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I walk my dog thrice daily. During the night walk I unleash her and let her play on the lawn with other dogs (we live in a Kibbutz, and unleashing a dog late at night is acceptable). She is extremely happy when I unleash her and I want to keep doing that.

The problem is that sometimes - usually the night before an important presentation at work - she plays hide-and-seek with me, and it can take up to an hour to find her.

What's the best way to find a dog?

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let her do the finding –  ratchet freak Mar 9 at 17:35
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I would remove the "unleashed" part of the question. It is obvious the dog is not just at the other end of the leash... –  Cedric H. Mar 9 at 18:20
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The most important command for every dog to know and obey is Here, or whatever word is used for the dog to come to its owner. The question should be; How do I properly train a dog to come when called? –  Esa Paulasto Mar 9 at 21:37
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7 Answers 7

So your dog has learnt that the command "come here" or "here" means run away?

Remember your dog does not speak your language by mouth!

I believe in positive reinforcement.

Think about when you use the command, and how you caress the dogs response! It is very easy to misuse a command and thereby learn your dog a unwanted behavior.

You will have to find something to give as a treat when your dog actually does what you intended it to do by your command. and never respond positive to unwanted behavior, I have found that when my dogs respond in an unwanted manner I try to show it by body language and sound that this is not what I was trying to get you to do (I sigh and giving a almost weeping sound).

In your case try call the dog in by giving him a toy or another treat. But only when he is looking in your direction, and has your focus.

Seems like you need a "near area training first" get you dog on the leash and give him slack on it (you have your pocket filled with tiny bits of sausage first) when your dog looks away put a piece of sausage in your mouth then call your dogs name, when he looks you in your eyes pop out the sausage piece in his direction and let him get it and caress him by speech.

Train this for a few days 3-4 but only in short time 3-5 minutes is enough. after this period try whitout the leash the same exercise.

This you may alter a bit later and you may enhance this by adding factors of disturbance eventually. but remember this is a very powerful way if you keep the lessons short and give you dog time to adopt what he has learnt.

Have fun with your K9 Friend :-)

I have 3 dogs and we have a good life

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"But only when he is looking in your direction, and has your focus.". This is overly restrictive at the beginning. His dog apparently doesn't respond at all to a "come" cue. At the beginning just reinforce any small step, eg. if the dog comes towards you, but might stop before being next to you, that's OK (at first) to reinforce. –  Cedric H. Mar 10 at 8:36
    
Cedric, that's the part that starts "Seems like you need..." –  Esa Paulasto Mar 10 at 8:40
    
OK it's a bit upside down then. That sentence should go in the "this you may alter a bit later..." paragraph. –  Cedric H. Mar 10 at 8:42
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My dog acts the same. What usually works for me is:

  1. If the dog sees you (but for example, runs away from you) - turn around and start walking home. Try to walk pretty fast or even run. I try to stomp my feet and make some noise while doing this so my dog will notice. Your dog thinks you're playing catch, so if you run away it means she needs to catch you!
  2. Sometimes I just go home, keep the door open and soon enough my dog returns by himself. Since you live in a Kibbutz and not a big city I think there isn't much worry that your dog will get into danger. If she doesn't return in half an hour - then go searching for her again (when this happens with my dog, he's usually already pretty close to home).
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Prevention is the key. If you're afraid to be late, or are in a bad mood, just keep him on leash.

If the dog is unleashed, or if he's not, try to improve his visibility. You can find some useful information in this question: When walking my dog at night, how can I improve his visibility to others?

So prevention, and then training. There are many good resources on how to train a close-to-perfect recall. See for example the question How to properly train a dog to come when I call him ?, where I added an answer with references.

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Okay, so you've got a dog running around without a leash and one that won't let you catch him?

I'd suggest taking what some of the other users have said very seriously, but one more thing that you may want to do is something that I train all my dogs to do: love car rides.

Every dog I've ever owned in my life has been trained to get into a car without a leash. You can do this with treats if necessary, but most of the time it is not. If they ever get out and start running around, you can just open up your car door and they will come. If they don't believe you, just get in the car. They'll know you're serious.

Edit

One thing I wanted to add. You may not even need to train your dog. Try it in your backyard or in a park somewhere. Just park your car on the green and get out and play with him for a few minutes, being sure to get him all riled up and excited to play hide and go seek. Then stop abruptly and start walking towards your car with the leash, and yell "Come on! Car time" or something to that affect -- be sure, whatever you decide, that your command:

  1. Has two syllables (i.e. "Come On, Car Time!") . Animals respond better to words with two syllables, for some reason. I don't have any empirical evidence to support this, but through simple observation you can clearly see it.
  2. When you're yelling a particular command, yell the same exact command, over and over again and in a rising tone and higher pitched voice; because, rising tones correspond to happy expressions and a high voice corresponds to excitement.
  3. If you have a command that you use, like "Cage" or "Kennel," (which means "get in __") you can try using that command, if the dog responds well to it. You can attach the word "Car" to "Cage" but not to "kennel" because that would violate the two syllable rule.

Every dog that I've ever owned has been trained not only to "kennel" and "car" but also to walk without a leash. It is inevitable that a dog will escape sometimes. The reasoning is that Alsatians can be particularly dangerous, especially when the chase instinct kicks in, and I don't want them maiming some innocent child. The force they can bite with can shatter a cow femur -- I've seen them do it.

On a less serious note, car rides to fun places are a really good motivator in getting them to go into a car. Just like anything else, you have to use operant conditioning to ensure the dog will behave as desired. You can do it, even if it is counter intuitive, such as a feeding thing.

I once trained a dog to not eat their food until I say so. Call me cruel, but I once set the food bowl on the ground and folded laundry for half an hour. I came back to a puddle of drool on the floor and the food not missing. They knew that if they waited I'd give an extra slice of bacon or a treat in addition to their can.

It's all operant conditioning: obedience brings positive reactions, disobedience brings negative reactions ten times as severe as the reward for positive actions. Good luck, you can do it!

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I did not train my dog, so I don't know how much of this is from prior training, however, if I make loud stomping noises towards going back home, and I shout my dog's name really loudly in a tone which implies I think he is lost, followed by a "Bo!" (Come) after doing this 3 or 5 times, he usually comes running to me. However, I believe you have to be willing to start walking back home without her, otherwise it may not work.

Another thing I do is if he is 'bad' one night without the leash the next night I don't unleash him. I don't know if they have a memory long enough to associate the two but it seems to work.

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"Just train your dog properly to come when called" is easier said than done sometimes. I have a Shiba Inu, and just about every Shiba owner will tell you that they are smart, willful, and have very poor recall. No matter how often "come" is followed by a treat and praise, using "come" while off-leash and outdoors means "fun's over and it's time to go home" to my boy. When he doesn't want the fun to be over (and he never wants the fun to be over), it can be very difficult to convince him to come and he values freedom over any other resource I can offer (food, toys, petting).

If this sounds like your dog, I've found that continuing to play and casually grabbing his collar when he gets close to be the most effective way to catch him. If your dog does like hide-and-seek, play back by hiding behind trees and shrubs. You could also try using a prop of some sort. Sticks work particularly well since they can be thrown or used for tug of war.

It may be worthwhile to use a short leash during off-leash time. Ideally, it should be just short enough that your dog can't trip on it (or get dragged through mud or dog poop). The idea is that a short leash is easier to grab than the dog's collar.

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I suggest you start calling you dog to you more often. Reward him when he comes and then let him go again to continue his free time. He should realize soon that coming to you does not always mean that the leash will be put on. –  Esa Paulasto Mar 10 at 20:47
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I researched the breed beforehand and started doing that the moment I got him. It did not work. This is not your run-of-the-mill "my dog doesn't listen to me (because he is distracted)". Last week, he brazenly sat down 20' away and looked straight at me while I called for him with treats and toys. He is clever, has an excellent memory, and is not driven to please me like a typical dog. –  cimmanon Mar 10 at 21:23
    
Ah, that bad :( –  Esa Paulasto Mar 10 at 21:49
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Perhaps she will respond to the sound (or smell, if applicable) of treats. If it's in her culinary interest, will she come running to you? Or is the hide-and-seek game more important to her?

If that doesn't work (and I admit it's optimistic), you need to make it easier to find her. Since this is at night, have you tried using a glow-stick on her collar?

For a higher-tech approach, try using an RFID sticker on her tag plus a detector (examples. You can, as I understand it, use a special sticker and your smartphone to track your dog if she's nearby. This won't help with an escapee who might have gone some distance, but if she's hiding nearby this might do the trick. (I've seen reviews of and ads for these devices, but I have no personal experience with them.)

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