2012 #12
cyberspirit Jan 2012 #7
undeterred Jan 2012 #9
TorchTheWitch Jan 2012 #11
undeterred Jan 2012 #13
TorchTheWitch Jan 2012 #17
wildeyed Jan 2012 #14
undeterred Jan 2012 #15
wildeyed Jan 2012 #16
TorchTheWitch Jan 2012 #18
wildeyed Jan 2012 #19

Response to undeterred (Original post)

Sun Jan 22, 2012, 11:06 PM

1. You my sympathy and understanding

We have recall issues of varying degrees with all three of ours.

The best one is the Border Collie, particularly if it is me doing the calling. Hierarchy is *everything* to her. She's the alpha dog, but I'm her alpha. No other humans are, although she listens well to Sparkly, my sons, and to a lesser degree, SparklyJr.

The Shih-Tzu comes only when it seems to her to be in her best interest. Several times she's just disappeared. Being a small dog, she's not easy to see, even if she's next door. She likes to visit a few doors down where they have two little girls who she gleefully claims as hers. If she's there, she will not only not come, she will run away a few feet every time we go near her. Apart from that, no problem.

The problem is the GSD. While gentle, she's scary as hell. Add to that the fact that she's a barker and she terrifies people. The kids tried to take her along on mountain bike rides in the woods. They'd let her off leash, and while she wouldn't run away, she stayed maybe 50 to 100 feet from them. If they encountered other bikers or hikers, she'd bark and scare the bejeebus out of people, pissing them off. On leash, she's fine with me, sorta okay with the others.

Both the BC and the GSD have jobs. The BC is the Deer Chaser. I can set her on the deck and she'll sit there for hours, watching for deer. She's fine when she does that.

The GSD is a "chicken chaser." This is her 'chicken" - a large, orange, Kong-like ball with feet. If she's chasing it and bringing it back, she's happy as can be. Remarkably, she ignores everything for that toy.

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Response to undeterred (Original post)

Sun Jan 22, 2012, 11:11 PM

2. Here's a link you might want to look at



You may already have your program, but Chong's ideas really work. Takes a lot of persistence and determination, but the dog is likely to hang on their happy and spirited ways, as opposed to being cowed or slowed down.

Anyway, it's a resource.

Sounds like a great dog. One of our rescues was a border collie mix, 16 years of nonstop action, so I can empathize with you.

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Response to jtuck004 (Reply #2)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 06:26 PM

10. Looks like a great page.

I think it really is about the relationship.

Any wonder he gets the impression that he's the Boss? He gets it from me! Once in a while I'm the boss.

Maybe I can change it, little by little. I'm hoping it will change as he gets older- it does seem to be going in that direction a little at a time.

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Response to undeterred (Original post)

Sun Jan 22, 2012, 11:23 PM

3. until you can control him he should be on a leash

Even at the dog park. A big dog can hurt someone when they don't mean to just in playing (especially children) simply because they're big. I can see why some people get upset that you're dog isn't under control nor obeying your commands. It doesn't matter if he's just playing... people shouldn't be having to deal with someone else's dog if they don't want to nor have it uncontrolled around their kids if they don't want it to be. You really need to respect those people that don't want to deal with your dog whether he's friendly and just playing or not by keeping him under physical control until he will pay attention to and obey your commands. Even at the dog park. Which is why I don't go to them nor take my dog to them.

As for his recall... there's nothing wrong with it. He's an adult and plenty old enough to obey your every command even when he really really doesn't want to. The problem here isn't him. He's not paying attention to your commands because he doesn't want to and doesn't think he has to because he doesn't consider you to be the alpha in the relationship. That's the entire key to an obedient dog whatever their age. He and you need to go back to the basics in obedience training. Both he and you would be a lot happier if he can run and play at the dog park off-leash, but he shouldn't be doing that until he's obedient and will obey your commands. Until he's obedient he really has to be on a leash so that both you and he don't get into trouble, and that includes the dog park.

He's a big healthy working breed and needs a ton of exercise every day (and I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't know with that!). Figure out clever ways to have him doing 90% or more of the exercise since no matter how fit you are good bloody luck trying to keep up with a dog like that... they're on warp drive and have energy to spare nearly 24/7. I also have big working breeds with that kind of energy, and I'm old, out of shape and lazy. LOL! But I've come up with ways to exercise the hell out of them every day where they do almost all of the work. Any dog is far more inclined to pay attention in training when they don't have a lot of bottled up energy as well.

In a nutshell, what's needed here is two things... one, he needs to be leashed until such time that he is obedient; and two, both you and the dog need to go through proper obedience training until he is at a point where he can be trusted off-leash at the dog park or anywhere else.

If you need some help on where to start with obedience training, the Leerburg website is a fantastic tool even if you don't want to buy any of their material because they have a wellspring of information on the site that's free as well as a forum where you can get specific help with a specific problem...

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Response to undeterred (Original post)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 09:46 AM

4. Toys?

Are there any toys your dog just loves? My dog (herder mix) LOVES chasing tennis balls. I really believe getting a chuck-it has helped teach her good recall. She is also very food motivated. If you dog enjoys a game of fetch perhaps you could distract him when you first see the signs of his thinking the grass is greener on the other side?

I have been playing ball fetch with Layla and had people who wanted to pet her but I have to tell them she won't even notice them so long as a ball is in evidence except to move away and look at me to toss the ball.

I also worked a long time on getting her to come to me for very good treats. When our dog was a pup she loved to slip out the door and avoid capture, all we had to do was go get a bite of cheese and she would whiz back into the house, she could not resist it. If there is something special your dog loves to eat you could even work on this inside the house or on a long leash outside. Those really long leads only cost about $8 at a discount store and are handy for teaching things like recall.

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Response to undeterred (Original post)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 01:15 PM

5. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions!

I will keep working on it...

Keeping him on leash for long periods of time just makes him really frustrated. During times when I haven't been able to take him to the off leash dog park he's gone on lots of long leashed walks, so he gets exercise. But when we finally get back to the dog park and he gets off leash he's more likely to push the limits and leave the park or not come right away when he's called. Its like he's deliberately rebelling.

He doesn't like fetch. He will bring the ball back once at most. He thinks its a bore. But if someone else is playing fetch with their dog he will steal the ball and make it a "chase me" game.

Edit: Treats do help, and I carry them all the time. He's got me trained to give him a treat before he will even get in the car so I can chauffeur him to and from the dog park.

He's been through Canine Good Citizen Training and passed on the second try, although it was pretty clear that the "come" command was not his favorite. Also had a couple of Agility classes and therapy dog class. He is very smart... he just doesn't always want to do what he is told.

He likes games that he invents, and that's whats scary. I'm almost afraid to describe it. I had him at a friends house in the back yard and we were ready to leave. He could tell by my body language. He took one look at the fence and looked at me. Then he was over and gone. I backed out into the street, and there he was in front of me, ready to play "herd the car". I drove about four blocks to where there was a city worker cutting trees, and he ran ahead of me. (He's a "front herder".) I parked and asked the city worker to call my dog by name, which he did, and my dog came to him. He got him and I was able to put him in the car. I don't scold him or make a big deal about it because I know if I did it would make things worse. Yes, I know its terrible. Its dangerous.

In his mind all this stuff is "play" and he is a delightfully playful animal. I don't want to break his spirit and I don't want him to get hurt. But he is awfully strong willed and I've never dealt with an animal anything like him.

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Response to undeterred (Reply #5)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 04:34 PM

6. the really intelligent ones can be the most difficult

Personally, I love the battle of wits with them... I wouldn't want a dumb dog. But the really smart ones you have to be constantly on your toes with because they almost always want to try to outwit you. They're also easily bored, so it's often a challenge to come up with toys and games that hold their attention. And because they're smart, they'll get into all manner of mischief making the moment your back is turned and teach themselves to do the most bizzare things. But I love watching them figure things out when they think I'm not paying attention... I swear you can see them think.

My last Akita, Boo, was never very keen on playing fetch (it's boring), so I invented ways to make it more interesting for him and used toys and inventions that held his interest. For instance, I'd combine playing fetch with "hide the mommy"... throw the toy for him and then run and hide so he's interested in getting the toy and bringing it back just so he can find me. One of the best ways I've found to easily exercise the hell out of a dog was to play fetch up and down the stairs... all I did was stand at the top and keep throwing the toy while they did all the running up and down. Didn't take long at all for them to get pooped out with that game. It was the only time Boo had any interest in playing fetch because he was never certain I'd still be at the top of the stairs after each throw or not since maybe I was and maybe I was hiding. Things that are inconsistent are what keep the smart dogs interested because they can never figure it out - which makes it endlessly interesting.

Try to find toys that are inconsistent in movement or noise. Those are the ones that will keep them interested because they're never sure what the toy will do. I love the Wiggly Giggly ball for this because sometimes it makes the giggle noise and sometimes it doesn't, and at least the bigger ones (which are damn hard to find anywhere anymore) don't always roll straight. It's the single toy that has kept all three of my Akitas interested and after all these years is the only one to have survived to the pup I have now (though he's doing his level best to kill it just like his predesessors).

Obedience classes are generally a joke since the one thing they don't teach you is how to be the alpha in your relationship with your dog. EVERYTHING stems from that. Just being taught general commands is a waste of time because no command will ever be instilled in the dog to always be obeyed if they don't believe you're the leader. The single biggest thing the dog needs to learn is which one of you is in charge - always. The leader always goes first when walking, going up and down stairs, in and out of doorways, etc. The leader always eats first - no sharing of your food until you're finished eating. There are many many things that dogs do or don't do because of who they believe is the leader/alpha in their relationship with you.

Dogs need to be trained just like a mommy dog teaches her pups or human parents teach their children. The parent (dog owner) is ALWAYS in charge. They even look and act the superior all the time. I think it's a lot easier for people to understand and apply leadership with their dog if they think of it as parenting. Basically, it's the same thing. I'm not a human parent myself, but I found this far easier to understand by thinking about the relationship I had with my own parents and how they looked and acted ALL THE TIME as the superior to me. Dogs respond the same way to proper indentification of who is the alpha the same way as kids respond to their parents as being their superiors. Dogs just think differently about what signs and actions determine that someone is their superior, so a dog has to be taught who the boss is in a way that a dog understands. Unlike people, dogs will not accept an unstable leader, and if they feel as though their leader isn't doing a proper job of it they'll take over that task themselves. Dogs naturally are born followers - they don't WANT to be the leader and only will step in and take over when they believe their leader isn't competent enough. They are HAPPIER when someone other then them is the competent leader.

Read through the basic puppy training stuff at the Leerburg site and watch the videos on the site. Since establishing leadership is normally done when the dog is a pup that's where that information is. It doesn't matter at what age the dog is when you need to reestablish who's the boss though... old dogs WILL learn this new trick, and be very happy about it since they don't want to have to make the tough decisions as the leader/parent just as kids don't want to have to be the "parent" in their relationship with their parents.

Ok, I admit it... I REALLY like being able to say "because I'M the mommy, that's why!" once in awhile even though it's to the dog since I don't have kids. Damn, but I always wanted to be able to have a reason to say that! Now I know why my mom said it so often. LOL!

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Response to TorchTheWitch (Reply #6)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 06:17 PM

8. I hope its not too late to make the change!

He is so different from my last dog. I picked the last one because he was quiet - my vet said he was probably the most submissive one in the litter. Not a smart dog but never had any behavior issues with him.

This dog was a lost puppy in a rural area. I bet he got bored with the litter and took off on his own as soon as he was able over the fence. He was so cute the woman at the shelter took him home to her farm and he was running around chasing cows. A total extravert, always in charge.

When we're at the park and he's off leash he hangs around me and I've taught him to "check in" occasionally for treats. If I am watching and he's eyeing the fence and I say NO at the right moment he will stop going over. But if I am not right there to say it when he is thinking it, he will go over and investigate whatever attracted him. So there is a little control but I feel like I have to be on him every single minute... and if a squirrel goes by there he goes.

I know everyone has issues with their dog - smart is at least interesting, but my next dog is going to be dumb as a box of rocks!

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Response to undeterred (Reply #8)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 12:36 AM

12. It's NEVER too late

Any dog can learn to accept someone as the superior in the relationship whether it's someone they didn't before or someone new. They prefer it that way anyhow as long as they're satisfied that their superior is competent at all times. When retaking the control int eh relationship the dog will likely be confused at first, but they will very quickly catch on and be glad that someone else is making the decisions and being the parent so they don't have to.

As an example, with Boo it was the first time I lived in a home that had an upstairs and a downstairs, so it never occurred to me that he needed to always allow me to go first in going up and down the stairs unless I told him otherwise. I already knew about not walking ahead or me or going in and out of doors or gates ahead of me, but I never considered the stairs before. I noticed that on the stairs he loved to take charge and try to plow past me to get either up or down first. And being a great big beast it was all too easy for him to jostle me, and if I was carrying something it was not good. I noticed that he was doing this as an attempt to get away with something no leader normally allows, so I started hip-checking him... when he tried to pass me, I bonked him with my hip and if need be would crowd him into the wall to make damn sure he wasn't going to get passed me.

The first couple of times he was confused and gave me a "what the hell?" look, but he caught on by the third or fourth time, and ever after he NEVER went up or down the stairs with me with him being in front unless I directed him to do otherwise. If he wanted to go up or down the stairs when I wasn't around that didn't matter... it was only when I was going up or down and he wanted to come, too. He could tell certain times when he knew I was going to go upstairs and would wait at the bottom with his front feet on the first step looking at me expectantly wanting to be sure that I was intending to go up the stairs and waiting for me to either go first or tell him to go ahead on his own because I wasn't ready to go up yet. He did the same thing in reverse at the top of the stairs with his front feet down on the next step and looking at me for direction.

Sometimes I wanted him to go up or down first especially if I was carrying something heavy or awkward or couldn't see over, and that's fine because it was still me being the one to make the decision for him and to tell him to go first.

That's how fast they can learn and how much they prefer someone else to be telling them what to do so they don't have to be making the decisions and always being the one in command. Dogs really really do prefer not to be the captain of the ship making all the tough choices and being the responsible one.

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Response to undeterred (Original post)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 04:40 PM

7. This is what worked for me

When I got my rescue dog 2 years ago I had the same problem. She's part border collie. I spend a lot of time on the beach during the summer and she would take off after every sea gull, dog, child, person she saw and getting her to come back was a real challenge. So this is what I found worked.

I got an Acme silent dog whistle and played hide and seek with her. I'd hide and blow the whistle. She caught on really fast and she loved the game. I didn't even have to reward her with treats although I would suggest that. We played the game outside and inside. So now when I blow the whistle she thinks she's playing the game.

I also got an Easy Walk harness because she pulled horribly when we walked. It worked immediately and gave her an opportunity to learn some self discipline.

There's always Rescue Remedy that can be used to mellow him out. The Remedy for animals doesn't have alcohol in it. It's not an every day thing, but it is safe and natural for those times you need him to be more mellow.

Sounds like a wonderful dog that you love a lot. Have you talked to him about it? I know it probably sounds strange, but try it.

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Response to cyberspirit (Reply #7)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 06:22 PM

9. Thank you for your suggestions.

I did buy a regular whistle and used that for a while. He seemed to like being the only dog at the park who had a particular whistle. Maybe I'll try a silent whistle.

Also got a herding whistle just to see what they are like, but its hard to use. Have heard of rescue remedy but never tried that or the easy walk harness.

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Response to undeterred (Reply #9)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 12:07 AM

11. a harness for a big strong dog isn't going to do much good

What you really need is what's called a prong collar (also called training collar). They're made of separate links so you can add or subtract links as needed for a proper fit. It HAS to fit correctly or it won't work correctly and if too loose can even come unlinked. Leerburg has a really good explaination of a prong collar and how it works, how to fit it properly, etc., here...

You can get them in any dog supply store. A large breed dog needs to have the one made of the large sized links.

I would be lost without a prong collar for my big Akitas especially since all of them are/were close to my size in weight, but they are FAR stronger pound for pound. My first one even outweighed me by nearly 30 lbs.

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Response to TorchTheWitch (Reply #11)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 10:07 AM

13. I've got a prong collar and did use it the first year.

Also have a harness that I use occasionally. But since I have bursitis in my right shoulder it appears that I am going to have to go back to the collar again to retrain on walking/pulling. He isn't really that big (65 lbs) but he is unbelievably strong. I can believe he could pull a heavy sled.

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Response to undeterred (Reply #13)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 03:35 PM

17. pound for pound they're WAY stronger than we are

He needs to learn to heel not just because you're the superior in the relationship but also so he doesn't inadvertantly hurt you.

Ever walked with a walking stick or any kind of stick? It's really helpful in teaching them to not go ahead of you since you can check them with the stick. Don't even need to touch them with it, just move it in front of them the second you notice they're trying to pass you up.

I'm always amazed at the amount of strength a dog has. Even smaller dogs that I outweight several times over could probably beat me at arm wrestling. Their stamina is even more incredible. Sometimes I think we humans are just ridiculous weaklings. Animals must think we're not just weird but pathetic yet they're gracious about it and pretend not to notice.

If you go back to using the prong collar (which is probably a good idea especially with your bursitis) just make certain that it fits properly.

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Response to undeterred (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 07:10 PM

14. When I walk my Border collie, I put a doggy backpack on him and add weight.

Helps tire him out a bit. Might also seem like a real job to him. When we do short hikes, he carries the family's water and snacks.

I do agility with him a couple of times a week. We are not competitive, but it is fun and good exercise for both of us. We do light obedience work most days. If you have time to do the dog park twice daily, you can probably work in a bit of obedience too.

Clicker training is also awesome if you are just looking to burn off a little mental bandwidth and have some fun. You teach the dog to associate the click with a treat. It is then possible to train them to do al sorts of complicated things. Mine can close cabinet doors on command and we are working on riding a skateboard.

The thing that everyone says about working dogs, "if you don't give them a job to do, they come up with their own and you won't like it" may be true for you pup. He might need a mental challenge more than additional exercise.

Good luck. He sounds like a load of fun when he is not being a PITA!

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Response to wildeyed (Reply #14)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 08:24 PM

15. Thank you.

My vet kind of said the same thing but also told me I was lucky to have such a smart dog.

We did have one intermedite agility class where they set up all the stations so we were doing just run throughs instead of just one trick at a time. That was kind of fun and exhausting. He likes going over the A frame and the jumps the most-I guess that's the fence jumper in him.

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Response to undeterred (Reply #15)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 08:59 PM

16. We belong to a dog training club.

We pay a reasonable monthly fee and can use their indoor agility ring anytime we want. It is a life saver when the weather is bad. They also offer a variety of training classes, overnight boarding, doggie daycare and of course you can pay a great deal of money to have their trainers work with your dog.

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Response to wildeyed (Reply #14)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 03:56 PM

18. I love the backpack idea. I've been thinking of getting one for the current beastie

Now that I'm getting older I've noticed it's harder for me to keep up with them like I used to.

Sooooooo true that if you don't give them a job to do they'll figure one out on their own and one you won't like... geez, I can't think how many times I've said that! And it really sucks to learn it the hard way. Just yesterday I got busy doing something and you-know-who got bored and decided to rearrange the furniture. All the couch cusions were off the couch and in various other rooms, all the blankets and pillows from the bed were in the hallway, and two of the dining room chairs were on their sides on the floor (one in the living room). I have no idea how he managed this so quietly. Usually, I notice that if they're too quiet they must be up to no good because if they're asleep they normally want to be in whatever room I'm in or where we can see each other.

My dogs always needed mental challenges more than physical ones, but they had to get a decent amount of exercise every day or they get neurotic and rammy. Even on our walks I always make it a point to hit those places and things that they find most fascinating. For example, a couple of streets away there's a house that has what I've been told is a sump pump... whatever it is it spits water every few minutes from an underground pipe that comes out at the curbside, and the water runs several yards down the street and into the drain. For some reason both this dog and the last one are endlessly enraptured by this thing. If I let them they'd have spent all damn day waiting for the water to spit out again and chasing it to the drain. It's amazing how much Boo and this dog acted almost exactly the same way with this thing watching it intently from a mere few inches away and doing that head tilt from side to side and then starting to get all excited jsut before the water spits out (I think they can hear it going through the pipe so they know when it's coming, but I can't). Then the second the water spits out they POUNCE on it in glee and then go splashing through it racing it to the drain. Back and forth, back and forth... both Boo and this one would cheerfully spend the entire day doing this. It's ridiculous, but Boo doing this for years and now this one doing it nearly every day it still always makes me laugh. They're absolute delight in such a simple stupid thing is such a joy.

On Edit... I found what he did with the bathroom trashcan! That was driving me nuts. He'd taken out the bag with what little bits of trash there was in it and dragged it around the bedroom judging from the debrie field, but I couldn't find the actual trashcan itself. It was in the bathtub! I can't imagine how he could possibly have gotten it in there without it making all kinds of noise though. That'll teach me not to have the tubby empty of water and none of his tubby toys in it! That usually keeps him entertained on his own for hours.

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Response to TorchTheWitch (Reply #18)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 06:26 PM

19. I know what you mean!

I don't let the younger dog out of my sight for much longer than I would a three year old human. He is a busy boy.

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