Corgi question #1: Dewey (15 month old Pembroke) took a puppy obedience class and passed with flying colors. He knows and obeys all basic commands, except for one: he will not come when called. He knows his name and knows exactly what I want him to do, but he just looks at me, then looks at my hand to see if I have a treat, and if I don't he will just look away.

 

If I approach him, he waits until I am within arms' length and then darts away like he wants me to chase him. Because of this I cannot let him off leash at any of our wonderful dog parks, and I'm thinking we won't be able to start agility training until he learns this basic command. Is this typical corgi behavior? Any suggestions?

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We had the same problem with Ragnar starting at about 16-18 weeks. He decided it was far more fun to be chased around than to come when called. Same issue--he learned his name and "come" right away, and did it for a while. Then he started exhibiting the exact same behavior you describe. He's not outrageously food driven (I know, is he really a corgi?) so we can't really lure him with something meaty. He tries to steal it and run. Some advice I was given was to try to teach him that coming to us is the greatest thing ever by getting all excited, or playing hide and seek to make him come find us. Doesn't really work--he catches on really quick. The only thing I've found that's helping--and it isn't much, we're still working on this--is to ignore him when he wants to be chased. Just refuse to do it. He eventually wears himself out and allows himself to be picked up. It's not really a solution, but I'm hoping it's a phase and he'll finally grow bored of it and learn it doesn't really work as a game.
The way we trained Roxi is we put her on a loooooong lead out in a field and let her drag it around (you can step on it easily if they dart away).

I call this the "hand of god" technique because they learn there's no escape! We have magic powers!

So basically we started just calling her back and forth across the field.. made a game of it.. if she wouldn't come we would slowly reel her in with the leash and give her a treat. If one was calling and she was begging from the other - the other would cross their arms and turn away because they weren't calling her.

Eventually we slowly walked up and down the field on either side calling her back and forth... then slowly walking around the field together.. if she started to wander off we called her.. and if she didn't listen.. HAND OF GOD!!!!! would reel her in lol.

We also eventually slowly swapped treats out for toys and little games so she didn't expect a treat every time.

Now she's pretty good. always leash her around roads and such but fields and bbqs and such she's great.

Goodluck!!!!

oh and I recommend a treat bag and liver treats:) They're like doggy crack.

oh oh! and have YOU tried running away when you walk up to your puppy? get close enough to when you think he's about to dark and run backwards still facing him. This usually makes them want to chase YOU and come to YOU!

or in a field do something weird every now and then like slink away backwards.. or dart back and forth away or just lay or kneel down. (They are herding dogs!)

It peeks their interest. It's also useful sometimes if they do run away and wont come back for treats.. sometimes they'll run back to you if you lay down and start crying or something.

I have a question related to this- our puppy Olive is almost 12 weeks now. She is delightful and responsive in the yard and outside, but when we are in our own home she only comes some of the time. When she doesn't come, she hides under our futon and barks every time we command her to "come".

I think this is her way of playing a game-  I don't think she is hiding or afraid of us at all, but I'm not sure.

Any suggestions?

At 12 weeks, you should still only be calling her when she's already coming to you.  Get down, clap your hands cheerfully and maybe chirp at her.  If she comes running, say "Olive, come come come!" in a happy voice and praise like mad when she arrives.

 

At such a tender age, much of your training should still be focused on only giving a command when you are 100% sure the command is being followed.  Say "sit" as the puppy's butt is about to hit the ground, say "come" when she's already running to you.   She's just a baby.   If she is hiding and barking she's probably confused/uncertain and therefore frustrated, so that can quickly teach a dog that training time is NOT fun.  

 

Think of training at this point as a game and set her up to succeed every single time.  

 

Good luck!

Thank you so much Beth! That makes SO much sense! I will do that. :)

superb advice! Taking notes! :)

Ah. I am absolutely trying this. Thank you so much.

Cassie the Corgi always comes to call and doesn't like to wander far, so when I'd get the paper in the morning, she would come with me and then she would chase Ball, bounced off the garage door, for a while before we would trundle back into the house. That stopped with the arrival with Ruby the Corgi Pup, because I've been afraid she'd run off...or worse, run into the street.

She does come to call, though, because she imagines she'll get a treat every time. Sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn't.

What an excellent idea to let her roam the front yard and driveway on the end of a long leash.

Running away is a great idea. And also: once I had a golden retriever that simply could not STAND it if you laid down on the ground (this requires you to be wearing your bluejeans or some such). Dog would run off and refuse to come to call. I would lay down flat on the ground. Sometimes while I was laying there, I'd call out "DOGGY TREAT! DOGGY TREAT!" The combination was more than he could bear. Forthwith he'd come trotting up and before he could figure out what was happening, I'd grab his collar.

Ah, youth. Not a chance would I try that in my dotage. ;-)

I would use Avyon's suggestion. It really works! Also plan on having treats on you regularly and use a certain voice as well as command (I use "come" in a fun higher pitched voice) when recalling. Make sure you only treat when you are able to catch his collar or put your hand on him. NEVER use the recall for punishment and do not chase. Since he is not getting it right now the long rope will help make it seem more important to listen and come. This is a good thing to do,after you have been successful at home, at the dog park. Use the long rope and call, pull him towards you if he doesn't come right off, then make a big fuss over him. That will help him get the idea that he should come in a more hectic place as well as at home. (note-some dog parks do not allow treats) Eventually after he is pretty reliable make the treats random interspersed with pats and telling him how brilliant he is! Mine have great recall and Dewey will in no time.
Oh yea the fun voice! I only use a high-pitched "PUPPYPUPPYPUPPY!!!" when I'm giving them treats or feeding them in the house. So when I do it outside (if there's a random new distraction that they get curious over and not listen... which can still happen to a well trained pup) they come running for that treat!

We were also taught in puppy school to at first (especially recall) give the treat with the pup close to you or with two paws on your chest. (go down on one knee) So they have to go into your space to get the treat. (this is also a trust thing). Eventually you can stop because they'll run right up lol.
I have a few suggestions, besides the excellent ones you have been given. First, when you are practicing, do NOT use your recall command unless you are far and away the single most interesting thing going on. When he has just found a smell to sniff or a pal to play with is exactly when you don't want to practice recall, til he is 100% running to you, grinning and bright-eyed, EVERY time you call him with no distractions.

One thing that can help is to get a helper who has a dog with great recall. Have the helper hold BOTH dogs by the collar (a long stay will work if both dogs have a great stay, but the collar is better because you can build excitement). Walk a few dozen yards away (getting some distance is important), make sure you have extra yummy treats in your pocket, and turn and face them, say both dogs' names, and then in your happiest, most up-beat cheerful "I'm more fun than a bucket o' monkeys" voice (make sure you use a pitch several notches higher than your normal voice) say "Comecomecomecomecomecomecome!!!" Now, most commands you only want to say once, but come is different for some reason and it helps to repeat it, excitedly. WAIT til the dog with the great recall is pulling on his collar, then have the handler let them both loose and the dog with good recall will bring a very excited Dewey with him. Repeat the comecomecome several times as they run towards you. When they reach you and touch their noses to your hand, give them several yummy smelly treats (cheese, hot dogs, liver treats) while you sing their praises. The idea is you want Dewey to think that running to you, full speed, is the bestest thing in the whole wide world. Lather, rinse, repeat, and chances are Dewey will soon think "comecomecome" is the most fun game, ever.

You can do this without a helper dog but with a helper person. Call Dewey back and forth between the two of you several times, as outlined above. Both helpers will have treats this time, and lavish the praise and treats when he comes running. Dewey should be recalling at a full gallop; he should be skidding to avoid running into you he's so excited. Don't worry yet that he is expecting a treat every time. That's fine, that's the goal at this stage of training. You can mix it up with other commands he knows so he's not anticipating which command will come next. And after a few times, you can stop holding the collar to get him pulling. The pulling was just meant to increase his frenzy to get to you.

After you've gotten him excited about running to you full speed, see if you can go out walking someplace quiet, without too many distractions. Let Dewey off-lead, and every few minutes call him to you and give him several yummy treats. Not just one, and not a normal training treat. The idea is that he knows if he comes to you he gets lavish rewards. Then release him to go back and explore, and after a few minutes call him back. What frequently happens is dogs associate "come" with "game over" and resent the command, much as you would if a loved one kept calling you away from something you were enjoying. You want him to think "comecomecome" means "I'll run to mom, I'll get a snack, and then I'll go play again!!"

The other thing you want to do is try to never call him to you when you are ready to leash him up and go home. Sometimes you have no choice, but if possible you want to catch him. Take out some treats and make a noisy show of opening them, get him while he's resting, sit down on the ground and pretend you've found something interesting. You get the idea. You don't want Dewey to associate "come" with "fun time is over" except on rare occasions.

As he improves you can switch to random rewards, or as has been said call him to you and then throw a favorite tennis ball you've hidden in your pocket or something else that's rewarding.

The leash idea is a great one too, but just a warning that some clever dogs quickly learn they can always be caught when wearing a leash, but you're too slow to catch them otherwise! Those dogs will behave perfectly when dragging a long lead, and ignore you otherwise.

Since I usually carry treats in my pocket, my dogs assume I must have something squirreled away, even when I don't. To avoid the "I won't come unless I see the treat" thing, try to make it so that you never produce the treat for him to see until AFTER you have the dog touching you. Showing the treat first as a lure is wonderful in the initial stage of training when you are shaping behavior, but after the first few efforts you should always fade the lure and switch to only producing the reward after the dog has performed.

Good luck! He'll do great.
Oh, and by the way, while you're practicing recall training, you'll probably need to cut down his food a bit to compensate for the high-calorie tasty treats you'll be stuffing his face with. :-)
Wow, Beth! Thank you so much for taking the time to give me so many great ideas to try. I am a teacher and school is just getting out for the summer (yea!!!), so I'm looking forward to having more time to work with Dewey. Hopefully, by the end of the summer I'll be able to report progress!

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