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hi everyone, I’m after getting some advice, Monty is almost 1 and his recall is not 💯. So when we take out on an adventure walk ( country lanes, fields etc ) he is usually on a longline. This is good but it’s a faff in your hands especially when it’s been through the mud and god knows what 🤪 so I’ve been thinking about an extendable lead he ways just over 30 kg and is a strong boy. So would need a sturdy one . I know there’s pro’s and con’s to this which is why I’d be interested in others experience and advice. Many thanks x
 

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I hate seeing extending leads used extended beside the road. Two dogs I personally know saw something, ran out into the road and were killed. But if you need in fields and moorland, then thats a different matter. But of course the real answer is to get the recall reliable. But remember, the more he is off lead the less exciting, the more normal it becomes. Have a read of this. It was something I wrote a while back on the subject.

This as I said is a very common problem, brought about because of the Labrador’s social nature and their love of people and the correction should be tackled in two parts.

1/improving the recall, because if you have a good reliable recall then the problem goes away

Never be afraid to let him know that his behaviour is unacceptable! But do it WHILE HE'S HEADING AWAY! A really cross "Fish wife's" voice, "Packthatinandget back here pronto before I separate you from your breath!" The chances are that because it's unusual for you to raise your voice to him that he will stop and look round! "Wow! Mum's not happy!" And the instant he does then change to a happy voice and call him back. "Ooo, thank goodness, I've pleased her now!" The recall is so very important, because it can be a life saver. As you can see, there is a little bit of “The carrot and the stick” here. Jeckle and Hythe. But all done by tone of voice. You are expressing your feelings.

But with any command, wherever possible, never give the command if you are not in a position to enforce it, to make sure he does what you want, if necessary by slipping the lead on and drawing him too you. The idea is that your dog never gets to realise that he has a choice. For example, you are busy in doors doing something which cant wait, and you look out of the window and see your dog digging a hole at the top of the garden. You cant leave what you are doing so you just call him and he ignores you. The command in that one instant has been devalued and is sinking into, "Just another noise mum makes sometimes." It's loosing it's meaning. In this particular instance, does it really matter in the greater scheme of things? You can easily fill the hole in later. Just maybe it would be better not to have given the command, better to have pretended that you could not see the hole at that point and bided your time until you are able to actually go out to him and make sure the command is obeyed.
Trouble is, the recall is so often lost simply because people overuse the command and allowing it to be ignored. This is where a whistle can come in useful. Effectively it a new command, allowing you a second chance to teach the recall! Initially use both whistle and voice, but as your dog learns the new command you can drop the voice and just use the whistle. Try to train the whistle in a “Sterile” place. A place where there is no distractions. A plastic “Acme” whistle. They come in various pitches so if you lose one you can easily replace it with one of identical pitch. I use an Acme 211.5 You will also need a lanyard to hang it around your neck. A friend, on getting a gundog said to me, “Does that mean I’ve got to hang a whistle on a string round my neck? I think a string of pearls suits me better!”

Obviously if you are out with him and he's running towards the road and a number 9 bus is coming then you have to call him. But 9 times out of 10 you have time to plan ahead and make sure of the outcome before calling him. Working through the teenager stage can be hard work, but with thought you come out the other side with a dog you can trust anywhere. It's not about being hard on your dog, it's about being consistent. There is an old saying amongst dog trainers, "Get it wrong once is no problem. Get it wrong twice and it's becoming a habit. Get it wrong 3 times and to your dog it has become a learned procedure!" In other words, your dog has learned the wrong thing!

2/ Getting your relationship right. This means being the centre of your dog’s world. Not easy when you think about it because your dog is with you all the time, so you do not possess quite the attraction that a stranger has, so it needs working at.

Try to make the area around you the most important and interesting place to be. That means interacting with your dog, doing things together so that he wants to stay close because thats where the fun is happening. I really only ever use treats with real babies. I don’t find them necessary. I want my dog to want to be with me. But I don’t want them to be timid and afraid to leave me. That is not the idea at all! Your dogs are gundogs, bred over many generations to retrieve, and deep down that is what they want to do. So use it! You don’t need to get involved in shooting, you just need a ball, or better a proper gundog dummy. (It stays where it falls rather than rolling. ) Dont aim at long retrieves, aim more at difficult retrieves. Retrieves into long grass or other cover, so your dog has to use his nose and brain to find it. A little heelwork off lead can be fun, but make it fun! Let your hair down, behave a little crazy! Dogs love that! Serious is boring and boring is not fun! Once he gets started, and realises that you are the source of his fun he will be watching you, rather than looking for another dog, (or person) to run off after.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks John as usual a very thoughtful reply with lots of interesting information! We do have a whistle but only used it a couple of times at the training class we go to on a Saturday morning! The training has its basis’ in gundog training. I would use the extended lead when general walking as you point out there are danger’s and we’re working on Monty’s losse lead walking! So for the we use a double ended halti on his harness, slowly but surely he’s getting better but sometimes he still pulls like a train . When he does I stop and bring him back to my side . I might try the whistle in the garden first as my sterile area and then try just in our cul de sac before venturing out out !! What do you think ? X
 

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The only time I use an extending lead is with my rescue foxhound on the fields at the back of the house, who, when I have let off on a couple of occasions (when no livestock is on), can run far faster than me and really has no recall and the desire to get her nose down and run and run and run. Thankfully, I've used a large enclosed field when I've tried her off lead, but as she spent a good portion of her 'youth' fending for herself, I think the problem is fairly ingrained and I will struggle to get her to have a reliable recall. This is with the added draw of having my girls with a good recall with me, she just doesn't want to know. Other than that, I have never used them with my girls I've had from pups, as the recall is the thing I focus on the most. I jokingly say I focus on three things, the recall, manners on lead, recall, the sit/stop and recall, and I can 100% say most new owners think they've got the recall nailed on and it's the first thing to go out of the window. I'll see a post going something along the lines of we've got recall, sit, paw and they're walking nicely (remember, this is a small puppy) and then in six months they're posting asking for advice on which harness/head collar to use to stop pulling, and that the recall has gone.

Back to basics, only recall when you know he will respond, even if that's only 1m, then 2m, that is a successful recall. I'm not a fan of haltis, the ones I have seen tighten around the muzzle, the bumpf describes it as 'pressure' but really, if a noose tightens around the muzzle it won't be comfortable, and could be painful. Personally I'd stick to a flat collar and lead, I use slip leads for mine, as John does, and if they pull then I either stop and turn around, or ask for a sit. We don't get very far at all sometimes, but they do get the message. BUT these sort of things come with time for us, the handlers, we need to learn as much as our dogs do, so my handling experience is slightly up the scale from some new puppy/dog owners, but there are people who are so far up the scale I can't see them for the clouds, we all have lots to learn about handling dogs xx
 

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hi everyone, I’m after getting some advice, Monty is almost 1 and his recall is not 💯. So when we take out on an adventure walk ( country lanes, fields etc ) he is usually on a longline. This is good but it’s a faff in your hands especially when it’s been through the mud and god knows what 🤪 so I’ve been thinking about an extendable lead he ways just over 30 kg and is a strong boy. So would need a sturdy one . I know there’s pro’s and con’s to this which is why I’d be interested in others experience and advice. Many thanks x
Hi there,
I used a lunge line (30ft) and wore gloves with open fingers ( my fly fishing gloves) that worked great for teaching recall and when being out in the open wet areas. I preferred the long line ( lunge line) for better control and have not used an extendable. My lab is now 3 and rarely use the long line.
 

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Thanks John as usual a very thoughtful reply with lots of interesting information! We do have a whistle but only used it a couple of times at the training class we go to on a Saturday morning! The training has its basis’ in gundog training. I would use the extended lead when general walking as you point out there are danger’s and we’re working on Monty’s losse lead walking! So for the we use a double ended halti on his harness, slowly but surely he’s getting better but sometimes he still pulls like a train . When he does I stop and bring him back to my side . I might try the whistle in the garden first as my sterile area and then try just in our cul de sac before venturing out out !! What do you think ? X
hi again, not sure how others feel about a prong collar but I have used one as my lab is extremely athletic and strong and I am a slight woman. It works great she respects it and now walks on loose lead if she pulls it is on her.
 

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hi again, not sure how others feel about a prong collar but I have used one as my lab is extremely athletic and strong and I am a slight woman. It works great she respects it and now walks on loose lead if she pulls it is on her.
Prong or pinch collars are not widely used in the UK, and are not really well thought of.
 
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