Do you call your dog multiple times on a walk and he doesn’t come back, in fact he makes you question that he even knows his name? Yep – you aren’t alone!
Having the control over your dog from a distance has to start in the house, if you don’t have a high standard of control over your dog in the house when you can touch it and psychically place it in the place you are asking it to be then you won’t stand a chance hurling commands at it from a far on a walk. This is because if it doesn’t have a fixed concept of consequences and consistent associations between commands and actions, out on a walk he will just please himself. Once that lead it off we need your dog to know it relies on you for any decisions it has to make and any actions it has to execute, other-wise he will make his own decisions and they mostly will be wrong!
GET RID OF YOUR STETCH LEAD RIGHT NOW! These things are a monstrosity if you want your dog to learn to follow you and stick with you on a walk when off the lead you are diminishing your chances of this every second you have your dog on the end of one of these! Make the distinction between on and off the lead as it had a big effect on decision making, socialisation and keeping up with the pack. By using a stretch lead you are giving your dog a lot of mixed signals and freedom. He is far enough ahead and away from you to feel as though he has to defend himself and make his own decisions but does not have control of his neck so this can produce defensive traits when socialising. He can’t play fully so it stunts his interaction and he will have absolutely no concept of recall or following and quite frankly he doesn’t need to. You aren’t going anywhere so he doesn’t need to keep up or follow you, you don’t need to use his name the lead will just yank him when he’s gone too far and that’s his concept of recall. So in a nut shell you are giving him all the freedom to walk ahead and make his own decisions and you will follow his direction and lead, therefore reinforcing he is in charge of this pack and then when it’s time to go he doesn’t need to be aware he will just be yanked. So when he is off the lead he has all the same freedom and control but nothing yanking him when you want to go elsewhere so he is not going to come to his name and he won’t have learnt to follow.
Do not worry though – it is not the end of the world if you have an adult dog that doesn’t come to his name, ‘recall’ is a totally human concept that we push on our dogs for personal reasons and comfort. Dogs do you not use names with each other they just do not wait around for daft dogs that aren’t keeping up. Some dogs take longer to learn to follow but they all have it in them as they are not solitary animals so stick to your guns on a walk and carry on moving forward even if its baby steps make them and don’t let him catch you looking back. He will come and the time it takes for him to follow will decrease the more times you show him you aren’t going to wait for him. So forget recall for the moment with your adult dog, stop using your dogs name and just start teaching him to follow, this will mean far more to him than the human idea of name calling.