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Our young boy (7 months) goes quite a distance away from us when off leash. He only goes off leash in safe areas where I have excellent view of potential upcoming hazards so I can put him on the leash when necessary, depending where we are he'll drag the long line too. He tends to run off in front and sit or lay down, run big arcs to have a sniff/explore and come running back to us etc. He always knows where we are, sometimes when he's moving away from us we turn around and walk the opposite direction and he comes racing back to us very quickly or we'll duck down behind some long grass and he'll come to find us. He also loves the recall game, when I notice him looking towards us I stick my arms out to the side and he comes running back, I 'catch' him and he gets praise and a food treat or the ball before I release him again. Or sometimes I put him on the leash and we walk a few steps together before I let him loose again. I'm not worried about him running away or getting lost.

I've noticed when I've seen other walkers out, their border collies seem to stay much closer to them. I saw a man today who had three. One was on a leash, one was walking along next to him and one was bouncing off a few steps in front and then returning. I watched him for a while, at one point he let the leashed one off and then the two by his side did move away from him but not very far, certainly not as far as our boy goes.

Is it an age thing? Will our boy be less excited to run around and explore as he gets older? Is it a pet dog (two outside walks a day) versus working dog (out for hours everyday) thing? Is distance something I should be trying to control? And if so, how?

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It really depends on what you want. If your dog listens if you call him and doesn't get into trouble while he is away from you, I don't see anything wrong with it.
You decide the distance you are comfortable with :) 

We always taught our dogs to stay within a certain distance by calling them back when they were on our imaginary border. Or by hiding behind a tree. If you always do this at a certain distance the dog will realise how far he can go. 
It sounds like you are already doing that and your dog is responding well to it!

My dog likes to explore a bit and then walks right next to me for the rest of the walk. I have never asked her to do this. She just wants to. She is three years old now, I am not sure when she started doing this as she used to belong to my mother. I am pretty sure she didn't do this as a pup. I think age is a factor, puppies want to explore and have lots of energy. They might slow down a bit when they are older and when they learn what the boundaries are.
 

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My boy is six months old this weekend and I have just in the last week began experimenting with off leash. It really is quite good but I am positive he does not have a solid recall. For instance this afternoon I let him off leash and he walked along never more than six feet away and always looking back to see where I was. If I called his name at any point he would come to me immediately BUT!!! At one point he wandered off and looked like he was following a scent. At about twenty feet I called him but no response, thirty feet the same and on he went. Eventually had to go to him to find him eating discarded food. Gave leave it command which he obeyed then came to me. Guess I have to work on building a better recall. Any suggestions please.

Brian

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2 hours ago, Flora & Molly said:

It really depends on what you want. If your dog listens if you call him and doesn't get into trouble while he is away from you, I don't see anything wrong with it.
You decide the distance you are comfortable with :) 

We always taught our dogs to stay within a certain distance by calling them back when they were on our imaginary border. Or by hiding behind a tree. If you always do this at a certain distance the dog will realise how far he can go. 
It sounds like you are already doing that and your dog is responding well to it!

My dog likes to explore a bit and then walks right next to me for the rest of the walk. I have never asked her to do this. She just wants to. She is three years old now, I am not sure when she started doing this as she used to belong to my mother. I am pretty sure she didn't do this as a pup. I think age is a factor, puppies want to explore and have lots of energy. They might slow down a bit when they are older and when they learn what the boundaries are.
 

Thank-you. The distance does differ depending where we are, the places he goes further away are my 'safer' places. Thinking about it the places I like him to stay closer I do talk to him more. It's nice to know I might one day have a dog that potters along beside me.

25 minutes ago, brihop said:

At one point he wandered off and looked like he was following a scent. At about twenty feet I called him but no response, thirty feet the same and on he went. Eventually had to go to him to find him eating discarded food. Gave leave it command which he obeyed then came to me. Guess I have to work on building a better recall. Any suggestions please.

I just keep practicing recall when we're out, not when he's distracted following a scent but between scents or when I see him checking on me, then I praise loads and treat with food/ball and release him again. For a while I treated every time he came close enough to me, now I treat every other time he voluntarily comes to me. I keep my eyes super open, if I see something I want him to avoid we take a wide berth.

It is hard to compete with food though, or scent trails as they seem to go deaf when their brain is very focussed on something. I read somewhere that a whistle cuts through the selective deafness they get when they're distracted by something. A couple of months ago I got one. We set it at home with very high value treats, stuff he never normally gets. Then practiced very sparingly (once or twice only in a day, maybe once a week) when out in a low distraction environment and when he was on a long lead (so there was no chance of a fail) with very high value treats. One time it was put to the test, just as I was about to blow it a bird took his attention and he gave chase, as I blew the whistle he did the most amazing skidding U-turn and came back. It's quite piercing so not really practical to use all the time and I don't trust his recall vs distractions so I don't want to risk using it if there's any chance he might not respond. Also, however far away he is from me, if he sees me getting it out my pocket he's already on his way before I even manage to use it, which seems a bit pointless. I coupled blowing the whistle with opening my arms wide and crouching down, which is a big action he can see from far away. While I don't use the whistle very often, if he is looking in my direction and I do that action he comes running. The action seems more effective than a word, although obviously he has to be looking at me first.

He does seem to keep his eye on me more now than he did a couple of months ago. I'm not sure if it's a natural maturing thing or because for a while every time he was moving away from me I'd hide.

Sorry that was so long, not sure if it's helpful. I sort of feel we're only half finished with the whistle for recall but I'm not quite sure how to finish it. One day I'd love to use the whistle for a down command at distance, but I'm not sure how to start that. At the moment our recall is good enough for the places we go. Some places are long line only, some places are loose but with the leash trailing, some places are off leash but with a ball and nice treats in my pocket and some places are completely avoided.

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6 hours ago, brihop said:

At about twenty feet I called him but no response, thirty feet the same and on he went.

First thing is to never give him the opportunity to disobey the recall so he never learns it's optional. If you can't reasonably go and get him before the clear correlation between your calling him and your ability to enforce it has passed as it did in this example, then simply don't call him until you know that the recall is well proofed. Keep him on a long line or a light cord that you can catch and reel him back in with until then.

I'd never consider a pup to have a reliable off lead recall at just 6 months old. ;)

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Thanks Jami74 and GentleLake for the replies. Much appreciated and will take on your advice. All makes perfect sense to me and yes sometimes I wonder if I expect too much from a six month old. He is a fantastic little character and I will remember to give him a break and let him have fun. We live in an urban environment with plenty of traffic and people and I would really like for him to come back under any circumstances hence my reluctance to try off lead. Plenty of time to work on things.

 

Brian

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53 minutes ago, brihop said:

Thanks Jami74 and GentleLake for the replies. Much appreciated and will take on your advice. All makes perfect sense to me and yes sometimes I wonder if I expect too much from a six month old. He is a fantastic little character and I will remember to give him a break and let him have fun. We live in an urban environment with plenty of traffic and people and I would really like for him to come back under any circumstances hence my reluctance to try off lead. Plenty of time to work on things.

 

Brian

I certainly expected much too much from our boy too soon. And now he looks like a big dog I have to keep reminding myself he is still a puppy.

The long line. I didn't want one, but I caved after so many people here said I needed one. To start with I found it cumbersome and didn't really know how to use it but now we've got the hang of it and it means at up to 30 feet away if he doesn't respond I step on it and he can't go any further. I practiced a few times in the beginning standing on it and recalling him just as he was getting to the end, he quickly learnt that if I called his name I might have something important to say ;)

We're a long way from perfect, I'm not sure we ever will be, but we're having fun trying.

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Our puppy is nearly 6 months old and I have only let him off lead when my husband is with us. His recall is quite good but I have yet to let him off when I am on my own.

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7 hours ago, brihop said:

 We live in an urban environment with plenty of traffic and people and I would really like for him to come back under any circumstances hence my reluctance to try off lead. Plenty of time to work on things.

 

Brian

Just my perspective:

I would never under any circumstances allow a dog of mine off lead in an urban-people-and-traffic environment. Never. It is too dangerous. No matter how good your dog is, how solid the recall appears to be, anything could happen. A car backfires, or someone honks or yells, and your dog spooks and runs into traffic. Something runs in front of him and even though he never chased before, he does this time. A loose dog comes after your dog and chases him into the street, or attacks him a block ahead of you and you cannot get there before damage is done.  The possibilities for tragedy are endless.

Years ago I had a very well trained urban dog. I only let him off leash in a park or when we were walking in a very quiet neighborhood with very little traffic and no one around; usually at odd hours early in the morning. Even then I knew I was taking a risk, and never took my eyes off him.  These days I simply wouldn't do it at all. It is not worth the risk and I would hate myself forever if anything bad happened.

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It's not about our dogs, it's about us. Different training methods deliver different defaults. If you train on leash intending to go offleash later, you'll always feel safer with that leash. If you  treat train, you'll be uncomfortable w/o a treat bag and despite trainer brags, ecollared dogs are rarely without them.

With infrequent exceptions, sheepdog training is offlead, so that's my default. I trust my voice/body language to communicate with my dog - as does every other sheepdog handler.My dog is on lead only when I'd be arrested or unsafe/chaos creating if he weren't (hotels/motels/airports/parks/suburban sidewalks/streets okay; interstate median strips, chinatown and drag strips not).

I trust my voice as you trust your leash.My dogs wear collars for the ID tags.

As you begin, so shall you go.

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5 hours ago, Donald McCaig said:

It's not about our dogs, it's about us. Different training methods deliver different defaults. If you train on leash intending to go offleash later, you'll always feel safer with that leash. If you  treat train, you'll be uncomfortable w/o a treat bag and despite trainer brags, ecollared dogs are rarely without them.

With infrequent exceptions, sheepdog training is offlead, so that's my default. I trust my voice/body language to communicate with my dog - as does every other sheepdog handler.My dog is on lead only when I'd be arrested or unsafe/chaos creating if he weren't (hotels/motels/airports/parks/suburban sidewalks/streets okay; interstate median strips, chinatown and drag strips not).

I trust my voice as you trust your leash.My dogs wear collars for the ID tags.

As you begin, so shall you go.

My first dog was off lead and untreated. It was a long time ago and I suspect that I've forgotten most of his first year of life as I only remember a dog who did anything and everything I asked, always giving a 100%. The reward he strived for was my praise and my company. I didn't teach him to walk on a leash but he knew how to walk close to me when I asked him to, so I just clipped it on him when we went into town. Maybe I didn't take him into town until he was much bigger. As an adult dog I could take him anywhere. He came to the pub after work and quietly melted into the carpet at my feet, he came to the bank and learnt to look menacingly at people when I had wads of cash on me, he could wait outside a building for me if necessary (not tied up) and he accompanied me to auctions and shows and nearly everywhere I went.

I wish it could have been this way with my young boy. In the beginning I thought it would be, I carried him across the roads when he was small and plopped him down on the grass. But I realised quickly that it was different because with my first dog, there were no busy roads between us and where we wanted to go. There had been very few fences, traffic was occasional and slow (someone arriving or leaving) and there certainly weren't people dressed up in fluorescent clothing running past us on narrow paths or bicycles appearing out of nowhere whooshing past us. Other dogs were working dogs, I don't remember there being many arguments between them. With this dog a ten minute car ride gives us miles and miles of open fields and woods, rivers and beaches, but getting there involves needing a lead from the house to the car, restraint in the car (no standing in the back of the pick-up with the wind in his face) and more lead walking a safe distance from the car park. It's no wonder when I let him off he runs and runs. My first dog never really ran around crazy like that, but then he'd never really been shut inside, he knew to conserve his energy. I wish it was different with this dog, it feels so artificial to take him out for exercise and then have to practice asking him to come back to me :( . And I wished I'd never used food treats, but then this dog lives in a much busier, nosier and more restrictive world than my first dog so I'm constantly having to compete with distractions for his attention.

For a pet dog he's got a pretty good life, but I do wish my life was such that I still lived on a farm somewhere in the middle of nowhere. 

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Hi again, Maybe I wasn't too clear. My point was that I am very reluctant to let my dog off leash because we live in an urban environment. He is on the lead at all times when close to a road or a busy place. He sits without asking whenever we come to a road crossing and waits to be released to cross the road. We have worked a great deal on acclimatising him to the traffic and people he meets every day.

The off leash I was referring too is always well away from roads along pathways and parks but a we all know there are distractions ( Foxes, Squirrels, discarded food, other dogs etc.) that can grab his attention at any point. So far he has shown good control in listening to me when off leash to the point where he stopped at my calling his name when on his way to meet another dog. As mentioned in my previous post he did follow a scent trail and lost his focus on me. It is that situation I need to work on but he is only six months and we have plenty of time to develop our relationship.

Hope this clears things up a little and thanks to all for your replies. I really appreciate all the kind information you guys make available.

Brian

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On 10/29/2018 at 5:09 PM, jami74 said:

this dog lives in a much busier, nosier and more restrictive world than my first dog

Alas. The busy new world ever expands, restricting dog and human alike.

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Jami74, your lovely old dog, yes I have one exactly the same as your old boy.  A bit of a lad when he was young of course, now I have a new 5 month old, and cannot for the life of me remember how I trained Dodi, who is now 14.  Have never had a problem with Doe, walks to heel, waits, keeps his eye on me and nary a word spoken. Fits in quietly wherever we find ourselves. At 10 weeks old, he saw his first cat and the lightbulb went on.  I bellowed NO! And to my surprise and gratitude has never chased anything with a pulse since.  So sheep, cows, cats, rabbits, squirrels - you name it are all safe with us.  A blessing when we're walking along lanes and have no idea what's in the field behind our banks and hedges, where a speedy foray through the hedge could result in the ringing tones of a shotgun. But I tend not to speak to my dogs too much, just the essential, and a 'Good Boy' from time to time.

Twice over the years, to my surprise each time, he has challenged a stranger when we have been in remote areas alone, very fierce and loud, teeth on display, lips back, the body language.  Strangers  promptly hurried away. My hero!  I guess a lot of work went into his puppyhood, so I must remember that whatever I put into this new little guy will reap its rewards in the end.  I do remember though, that lead training was a nightmare for some weeks, Never used lunging rein, clickers or treats. He did what I asked because I was top dog and he wanted to please and serve. But yeah, we've had our moments...

In retrospect, the first and best thing I ever taught him was the WAIT.  He'll drop on the spot even now.  I've had to use it once or twice over the years in emergencies that I was careless enough not to forsee, and been grateful for it.  If I throw a ball across a field and he goes hell for leather after it, I shout wait, and he almost somersaults to stop.

 

 

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4 hours ago, dumbbird7 said:

Jami74, your lovely old dog, yes I have one exactly the same as your old boy.  A bit of a lad when he was young of course, now I have a new 5 month old, and cannot for the life of me remember how I trained Dodi, who is now 14. 

Yes! How did we do it? Surely it was the way we did it and not just luck?

4 hours ago, dumbbird7 said:

 But I tend not to speak to my dogs too much, just the essential, and a 'Good Boy' from time to time.

I'm trying to do this. I've noticed I start drivelling on in some situations (exactly the situations that I want him to listen and respond) and it definitely dulls his hearing and responses.

On ‎10‎/‎29‎/‎2018 at 4:22 PM, Donald McCaig said:

As you begin, so shall you go.

It's so obvious when you say it like that! Mindset changed.

4 hours ago, dumbbird7 said:

In retrospect, the first and best thing I ever taught him was the WAIT.  He'll drop on the spot even now.  I've had to use it once or twice over the years in emergencies that I was careless enough not to forsee, and been grateful for it.  If I throw a ball across a field and he goes hell for leather after it, I shout wait, and he almost somersaults to stop.

We're working on this one. Works well in low distractions or when he's focussed on me, wouldn't work if he was chasing a ball though. Any special tips, or just keep practicing?

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jami74, I'm now training pup to do the 'wait' business.  Just walking on lead, then the 'wait' command.  We stop just long enough to let it sink in, then off we go again.  This is one of the easiest lessons I find.  There is a difference with us, though, between stop and stay.  Haven't got as far as the stay yet.  

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6 hours ago, dumbbird7 said:

jami74, I'm now training pup to do the 'wait' business.  Just walking on lead, then the 'wait' command.  We stop just long enough to let it sink in, then off we go again.  This is one of the easiest lessons I find.  There is a difference with us, though, between stop and stay.  Haven't got as far as the stay yet.  

Ah, I'm doing similar with a down command, which he has to stay in until I release. Like you, only a few seconds and then we move on again. 

Wait and Stay definitely had different meanings with my old dog but I suspect that comes down the line.

Wait I use when putting his food down, or when opening a door. It sort of means pause until I unpause you. 

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Hi All, My six month old is really good at wait. I gave up on stay as the two commands are so similar I thought it was confusing him. He will wait until released for dinner, crossing the road, a treat thrown on the floor and going through doors.

BUT!!! I wonder from reading the other posts if "wait" can be incorporated into a recall? Just wondering if I train down and wait to be strong commands would they work as a precursor to recall??

I have been reading the book "control Unleashed" and it seems various commands can be linked to form one action. Really have to get my act together and work on this lol. For the second time he wandered too far away from me following a food scent and refused recall. Fortunately this was in a park where he couldn't get himself into too much trouble but still I really need to work on this. I know I cannot allow him to ignore my call so want to work on building a solid response to any command.

Hope I haven't rambled on too much.

 

Brian

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I think a good "leave it" command helps when food is involved. If the dog is trained to leave toys/food/etc at home he will understand what you mean during a walk when he is following a scent. 

I have a couple of commands I use similar to "leave it". I mostly use "drop it" which came in handy when Molly found some bread in the park. She dropped it and I called her to me. 
Another one is "move on" where I want her to move on from whatever she is doing. I started this when I taught her to run next to the bike off leash (in safe areas obviously) and she would sometimes stop in front of the bike. It is also useful when she is hanging back sniffing something or wants to roll in something. I tell her to move on.

You could also use wait, but your dog might not expect to have to come back, because wait is usually used to wait before the dog can do something. But hey, Border collies are smart :) so it might not be an issue. I am amazed how well my dog understands context for instance. When I ask her to lie down during a walk or when playing fetch she knows I mean "right now and exactly where you are", but when I ask her to lie down in the house when I am working she knows I mean "wherever you want as long as you settle down". 

The most important thing is to choose something that works for you. Whether it is "leave it" or "wait"  or something else.

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This an old thread but have just come across it and thought I'd throw in my penny'worth...

Difference between wait and stay in our house -'

wait while I untie your leash', while I open the car door'  until we can cross'.

Stay is stay while I go into the shop,  while I'm in the library,  until I'm ready to go.

Wait is quick, stay is longer.  

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