View Full Version : why does she run off????

16th February 2009, 03:33 PM
My ruby is well behaved in the home, she comes to call, sits, lies down, rolls over and generally listens to what i say. but when it comes to walking shes great on her lead but when i let her off she runs off in bushes, chases birds, doesnt come back to call and the walk ends up in a search. Ive tryed almost everything i take balls squeky toys treats and she still wont come back!
Advice would be most welcome

16th February 2009, 03:59 PM
how old is she? If she is just a puppy, a bit more off leash training would help a great deal. I remember one instance when Ilsa was a pup I lost her for an hour in central park, she was chasing a squirrel. I had thought she was well trained (and underestimated her speed). In the end I was calling her hysterically and she came back to me happy and thirsty, curious why I was so upset. I didn't let her off lead again for a year, and tried tried to retrain her to come. It's difficult but as city dwellers I know she needs to run off leash in the park, and the dog runs are filled with large, dirty dogs and I don't take her in those places.

She is fine now and always stays where I can see her. If you have a puppy I'd say she just needs more training and isn't ready to be off leash in an unsecured area. If she's an adult, I don't know, but she probably needs more work on recall as well.

Jen and Ilsa

16th February 2009, 04:01 PM
do you used a fixed lead or one that expands? Amanda used to be like that, but I went out and get an expandable lead. I keep it really close, but then give a command and release it. She can run up to like 30ft from me and then I give the recall. took a little bit but amanda figured out that if I let her run around whereever and then came within a few seconds of calling she gets to sleep with me instead of the crate...and up here in COLD PA she LOVES the bed with blankets.

16th February 2009, 04:12 PM
I know what you are going through. I have the same problem with my Rosie. I always managed to get her back but last year I lost her for two hours in a 70 acre wood. I thought I never see her again and it was only luck that someone found her exhausted under a bush. My other dog run of with her but turned around and came back to me but Rosie just kept running. The problem is that once her nose hits the ground that is it she just runs. In the home, garden, obedience class she listens really well. I tried training her slowly on a training lead, I tried treats.
I am interested to see what other people suggest.

16th February 2009, 04:34 PM
I did train her off lead in a fenced in area outside by making her follow me using her treats as bait. If she didn't listen I'd put her back on the leash and put her treat away while she was watching. I'm too soft to yell at her so it took a while but it did work. She understood eventually that if she didn't come when called she wouldn't get to run free at all. You have to be vigilant and make sure you catch them not listening quickly before they start going at full speed.

I often wish she had a yard but now we can enjoy the park properly. Especially in the city where parks have streets going through them. So dangerous! Now if she starts going she understands the command "wait", and I go catch up with her, (or put her on lead if she's near a street), so she knows she can still go play where she wants as the park is her time.

Jen and Ilsa

16th February 2009, 04:38 PM
shes one year old, and a few months ago she was fine off lead, never went too far away always came back but just recently shes got all cocky thinking she can do as she wishes. I deffinatly think alot more recall training is needed, there is a great advice thing on this site so am going to use that and just keep trying. I use a fixed lead at the minute, will consider getting a expandable one. Its just so frustraring when she was fine off lead before, and i panic alot when she goes misssing in the bushes. Any further advice would be greate and im glad to hear im not the only cav owner with this problem becasue it makes me feel like a lousy trainer. But i am going to keep trying i so want her to be let off lead safely becasue she loves it.

Daisy's Mom
16th February 2009, 05:07 PM
Daisy is the exact same way. I cannot trust her off-lead. She will follow her nose or eyes to anything interesting, completely heedless of cars, big mean dogs, etc. I just can't risk it. I hate that because my past dogs have always just stayed with me, with really no training to speak of. Daisy is just very different from them. We've been through Obedience I,II, and III, but she just is not trustworthy. I'd love to find a huge, fenced-in safe area where I could work with her on her recall, but I just haven't found such an area.

The other day she slipped out the garage door that was inadvertently left open. I panicked, of course and ran outside when I noticed the open door. She was across the street sniffing in the neighbor's yard, thank God! I said "Daisy, Treat!" and she came at a flat-out run straight to me, which impressed me a lot! Sometimes I think she may warrant a bit more trust from me than I give her, but if something happened to her, I would never forgive myself. She used to have a horrible car-chasing habit, which I have mostly cured, but every once in a while on our walks, she will still jump toward a passing car. That scares me to death that she would literally throw herself under the wheels of the first passing car if she were off-leash. She knows no fear of any moving object -- they are all prey to her.

Good luck to you and let us know what works if you get her figured out.

16th February 2009, 05:24 PM
I would go back to basics if I were you.

Get a long line (a 60' horse line would be ideal) and keep her on the line. Let her have some freedom and then call her back, reeling her back in so to speak.

An incentive would be a reward of warm sausage, baked liver, ham etc - something very desirable.

She's probably being a teenager. Marlon went through a phase like that between about 9 - 13 months old and everything he learned he unlearned!

16th February 2009, 05:48 PM
My only complaint about Cavaliers is their general inability to be trained not to run away when off lead. I have one I can let off, but she is super lazy. The other two...unless we are in the woods somewhere, there's NO CHANCE. Even if they were trained well on recall, i would NEVER let them off lead where there were other people, dogs, or cars. NEVER.

16th February 2009, 09:42 PM
Yea the horse rope is GREAT my mum uses them when she was training our pointers and labs for upland bird hunting.

I would try also to get her used to being outside where there is no fence. Fences teach them where they can go and are forced to stop. Amanda was a bit like that when she came to me, but I did all my training in the front yard so that I could teach her about streets. Cavs really have NO street smarts. By being outside without a fence she learned that if she stayed close to me she could do alot more and go more places. I would try your training in the front yard so that you can teach your pup that the street is bad.

Hope that helps.

16th February 2009, 11:10 PM
Your pup has hit that lovely, boundary pushing adolescence we all know and love! We also went from a great recall to no recall with Maddie around that age. We used a long line (30ft) - a friend managed to find a nice light one with a small clip so that it wasn't too heavy from her collar. We also worked on finding a toy that she would focus on. For her it was a golf ball. Luckily she didn't ever want to catch it (I dread to think what that would do to her teeth :eek:) but would chase after it and bring it back. We usually took 3 balls out with us, so when she'd got one we had others to tempt her back with. Eventually we graduated onto a chukka-ball, which is 2 golf ball size tennis balls (if that makes sense?) on a bungee rope. She loves this toy so much that it doesn't matter where we are - if the toy is there she stays completely focussed. :rah:

It took us a long time to get to the point where we trust her off lead (and I never would around cars/ roads even now), probably 9 - 12 months of long line training, but it was completely worth it.

The other thing I did was whistle train the re-call, so that she didn't react to the tone of voice (happy, panicked, anxious, angry, irritated etc.) but to the command. That has worked fairly well with her, but brilliantly with Pippin. And we used plenty of treats as rewards, usually saving something really good for when we're out and about that she doesn't get any other time.

Also, having got an ok recall, we don't take it for granted. She's 4 yrs old now, and still has the potential to have selective deafness :D so I reinforce the recall, going back to some basic training, just to remind her that I am a fun person to be with! Much more fun than all those smells, squirrels, rabbits etc. :)

16th February 2009, 11:52 PM
Mindy ran off once when she was just about 10 months old. She was chasing something in the bush. Like some of the others I thought I'd never see her again. It took me nine years to get the nerve to let her off leash again. I've called her back from chasing a rabbit and she came - I was impressed. I can't forsee letting Max off leash for quite some time. We have lots of things here for him to smell and hunt. Right now he doesn't have a good recall in the back yard so we have a ways to go.

17th February 2009, 01:09 AM
Recall is one of the harder things to train in part because it really requires constant practice and people tend to forget this and only expect the dog to come when called every now and then. Daily practice helps! Not just when you are on a walk. I'd suggest using either a long lead or an extensa lead until you KNOW she is reliable on recall -- her life may depend on it! Carry a pocket full of treats and regularly call her and treat and praise when she retuens. Never ever scold or punish for not returning or if you have to go get her -- as that only has to happen a few times for her to be trained to avoid returning to you as you are unpredictable in behaviour and sometimes reward, sometimes punish (this is a key mistake many people make!). Also use opportunities every day to call her and treat, call her and treat -- at mealtimes, while watching TV, out in the garden etc. :)

In the training sites pinned at the top of the training section there is loads of advice at each site on training recall.

Also see:




17th February 2009, 09:48 AM
The other thing I do with mine is to put their leads on a few times during the walk, then let them off again. This way they have learnt that the lead doesn't mean the end of the walk and the end of their fun, so if they see it in my hand they aren't reluctant to come to me. And of course, they get rewarded when they come. We made lots of mistakes with Maddie's recall when she was young, and basically had to re-train from scratch, as well as eradicating bad habits. :( One of the many mistakes was to try and phase out the food rewards too soon and too quickly. But we live and learn, and we didn't make the same mistakes with Pippin. Different ones, but not the same. :p

17th February 2009, 02:28 PM
I have tried everything with Rosie. As soon as I take the lead of she is gone. She is very food orientated but on a walk it doesn’t matter even if I would get a whole chicken out of my coat pocket she doesn’t care. At home the garden and in obedience class she is perfect. I tried her on a 30ft training lead, she is perfect on that, listens and stops straight away and comes back to me. She knows she is on the lead. About 40 min from where we live is a lovely place where I can let her of the lead as everything is enclosed. That’s the only place I let her of the lead, after loosing her for two hours before I won’t risk it anywhere else.

17th February 2009, 05:10 PM
I would love to be able to let Sally off the lead more often but I just don't like to risk it. I'm just too scared she'll take off and go under a car or towards a nasty dog. I tend to stick to longer walks on the lead at a fast pace. It's ashame because I know she loves to run but I would never forgive myself if anything happened to her :luv:. There is only one field a few miles from here where we let her off lead for a good run and thats only when my OH and I both go. I'd love to play fetch with a ball with both Sally and Lois in our garden but I've tried and tried and they dont seem to get the hang of it. What is the best way to teach fetch? This would be good exercise

17th February 2009, 06:34 PM
Well neither Mindy or Zeus (our retriever)ever liked to play ball so I set out to teach Max and it seems to be working. :xfngr: First of all, the ball itself is important. Max had absolutely no interest in the mini tennis balls. I bought a really flimsy rubber ball with a big squeaker and got him interested by squeaking. I rolled it a little bit and when he brought it back I gave him a treat. It didn't take too long with the treats and he realized that it was a fun game on it's own. I then progressed to tossing the ball and letting him chase it. On the advice of Mindy's agility instructor he only gets the ball when we are playing together. Lately I've got a little red rubber ball made of kong like material so he can chew on it as well. We play ball in the house so far because it's been too cold to be outside for the most part. I do have to add that last weekend when we had nice weather I tried to play ball outside and he was too busy running around the yard to pay any attention to the ball.

Mindy will NOT play ball (she's a princess you know). She will however go and find the ball for Max if he looses sight of it and nose it for him. (She used to get a treat when he brought back the ball too - so it was in her own best interest). I think she might have played when she was younger but our Retriever was pretty excitable and she probably felt that she'd stay out of his path and let him take the ball (he'd only take it - never return it). Hope that might work for you.

Kate H
17th February 2009, 08:16 PM
Oliver likes hunting and occasionally disappears after a squirrel or rabbit - but never stays away very long. A piece of advice which made a great difference to his coming back was given me by an experienced trainer. When your dog disappears, your instinct is to stay still and keep calling, so that the dog can find you again. But from the dog's point of view, this can in fact encourage them to stay away longer - 'I can still hear her, so she's not far away, I'm not going to get lost, so I'll just chase this rabbit for a bit longer.' The advice was to call once, loudly and firmly, and start walking slowly away; dog then thinks; 'Uh-oh, she seems to have gone away and left me, I'd better go and find her.' It works very well with Oliver!

Teenage in most breeds means they behave as if they've never learnt anything in their lives - but also we underestimate the temptations of the great outdoors. Doing a good recall in class or at home doesn't prepare dogs for doing the same in the midst of temptation - all those sights, smells, things to investigate, other dogs. They need to relearn on a long line, with plenty of praise and super treats to make coming to you more fun than anything else in the park. Then they'll be ready to go off-lead.

Kate, Oliver and Aled

21st February 2009, 10:59 PM
:)thanks all of you for the advice, its great to hear im not the only one with thiis problem. Ive taken her out since with treats and she was brilliant and didnt run away once, i kept calling and treating her and she really responded and came back every time. I am going to continue with recall training and keept reminding her like at tv time and dinner time like was said before. Im really greatful for all the advice

22nd February 2009, 01:22 AM
I know how you feel! My grans cavalier goes off like a shot anytime she's off the lead or even see's an open door. It's made me terrified to let my own dog off the lead in case she won't come back!

22nd February 2009, 01:33 AM
I had to shovel snow from the driveway after work yesterday (believe me I'm NOT impressed). I put Max on the flexible lead and attached it to my belt and just left Mindy out since she has SUCH GOOD recall........... I was talking to my neighbour and was mentioning that Mindy seemed to be slowing down a bit with age and no sooner had I said that then she took off like a flash to another yard on the street and started zooming around. The neighbour said "Well she doesn't look too slow to me". Little brat didn't come right away but luckily she didn't run out of sight and she did come fairly shortly. She must have been saving up all that energy for a couple of days. We live on a court with only a few houses and several small kids so people are really careful but all the same I'm glad she didn't wander out of my sight.

22nd February 2009, 01:35 AM
Please don't laugh, but I trained 6 cats ( yes cats, not cavs) to come in whenever I whistle.... I only ever let them out just before mealtimes, first on leashes and then without. From being small kittens they associated whistling with going in the house and getting a slap up meal. Now they come whenever I whistle the 'special whistle'.... though it usually IS before a meal, and I guess you would end up with one fat dog if you did that every time ;)

Daisy's Mom
22nd February 2009, 04:23 AM
I followed an earlier poster's advice about training in an unfenced area with a long lead. I have about a 20 ft. canvas lead. I took Daisy in the front yard twice in the last couple of days and she did really, really well. She never offered to run away even once. I ended up doing lots of heeling, downs from far away with a hand signal, and lots and lots of stays and comes, all without even holding the lead at all. She did so well, I was just proud as punch. No dogs or cars came by during all of this, though, so it wasn't her most challenging distractions by any means.

The only rub is that she will do these things pretty reliably for treats, but in an emergency if I'm without a treat, I don't know how it would work out. But at least I've got enough renewed hope that I'm working on things with her again.

We've always been good at not letting her bolt out the door when we go out for walks, and she's awesome at waiting till I say OK, but when there is a person at the door, she wants to run out and see them and I'm always afraid if I let her go out on the porch to say hi like she wants, she might then see a car or a dog out on the road and bolt.

22nd February 2009, 04:03 PM
Its been good to read all the posts here & realise that the problem of dogs running off is common to many of you, i thought it was just me & my harry!
Harry was coming on just fine his recall was good & walks out with him running off the lead were such a pleasure for me & him. But sadly he has run off now on quite a few occasions sometimes staying in vision but totally ignoring any calls from us, sometimes disappearing from view for what seems like forever which is so scary. It has come to the point that i,m just too scared to let him off now. I am determined to crack this, the advice i have been reading here is great & i,m putting a lot into practice. But i know from past experience that harry will behave perfectly for weeks but how can i ever get over the fear that on one of the walks he will just take off again? I feel the problem is as much with me as it is with Harry. Harry is still less than 2 years old is this something that should improve as he gets older? :confused:

23rd February 2009, 12:21 AM
It will only improve from training and regular practice and making sure not to make common mistakes like scolding a dog when he finally returns -- or when you go get him when he hasn;t returned. Doing either simply teaches a dog that sometimes you randomly get angry or punish and make him wary of returning at all-- yet it is so common to see people giving out to their dogs for not coming on recall! There are some great advice articles on recall in the training sites pinned in the training section.

Some dogs are just poor on recall, full stop. Really with an unreliable dog, you'd be better getting a long flexilead for the times when you are somewhere safe for him to wander off yet still be under control. Or by a 25m long lead used by trainers -- tough a Flexi is easier to manage for a small breed like a cavalier. You need to know he is reliable *before* allowing him offlead and that means more than a week of good results; it does take time and practice. Like housetraining it is easy to assume the dog is trained when he really isn't!

Of course a dog should never be off lead in areas around roads -- any dog no matter how well trained will have something that can tempt him to run off unexpectedly and it needs just one slip-up to be dead -- and this is never worth the risk. :thmbsup: Save the Flexi or off lead walks for trained dogs to areas far from roads or other unsafe places.