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Ive got a bluetick coon hound, about 3.5 years old. When he was younger he would come when called pretty much all the time, he will come still if we are indoors but im forced to keep him on a leash any time i let him outside because he loves to go hunt other animals like raccoon and such. If i were to let him outside like i used to be able to do, he will not come on command anymore and will infact run away from me because he knows i will take him away from his fun by bringing him indoors with me... any help would be much appreciated by both me and my hound as i would love to let him have his fun but on my terms!

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  • I've had mostly Border Collies - real people pleasers - who wouldn't dream of running off. But I've had a coonhound mix now for three years. He's a terrific dog, and he's much loved and appreciated, but the sad fact is he prefers rabbits to me. He will come when called (see below: I follow that excellent advice) but if he sees or smells a rabbit, all bets are off. Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 17:52

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You've already realized the core problem:

Chasing animals is more fun than coming back to you.

As long as you are less fun and rewarding than whatever your dog is currently doing, he will ignore you. Any amount of shouting or punishment is completely irrelevant. The only thing that can tip the scale is rewards.

So you should test which kind of reward your dog likes best.

  • Most food oriented dogs like treats.
  • Most toy oriented dogs like a ball or a tug toy. But the reward is not the toy itself, but you playing with them.
  • Some very social dogs like a verbal praise, but it's very rare that verbal praise alone is enough for a dog. And you'll have to over exaggerate a lot to make the verbal praise really worth it.

Once you know what your dog likes best, you start recall training. Don't just call your dogs name, but always a command like "come here" as well. You can even add a gesture (like pointing at your feet) to make the command more clear. Your dog gets a reward every single time he comes to you, without exception. Rewarding him as soon as possible increases the effectiveness of the training, so start praising him as soon as he walks into your direction and give him his toy or treat as soon as he reaches you.

First start training in your home, where it's easiest for your dog. This phase of the training is to teach him that coming to you yields a better reward than in the past.

Then start training outside, while he's still on the leash. Reward him every single time.

Once that works well, you can try letting him off the leash in a safe environment like a fenced area. continue training as usual, rewarding him every single time. Here you can increase the difficulty by calling him back while he's distracted by other things or sniffing around.

This training will take several weeks to be effective. You should only let your dog off the leash if you can throw a ball or stage another distraction in the fenced area and can successfully call your dog back from that distraction. It also means that you have to take his favorite toy or treats with you on all walks because you have to reward him every time you call him back.

As soon as you stop rewarding him for his obedience, he will start ignoring you again because if he chases this raccoon, there's a 100% chance he'll have fun (even if you reprimand him later, he only sees the fun). But if he comes back to you, there's only a 50% or less chance he'll have fun. The math is easy. You want obedience, you have to pay for it in treats or play time.

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  • I agree completely with this answer, so please know that. I'd upvote it more, for all the good points you make (like food-motivated vs. toy motivated, and really doing up the praise. Bubbly praise is really fun for many dogs.) But there are some breeds (especially scent breeds) that, no matter what the reward of coming back, will naturally take off after an interesting scent, and even trainers recommend that they not be off leash when the dog might stray pretty far. Unless you're carrying a rabbit with you, of course. Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 17:44
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    @anongoodnurse Yes, that's a very valid point. Some people are also not able to train often enough with their dogs (we all have lives and they don't always follow our plans) to ever achieve pervect recall. That's why I recommend doing the training in a fenced area and testing the success of the training by distracting the dog. There's no shame in keeping your dog on a leash. But it is a shame if your dog causes harm to other animals or people or even itself (by running in front of a car) because it wasn't kept on a leash and you couldn't call it back.
    – Elmy
    Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 17:51
  • Yes, exactly! I have a coonhound mix that jumped out of an open car window after a rabbit on the opposite side of the road, with a car coming. No one was hurt, but I was thoroughly shaken. The windows only go so far down now, every time. Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 17:56

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