View Full Version : Distracted Recall

23rd July 2009, 10:14 AM
hi, I'm new and wanted to share this problem with you, and see if you could help.
I have a 1 year old cavalier called Rudie and wow he loves his walks! But when we let him off the lead in our local park, he just won't come back to me, and even if he is running towards me, he just gets distracted. He gets really distracted and I've tried everything, I'm now trying a whistle. Do you have any tips, please?


23rd July 2009, 04:22 PM
We tried recal training with Leo and gave up:bang:

I dont let him off anymore as it isnt worth the stress it causes all concerned and Im worried about his safety.
I bought a recall lead....which is about 20ft long and when we're over the forest I use that.

Good luck on what ever you decide


23rd July 2009, 04:32 PM
Jasper is now 9 yrs, but as a pup we went to puppy classes and his recall was dreadful, we can`t let him of the lead and I just won`t take the chance with him, he has very bad concentration, windy days, leaves flying about, feathers etc he just darts all over the place, sorry can`t offer any tips, could do with some, but guess he`s too old to change now.:)

23rd July 2009, 04:37 PM
I can only allow one of mine off-lead. The other two are completely insane when they are not on a leash and scare me to death as they are oblivious to me and totally distracted. One time on the beach, I let them off lead and Winston ran about 3/4 a mile down, stopping to talk to everyone in his path. I saw him run up to the boardwalk and by the time I caught up to him, he was in the parking lot! It could have been a major disaster. So no more.

23rd July 2009, 04:43 PM
Harley used to be excellent off lead, its not as though he comes back, he just wouldnt leave my side, since he has been on rymadyl if he sees a rabbit, (and there are lots where i walk on farm land) he is off, and several times i couldnt find him for some time, and once he ran straight off towards the main road, its just so heart rending i keep him on the lead now. di

23rd July 2009, 05:52 PM
well thanks anyways guys!

23rd July 2009, 05:58 PM
I started doing recall with Max in the house - then on a long lead even before we went to puppy class. I always give high value rewards for recall. When I do let him off leash I recall him back a couple of times right away and reward and praise him well so he knows it's worth his while. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that Mindy has good recall. Occasionally we'll go out and he seems distracted so if he doesn't pass the initial recall test he goes back on the lead. He's only 10 months old though so as he gets more independent it might become more of a challenge. I find it's important to be aware of both Max's state of mind and the surroundings. One day we were walking the dogs in an area where they are usually allowed off lead but we saw four gophers just sitting in the middle of the trail within the space of five minutes so decided it was best that both dogs stay on lead.

23rd July 2009, 07:22 PM
Recalls are bad enough with the leash. I don't dare let our Cav off-lead. I would never see her again! This breed is not known for its obedience prowess. :rolleyes:

23rd July 2009, 08:58 PM
Oh sure they are good at obedience! :) It may be that the method or approach to training isn't succeeding, or that far more practice is needed (recall takes small steps and dedication and patience), or that the dog is actually hard of hearing (teaching a hand sign often is a lot less ambiguous to a dog), or something else interfering with the dog 'getting it'.

It is so easy to accidentally send the wrong message to a dog when training so any specific command is good to read up on carefully or do it in a class. Remember never to scold a dog for not returning on recal -- this just teaches the dog that it is better not to come back. That is probably the single most common mistake I see -- people scolding a dog that has run off. Bu the dog won't ever make the connection -- instead it just thinks it is being punished for returning.

There's lots of good recall advice at www.dogstardaily.com and advice as well at all the training links pinned in the training section.

I'd never let a dog off lead that isn't reliable on recall -- it isn't worth the risk IMHO.

23rd July 2009, 09:00 PM
It takes a lot of hard work and at least 3 months to build a good recall...but worth it if you are prepared to put in the work.

There's a good article here


if they can get good recalls with Pyreneans, then it should work for Cavaliers!!

You can never make yourself more interesting than whatever your Cavalier wants to investigate - other dogs, smells, something to roll in:eek: but you can train them so that coming back is 2nd nature.

Good luck

23rd July 2009, 09:21 PM
We have this problem too! (we have gone to classes since he came to us at 18 weeks). Bob loves to run and chase birds! He is now three and is only let off in a couple of safe places and then only if I'm on my own as I have to watch him and get my 'leave it' in before he thinks about it! (if he gets flighty he's back on the lead). When he was one I was convinced I would never be able to have him off lead at all. I am still very carefull with him I would rather he was on a lead and safe than risk his 'bird brain'!
What I do is I carry treats at all times, he is given a treat if he comes as soon as I call (I do this on lead and off), if he hesitates or gets distracted but eventually comes, he gets a 'good boy' and no treat, if not I say 'oh dear' and the treat gets put away. I will then make an 'easy recall' where I watch to make sure he's not distracted and then call, make a fuss and then he gets his treat.
One thing I've worked very hard at is getting him attached to 'my toy' (and my being very exciting of course!!!). This is an old walking sock that has a squeaky tennis ball in it (the sock is then knotted) which is only played with on our walks. 'Socky' gets taken on every walk and we play alot with it (even on lead walks). It did take alot of very small games where I would get it out of my pocket play with it for a couple of seconds, even without him taking much notice and then put it away again. I was so excited the first time he played tug in the park I wrote it on my calendar!
We play fetch with it so he gets to chase and 'kill' (I get people laughing at him doing this as he circles and twirls it around his head like a mad thing! while making all the sound effects!). When I tell him to 'leave' a bird I can now get him to redirect his energy to playing tug with the sock.
Another plus to this toy is that when he gets out of the car all excited for his walk he will tug which actually has the side effect of stopping him barking! I love 'socky'!
Good luck!

23rd July 2009, 09:52 PM
thanks guys! I'll try really hard.

23rd July 2009, 11:14 PM
I love the approach of bringing along 'socky'! That's really funny, and a great toy idea too. Also a good way to add a bit longer life to a demolished squeaky toy perhaps.

It's a great idea to have a special toy that only comes out for special playtimes or walks, especially with really active dogs. With Jaspar I've always had a special fetch toy that goes on walks and that is the only time he gets to play with it. I like toys/balls on a rope and more recently, the smaller size 'Chuck-it' ball thrower.

24th July 2009, 12:25 AM
I would argue that Cavaliers are excellent obedience dogs because they want to please so badly. I love the socky idea. We have special training toys but I like the idea of a special walk toy.

24th July 2009, 11:22 AM
Our Cavalier isn't too focused on pleasing us. :rolleyes: The software in her brain is wired for wanting things her way, and she would love to be a spoiled brat with us as her minions. We're having none of that, though, and it's a constant challenge. Our Shih Tzu was so easy to train and wanting to please, so there lies the balance in life. Each dog is different.

24th July 2009, 12:34 PM
Our Cavalier isn't too focused on pleasing us. :rolleyes: The software in her brain is wired for wanting things her way, and she would love to be a spoiled brat with us as her minions. We're having none of that, though, and it's a constant challenge. Our Shih Tzu was so easy to train and wanting to please, so there lies the balance in life. Each dog is different.

Oh, indeed, they are all SOooo different! My experience with Cavaliers and Shih-tzus is the exact opposite of Waldor's, as a result of which poor little Lucy is now known in our household as "The Shiddy Monster!":dgwlk:

Still, she is only 12 months old, so we keep battling on, thanks in great part to the patience and goodwill of her 3 older Cavalier "sisters" and all the marvellous hints and tips gleaned on this Forum.

Keep them coming! :thnku:

24th July 2009, 05:35 PM
Well I guess I'm incredibly lucky because both Mindy and Max love to please (as opposed to my Golden who was a very stubborn boy).

24th July 2009, 09:35 PM
Thank you for your nice replys re 'socky', I will be looking out for cavalier owners with balls in old socks now!
I would say that Bob is very interested/excited by the world and so I have alot to compete with! I also love that he is like this.
I have looked after a friends Cav who is a year younger and she is nothing like Bob, very placid, keeps close, and strangely clean on all walks! Bob on the other hand will walk for miles, head down sniffing, running about, his coat picking up all grass seeds, sticks and mud. Which I then have to spend ages brushing out!
Mostly it's about communication, getting him to understand what I am asking him to do, I don't know if he is trying to please me as such. We have recently started clicker training which has helped so much (both with our training and our bond). Bit of a boast - he can now retrieve a dumbell and sit to give it to me! Woo Hoo! Before he would only bark madly at it.