Cocker Spaniel Running Away - Teach Him The Recall Command
We have two cocker spaniels from working parents. They are half sisters aged 18 months and 2.5 years old. Unfortunately, the older one has taken to running off and completely ignoring us. She will not come back at all. The younger one takes off after her but comes back on command.
They are exercised daily off the lead and love nothing more than to chase balls around - they'd do it all day long if they could!
We're really worried that harm will come to the one that doesn't return on command - what can we do to stop this?
Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)
I recommend you retrain your Cocker that keeps running away. Take time out to do it alone; don't involve your other Cocker just yet.
Go through the recall command for as long as it takes. Do this indoors or in an enclosed space outdoors first so that if she refuses to return you have a good chance of catching her, and she can't get into any harm.
Don't forget to reward her with a really high value treat when she gets it right and make a lot of fuss when she returns.
If she fails to return on your command, don't chastise her when she finally does return to you. Show that you're happy to see her, praise her but don't offer her a treat.
If you chastise your Cocker for not returning to you the minute you gave her the command, she may decide it's not fun to come back to you. You are also in danger of alienating her to the point that she becomes frightened to come back to you at all!
It's better to always praise her for returning to you - no matter how long she takes.
If you reward your dog with enthusiastic praise and treats when she returns quickly, but hold back the treats when she returns 'in her own sweet time', she will eventually cotton on to the fact that returning immediately is better because she also gets special treats.
Keep practicing and when you think she's mastered the recall command, try it on both dogs at the same time.
Make it seem like a game - make it fun!
If you'd like to refresh your memory, you can read more about the recall command here.
Hope this helps!