Being indoors with Bertie, Cocker Spaniel/Poodle cross (Cockerpoo), it is hard to image him running off on a walk to worry sheep, or turning up chased by a farmer and with blood all over him. If the farmer had had a gun, Berite would now be dead.
He looks like pure Cocker, though there must be Poodle in there somewhere. He has a sweet temperament and is very obedient in the house. His owners have been very conscientious and thoughtful in training him.
Bertie is an example of ‘outside in’ versus ‘inside out’. His actions are largely regulated by human commands which means, at the end of the day and out on a walk with sheep about, he has the option of ignoring their calls for him to come back.
Encouraging Bertie to work out for himself what’s required, without commands, is the theme that needs to run through his daily life at home. He will also need to learn that whatever commands/requests are made of him, they are given once only.
As soon as the lead comes out Bertie changes into a different dog. He is very excited and pulls out of the gate. He has to be held back and corrected as he walks down the road. Off lead his recall is excellent – so long as he wants to come back and there is nothing else he would rather do.
Basic lead work so that they have an attentive dog is a must in the first instance. The owners need to work on making walking and being with them a joy, because a tight lead and constant correction can’t make being with them very rewarding. He needs to be walking by them nicely because he wants to (‘inside out’) not through force (‘outside in’). He should have little or no freedom from a long line until he is conditioned to coming back straight away, pronto, no second call – whatever the distraction. Work will be done beside fields with sheep.
Recall relies upon a command. Giving a command always gives the option for refusal. Conditioning Bertie to come instantly to a whistle instead, making a whistle a prompt for him to automatically react by returning immediately, is going to be the way forward.
This could take months. Having now chased sheep twice, the second time ending in blood, Bertie is not going to stop now without some serious hard work.
A dog denied off lead freedom for as long as it takes is better than a dead dog.