Rolo is also a law unto himself! This isn’t too important at home, but it has become very important out on walks where he refuses to come back until he is ready – this can be a long time. He likes to freelance, which involves playing with any dog he can find, chasing off after distant dogs, and jumping up all over people. He also may lie down and go on strike if they’re not going in the direction he chooses. Consequently he is no longer let off lead.
He has been to training classes for eighteen months, so it’s not that he doesn’t understand what ‘Come’ means. It is that he chooses not to!
At home I soon noticed that he quietly did his own thing when called. He doesn’t come eagerly or promptly. He may simply look and walk away, he may stand and stare as if to say ‘try again’ or he may go and fetch something first. When I called him and he slowly came, he stood back a little so I had to lean to him and this is not because he’s shy! If he can get all the attention he wants anyway, when he wants it, there is little incentive for him to come when asked.
Good recall when out needs to start at home. It is not likely that he will come back when out with all the exciting distractions if when he is called from across the room he simply walks away!
The family need to learn to be more relevant. This is nothing to do with love, but respect. He needs to earn some of their attention. They need to show him that if they call him it is once only, and then after that if he wanders up in his own good time saying ‘I’m ready now’, their reaction is ‘Sorry, too late’. He also needs to learn that coming running immediately is going to be rewarding.
Only with the homework in place will they be ready to start on outdoor recall. Freedom is a thing for the future. There must be no more opportunities to practise freelancing.
With a structured plan in place, patiently working for weeks or even months until recall when called or whistled is automatic and programmed into him, against a background of work at home, Rolo should be ready to be let off lead. He should end up being a joy to walk.