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Does anyone else have a doodle who won't come back inside from the yard because they're obsessed with the squirrel that they've tree'd? I don't know how to fix this one. 

Maggie knows come. We work on it in the house and in class and I'm confident that she understands. But when she's obsessing over the dang squirrel she totally blows me off. I think she thinks it's a fun game. It's really not that fun. My solution is having her wear her leash so I can catch her, but it's not a real solution, and I worry that she'll never be able to be off leash if we don't fix this. 

She will come for a treat (sometimes), but she darts away as soon as she takes it. She plays keep away if I try to walk over and get her. She ignores me if I tell her to come. She won't sit stay or down stay if she knows I want to catch her. I know you can't scold them when they actually do come. And I don't know how to correct her if she doesn't come... I'm stumped. 

Last night I had a dog sitter come stay with them because I went out of town for 28 hours. This morning the dog sitter forgot to put the leash on her and it took her 4 hours to get her back inside. Heaven help us if I forget the leash if I need to go to work. 

Please throw any and all ideas out there. I can call the private trainer to come back out and help us, but I really have no idea where to begin working on this one. Her behavior is so self-rewarding. She's having a fabulous time! I need to be more exciting than the squirrel, and I'm just not. Should I dress up in a squirrel suit??? 

Thank you all so much for helping with my Maggie Adventures. She's such a wonderful girl, but she's really making me work on my dog mom skills!

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Probably keeps the neighbors away too!  :-)

Brilliant! You are sooooo cool!

I would go back to beginning basic training.  With the long leash on and call her to you and give a really valuable treat...cheese, hot dogs, beef jerky etc.  something you only give with this type of training.  Consistent, over and over.  I would also go back to simple commands of sit, stay, leave it.  15 minute per incremental training helps them tire out too.  Always saving those 'special' treats for recall.  She needs to understand that you are in charge ... not the other way around.  Firm but loving training is the best advice I can give.  I know it is controversial, but you can use an  e-collar tone or vibe noise to train.  i did use the stimulus to start , this was done with my trainer's help because I was not comfortable.  Today I take my girls off leash to state land and city forests and they love it and so do I they have a riot!.  I keep them within range and watch them closely.  If they go off a little too far I use the "here'' command and a vibe or tone simultaneously.   Very very very seldom do I need the stimulus today.  To me it's amazing when Elli runs a few yards off, stops, looks back at me and comes running back to the trail I'm on.  She watches me...instead of me constantly  having to call her back to me (believe me, that was not fun).  Elli is my rescue who was 6 when she came to live with me.  She was an extreme wild child ... could not even leash walk.  If a critter was outside, she went bezerk.  The first weekend I had her she worked herself into such a frenzy that she jumped over our 5 foot fence!  She's been with me going on 4 years and not once has she tried jumping that fence...I hired a trainer immediately, and with the e-collar she was trained within a couple weeks.  But, it took me watching her every move for a few weeks and giving her the negative stimulus.  I wanted to be able to let her out in the yard without worrying she was going over the fence.  Today she has almost impeccable recall...even when she runs off chasing the neighbors cat!  The last little advice is when she comes to you and grabs the treat and then runs off...when you have her on the long leash and you give her the recall command...if she doesn't come you pull her toward you with the leash and give her the great treat while you hold on to her collar...when she calms, then release her.  Repeat over and over.

Well, I hope I've helped some.  I know I needed tons of help with Elli.  I didn't know how wonderful and well-behaved Skadi was until I adopted Elli.     Here's Elli off leash in the city forest this past Monday...see her looking at the squirrel and wanting me to release her with an 'OK' so she can go chase it!  Good luck.                                                       

Thank you, that does help. I know that I'm not helping my cause when I *only* call her to come inside. I think I need to use those high value treats to practice calling her and then releasing her to continue playing. But from a human perspective, coming back into the house is not supposed to be a punishment! I'm not exaggerating when I say we go outside a lot. Upwards of 10 times a day. We don't always stay out there very long, but we go out often. It's not like she won't have another opportunity to chase them, but I probably need to work on thinking more like a dog and less like a person.

I probably also need to find a longer leash to practice with. She chewed through the 15 foot nylon leash while she was wearing it - then I couldn't catch her again! So she's been wearing a 6 foot "clothes line" type leash. Not nearly as eatable. And she doesn't get tangled on things as much as with the wider leash. But it doesn't give me as much opportunity to practice recalls. She knows the difference between leash and no leash though. When she has the leash on she comes right over to me. Without it it's like she knows I can't catch her. She really is outsmarting me. People think they're at the top of the food chain, but my dogs really rule the world. They've got it made. I do all the work and they just get worshiped. 

And that is a gorgeous photo! I love what you've accomplished with Elli. 

Stacy,

If you are looking for a durable long line that doesn't tangle easily, you might want to try a biothane long line while you are reinforcing Maggie's recall. I use one on Belle so she can run loose in my back yard, where she can (and did once) slip under the fence. Unlike the long leashes I used to use, the biothane doesn't tangle in the trees and bushes. It also doesn't give me rope burns if I have to catch her. She hasn't tried to escape in a while, but I continue to use the long line because I really, really want to avoid having to race frantically around the block again to keep her out of danger if she slips into the unfenced yard behind us. Amazon has biothane lines in a variety of lengths.

Great advice from Joani. I know I cannot compete in the backyard with a treed squirrel so I do not set myself up to fail by calling Gavin under those circumstances. Instead I would go out and get him.  Your leash idea is ideal.  I would practice recall when I can control it and when I was certain he will obey.

Gavin is off leash a lot at the cottage and I know this sounds odd, but his recall is way better when I call him from out of sight. If I am standing at the back he knows his options and weighs squirrel duty as being way more interesting. If he can’t see me he kind of panics to find me. We fostered this by playing hide and seek with him inside and outside the house as a puppy. It’s a fun game and he loves it even at 9 years old.

i also have an emergency recall system — a whistle. I use it very sparingly and something totally amazing happens when I use it. A game of squeaky tennis ball, a wrestling match, game of chase or the best treat only for this purpose....chicken wiener. I carry the whistle on my leash and have it for when we are in the woods hiking off leash.

Good luck. Recall is a lifetime challenge IMO.

You are such a great training doodle mom, BG.  “High value food treat not available. No problem, Gav.  How about a fun game!”

Aw thanks Nancy. For Gav a squeaky ball beats a steak any day of the week.

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