Labradors Forums banner
1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
716 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys
Finn is causing me a real problem with scavenging while out on walks so I'm hoping someone has some suggestions because he's getting worse :(
For a bit of background he's 20 months old and from being a tiny puppy he has been the greediest dig I have ever known . He gets fed kibble ( about 400grams of skinners field and trial at the moment ) and can not be trusted around food at all . He's now shut in another room while I'm cooking and people are eating as he will steal food at any opportunity . He also gets bonio and food treats while out on a walk training so it shouldn't be hunger but I have always wondered if his food is satisfying him as he's very lean and his last couple of ribs are visible . I've tried changing food ( wainwrights ) and once or twice a week he gets something such as sardines or tripe but this makes no difference to his weight .
When he was very young it became apparent if he wasn't kept engaged he would amuse himself and go hunting . He foes have a strong prey drive so we did obedience classes and some gun dog classes with him . Now every walk I take a bag with me and we do training while walking . We do things like practicing walking to heel . Stays at a distance , stop whistle and seen and unseen retrieves . Doing this combined with putting him on lead at places where I know there's lots of rabbits seemed to be working until recently.
Over the last month or so he has started running off if he scents something to eat and he is completely ignoring when we are trying to recall . My husband took him out last night and when he came back he said he lost him for 20 minutes in some woodland . He had obviously ate something he shouldn't and now has a stomach upset .
I took him out earlier and went in the opposite direction and within a couple of minutes he ran off and I lost him fir 45 minutes . I found him about a quarter of a mile away at the same place he ran to the night before . I put him straight back on his lead and kept him on fir the remainder of the walk . Quite honestly I was beside myself and now don't trust him off lead but I don't want to walk him on lead for the rest of his life .
My initial thinking is that I need to do seperate walks with him and Bruce and keep Finn on a long line while I sort thus is due out but I'm stumped . I can't think if anything that's of higher value to him than scavenging and I now feel out if my depth . I'm also wondering if it could be food related and is he genuinely hungry all the time . Any thoughts anyone ?

Claire x
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
224 Posts
Mason can eat his food and then immediately sit and stare at you with drool reaching the floor while you eat, and when you finish he'll move and stare at someone else.

I really think labs are born without that part of the brain that says I'm full.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,312 Posts
Sorry I wish I had a full proof answer for you as I feel your concern.

I have 3 who are all greedy and will eat anything when out given the chance, I do think this time of year the cold brings out the smells and gets there noses into overdrive and I am limiting the off lead walks just lately.

Re changing food, I am not sure that will help with breaking the greedy habit, but if you feel he is getting more ribby then maybe something with a higher protein would help put some weight on [MWH does have high protein], I doubt it will stop the hunting for food though.

I also don't find treats in my pocket help, as they all come on recall for a treat then bugger off on the hunt again, so its a win win for them:rolleyes:.

My only suggestion that would most likely work is a muzzle, I do sometimes toy with the idea and threaten next time grrr, but have not done it yet.

My lot are having more lead walks than ever now just because of their scavenging, however, when I hear of a nice clean walk or one with less chance of them going to far afield then we go for a nice off lead, today it will be the downs as I can see them for long distance as I avoid the woods at the moment.

Not a lot of help but atleast your not on your own, also my lot do seem to be better if we are walking with another dog friend it seems it helps as a distraction from yuck.

June
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,616 Posts
I wish there was a cure that someone could come up with.We have the same problems with Martha.We have tried a muzzle,Martha spends the whole walk trying to get it off.So we don't use it again,we have tried distraction without success.The last resort is lead walks,which are not the same as free reign.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
638 Posts
Have you tried carrying really nice smelling high value treats with you? Titbits of cheese, liver cake, sausage, roast chicken etc?
Though I know this would not solve him running off, it could persuade him to stick around as you have something reaaally tasty.
For now i'd keep him on a long line until you've sorted the recall with distraction. As the nights are darker and colder it's not worth him running off and getting lost :(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
716 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies and managing to get through my essay lol.
I've another lab boy Bruce who's a bit older than Finn so I was prepared for Finn to be greedy and I've learnt to turn a blind eye to the odd bit of scavenging but Finn is on a totally different level . The muzzle idea is a good one because it will stop him getting a upset stomach even though it won't stop him b*******g off in the first place :rolleyes:
In all honesty a bit of grass and horse poo eating doesn't bother me but dead decomposing rabbits are too much for me :eek: . I'm really disappointed because we never had a issue with recall till recently and I thought I'd got through the adolescent stage relatively unscathed .
Like you all I don't want to have to do on lead walks only but it might be the only way until the habit is broke .
I know they say dogs don't know but I honestly think he does know that he done wrong . When I got him I didn't know wether to kiss or kill him so I just put him on lead without speaking . He walked the rest of the way home perfectly at heel in line with my knee without any reminders . There's a first time for everything :cheesygrin:

Claire x
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
716 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Have you tried carrying really nice smelling high value treats with you? Titbits of cheese, liver cake, sausage, roast chicken etc?
Though I know this would not solve him running off, it could persuade him to stick around as you have something reaaally tasty.
For now i'd keep him on a long line until you've sorted the recall with distraction. As the nights are darker and colder it's not worth him running off and getting lost :(
Yes I take liver cake and salmon and tuna cake as well as hotdogs and cheese . I tend to make a big batch at the beginning of the week and I'm careful to do a lottery with it and not reward all the time . He must think my cooking doesn't compare to rotten rabbits :rolleyes:
The thought of losing him terrifies me so I agree it's definitely not worth the risk .
Hmm just thinking I should try some new treats . My old special treats may be a bit boring now

Claire x
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
In my puppy training classes, the trainer had us practicing 'impulse control' around food. Basically the aim was to be able to put a handful of very very tasty treats on the floor and have the puppy ignore them completely. I was amazed how quick my puppy learned to leave food alone. She learned it so well that I often have difficulty trying to teach her moves from 'heel work to music' as she won't always follow a 'lure' in my hand. I'll have a dig around and see if I can find the email she sent me on how to do it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
755 Posts
Claire, I am in the same world of pain with you on this!

It is pretty much my only outstanding training challenge with Gemma now, but it seems impossible to crack!

And I've been working on training idea's to stop it for over a year. I've researched the subject to a point where I am now at a dead end. And have spoken to a behaviourist about it. And my dog studies tutor. And a psychologist!!! Let me share what I have learned so far:

Scavenging is an innate behaviour. It's hard wired in their DNA.

According to psychology, innate behaviours can never be completely eliminated.
They can be masked or controlled, but never extinguished, and they may re-arise at any time under conditions of stress, or lack of control.

I asked my dog studies tutor how they crack this with service dogs, surely they can't just stop to eat some junk whilst on the job. She replied telling me haha that's what you think, she was at a service dog demo at a stadium, and a dog of 10yrs experience helped himself to a bunch of dropped sausages off a hot dog stand!

I'm a massive believer in positive training but all I see there is useless advice for this. They say teach your dog a Leave It, and proof Recall to call away from a food stuff. I can do BOTH of those things but they are hopeless if I don't see it first. And it's impossible to see coming when a 1 in 100 pleasant sniff in long grass suddenly turns into a gobble! They say muzzle your dog to break the habit. I have too many reasons not to do that (though I realize I'm not helping myself there).

Serious punishment would probably cure it but I'm in no mood to start becoming an animal abuser. I say serious because food is such a powerful prize, could a telling off ever outweigh the pleasure of the crime!?

Like you, I also feel that Gemma knows it is not acceptable. But when there is a temptation right under her nose, I think that hard-wiring in the brain just kicks in and takes over.

I have done masses of work to be interacting with Gemma every minute she's off the lead. I really thought this held promise, based on my leaving to her to roam and enjoy (lack of control).
She earns food for automatic waits (she trots off so far and ahead and stops, looks back and waits), she earns food for checking in with me when off-lead, she earns food for voluntary heels. There are more, but suffice to say on every single walk she has many ways to earn food from me, the theory being to occupy her mind and stop her finding her own amusement and rewards.

In my puppy training classes, the trainer had us practicing 'impulse control' around food. Basically the aim was to be able to put a handful of very very tasty treats on the floor and have the puppy ignore them completely
Some smashing thoughts there. But unless I'm missing a detail somewhere, I'm way past all that and still no further on with the problem!
With Gemma I can drop any food stuff in front of her, and she's been trained to look at me for permission to Take It.
I can plant food or treats in the house or out on walks. She will Sit by it and look at me for permission to Take It.
So far so good right?! :)
Except: All she has learned is not to take MY food without permission. The training has never generalised to not eating any random finds without permission.
It's almost like I have to train against every specific food stuff we could ever encounter, which I can't deal with at all!

We even got to a point where Gemma would automatically Leave a trail of horse muck. Then it went wrong. What I have determined is that if I'm close by and she knows I'm watching, she Leaves It. If she thinks I'm not watching, she dives right in! (lack of control again?)

I've tried to be very very strict and structured. She can only take food if it's handed into her mouth, or she's given an OK or a Take It. I sometimes wonder if I'm not being consistent or confusing her given there are three ways?

The lack of control even kicks in if she's playing with other dogs, chase etc. If she comes across a "find" even then, she'll dive right in and forget all about play!

So Claire, I may be a few steps ahead of you, but still can't solve it.
One problem I don't have though is her going missing, or picking up a scent and bolting off.
Rewarding "checking in" (e.g. coming back to me to say Hi when off the lead) profusely for 2 years has given me a powerful safety net where Gemma will never venture too far away.

I also figured I need to keep her closer to manage the behaviour, so I've trained Waits and automatic waits adding, yet another dimension to this. Even if they fail, her recall is (touch wood) bullet proof so the moment she bolted I can call her back.
They’ve worked so well sometimes I can’t get bloomin' rid of her off the lead, lol! But perhaps those things might help reduce the severity of the problem for you? Even if they aren't a wonder-cure.

Can anyone out there tell me if I've done anything wrong above, or missed a detail? Because I'm totally at my wits end too! I only get so emotional about it because I don't want Gemma to become a poisoning statistic :(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,312 Posts
I can't fault what you have tried over time.

My main fear is also what the dog hater will plant in an obscure place that the dogs will have no problem finding, and my other two rely on Mischa as she is a proficient hunter of anything edible, her nose works over huge distances and she is deaf:rolleyes:.

To reduce the opportunity lead walks are becoming more often now compared to a year ago, but I do feel the problem has got worse since her cruciate injury, because of this I have reduced her interaction and ball play with other dogs she used to meet up with, I do worry about further injury with rough play and ball chasing which is a sport for her if she is with another eager dog.

Maybe not having the fun time off lead could be the reason for her scavenging is something I have wondered about, also our other two being puppy farm rescues would have scavenged for survival knowing the conditions they had come from which would probably be a habit they can't give up, and if memory serves me right I don't think Mischa was so obsessed before they joined us.

Its all a huge conundrum that I try to put out of my mind, then when I hear others talking about it it gets me thinking again.

I will continue to read and absorb other ideas about it, maybe one day there will be an answer:D.

June
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
716 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
John n gemma it sounds like we are in exactly the same position . He sits and waits to be released for his food in the house and he doesn't steal the cats food . I wouldn't trust him with food left on the kitchen bench or table though . He's fine while I'm there but I think he would have it if I turned my back .
I've been thinking and reading about it a lot and as you say it's a difficult one because there is no greater reward for him than scavenging and i think the punishment needed would be more severe than I am willing to do .
I'm thinking I need to work a lot on impulse control with him . Hopefully as he matures a bit he will choose to do the right thing because he does want to be a good boy but at times he just can't help himself :rolleyes:
Today we went out just me and him and we went only about two football fields away from the trees in which he has been running off to . The wind was blowing from that direction and he was sniffing the air madly but whenever he was looking at me I was making a big fuss and giving him cooked chicken . We walked a bit further on and I let him off lead and started a game of tag with him ( dont ask lol ) . He was still very interested in the smells coming from that direction and there was a couple of times I thought he was going to go but he didn't so he got a big fuss made of him . He knew he had done good though I could tell by his body language .
I suspect it's not going to be something I ever manage to stop and I'll always have to be thinking ahead and keeping him engaged
The main worry for me is the ignoring the recall and how far he was willing to go out of my sight . I probably let them go further in front of me than I could so I'm hoping I can try working on keeping him closer then he might pay more attention to me

Claire x
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
755 Posts
I can't fault what you have tried over time.
Its all a huge conundrum that I try to put out of my mind, then when I hear others talking about it it gets me thinking again.
Thanks :) There is so much going on there, sometimes I can never rule out if my consistency is off or I'm trying too many things. I'm tempted to get our behaviourist back out next year, sometimes that third-eye is so important to see if we're actually doing what we think we are! The theories seem sound enough, so I'm thinking it has to be either me, or an insurmountable genetic compulsion that will never be beaten!

That's an uncanny summing up of my own turmoil. Is the stress worth it, or better to just give up and accept that opportunistic scavenging is part of parcel of Lab life!?

My main fear is also what the dog hater will plant
This 1000%. Or an discarded bar of chocolate.... anything :mad:

John n gemma it sounds like we are in exactly the same position . He sits and waits to be released for his food in the house and he doesn't steal the cats food . I wouldn't trust him with food left on the kitchen bench or table though . He's fine while I'm there but I think he would have it if I turned my back
Just this morning I was preparing our walking treats and accidentally dropped half a dozen on the floor. Gemma just stood their looking at me, like butter wouldn't melt. So she got handed an extra treat, then an OK to hoover up the floor!

Maybe I need to bring a bag of fox poo and half rotten take aways home lol, then we could train against those too!
(if not so gross that actually might not be as funny as it sounds!)

At least we can take some comfort is knowing we are far from alone on this. For the short-term at least, like you say, the best we can do is concentrate on keeping general obedience sharp enough to manage the problem.

I take it when we're talking about impulse control we're referring to general willpower bulilding stuff like really challenging Leave Its and Stays etc?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,312 Posts
John n Gemma, you are definately not alone, that is why I try not to think about it too much on a daily basis.

I meet people almost everyday that have similar problem and they have accepted what they have, greedy but lovable labs, some of these little stinkers you will want them to rinse their mouth before giving you a lovey lick:rolleyes:, but we are definately not alone.

Junex
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
716 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I take it when we're talking about impulse control we're referring to general willpower bulilding stuff like really challenging Leave Its and Stays etc?
Yes exactly . He's generally very good if a bit young and scatty . He has a certain excitement threshold though and once he's over that you can see him visibly struggling to contain himself .
For example out on a walk I can normally easily recall him from other dogs and people . However if he is already hyped up because he is running around chasing with Bruce , then he smells something something exciting and he's a decent distance away from me he's away . I know it sounds simple to resolve and it's just a case of not letting him get hyped up but this has only all started happening recently so caught me by surprise . He's never ran so far away from me before and it's almost like he's only just realised he can and the reward he got for doing it was super high to him .
Visitors to the house are very exciting to him and while he will now sit and stay he quivers the whole time . He does go and get a toy once he's released to go say hello and that seems to help him calm also

While I'm not happy others have the same problem it's good to know I'm not the only one :cheesygrin:. I think it's easy to feel like everyone else has the perfectly trained dog and that I've failed somehow in training no matter how hard I try

Claire x
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,324 Posts
halle07;1793057 I think it's easy to feel like everyone else has the perfectly trained dog and that I've failed somehow in training no matter how hard I try Claire x[/QUOTE said:
Hi Claire 😊
Can you - do you take them out separately so that you can focus on one dog at a time to proof recall or whatever you're training, without the excitement of another dog or dogs being in the mix.

Do you use a whistle
Do you have to use treats as a reward, bearing in mind that he has to be with you to actually get a treat whereas his reward (if he's bolted off to play or off scavenging) will be playing with the other dogs or finding something rotten to eat, either way he's being rewarded

But; stay positive and remember: you never fail unless you quit!!
 
  • Like
Reactions: halle07

·
Registered
Joined
·
716 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hi :)

Yes I do take them out separately about three days a week . I do use a whistle as I do quite a bit of gun dog training with them both and he's good when he's actively engaged with me . It's been when he's just been free running over the last month or so that he's been getting himself in trouble ;)
I use a mixture of treats and balls as a treat all depending on what we are working on .
Don't get me wrong his mad zest for life and his ability to keep me on my toes are one of the things that I adore about him but now that has turned into being willing to run off its very worrying to me .
He hadn't done it since I started this thread but then again he hasn't been given the opportunity . I don't know , maybe I've trusted him too much and just haven't been giving him as much mental stimulation without realising it .
The scavenging while I don't like it may be something I just have to learn to manage . Luckily where I live it's quite rural so it tends to be organic matter he eats rather than rubbish so I don't worry too much about it being anything too dangerous for him .
Thank your for your kind words I won't give up :)

Claire x
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
I found with our rescue female Lab, 5 months now age 5. We won’t let her eat her food and say wait, then started paw which gets them to work for food. Now she justs waits for one of use to say go-on, then she eats. Outside much harder, so short lead and leave commands. Also I found have her fav treat of raw carrot while keep her eyes on you and nothing else. Also good diet food as they can’t diggest
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top