Roaming Dog to Reliable Recall

Michiyo-Fir

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#1
There's a young dog at the shelter that we've decided to visit this week. He's supposed to be a Lab/BC mix that was living on a reserve. The thing is, he's always roamed as he pleases and the shelter says he's prone to roam around and doesn't really care about following a specific person/family. He just leaves if you let him off leash, so no off leash time anytime soon.

I've never had a dog like that, all of our dogs we got as puppies and they always tried to stick close to us from the get go. Now my question is, because he's so used to this behaviour, is it difficult to get him used to the idea that he should follow/pay attention to the family or will it naturally come when he bonds with us?

Is it also more difficult to train a solid recall on a dog that's content to roam around? I do plan on having a dog that's going to be fine to hike/play/jog off leash so it's very important for me that a dog naturally stays close by and doesn't wander off :yikes:

I haven't met him yet and have only spoken to the shelter. I'm going to try to make it out to see him either Thursday or Saturday.

Now 2 pics from the shelter



 

Elrohwen

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#2
It really depends. It could be that he's acting independent because he's at a shelter and dogs act a bit differently at a shelter, or it could be that's he's naturally just very independent. It could be that he roams because nobody has taught him a recall (and he's never had someone he cared to follow around), or it could be that he's really really interested in running/hunting/whatever. His motivations for roaming are more important than the fact that he does it. You can certainly improve it and work on recall, but there's no way to tell if he'll ever be reliable off leash just from that description.

If off leash reliability is super important to you, I wouldn't start with a dog who is already known to be an independent roamer. Would you be really upset if he had to be on a leash or long line the rest of his life?
 

Maxy24

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It's hard to say. He may not have stuck around because he didn't have a bond with any of the people, didn't consider anyone his family, and so saw no one to stick around for. On the other hand he may just not have the type of temperament where he is clingy and wants to stay close, he's independent. This wouldn't make teaching a recall harder, but it may make off leash activities where he's not being directly interacted with difficult. If you're playing fetch or something that he enjoys he wouldn't necessarily run off but if let loose in the yard or on a hike where he's not always being told to come back he may just keep on going and wander too far. You can teach a dog to check in periodically, not sure how reliable it is as I've never taught it. I'm not sure how you'd go about evaluating this sort of thing in a shelter environment though. You will want to ask if he simply wanders too far or if he really makes a run for it. My last dog was a run for the hills type, if he slipped out the door (and boy did he try) or got off his leash he RAN and didn't look back. It's a bit different than a dog who just isn't concerned with his distance from you. Knowing things about his prey drive and tendency to follow his nose might be helpful but I don't know if anything short of living with him will tell you if he's got a "stick close" temperament. It might be better to go with a dog they already know likes to stick around if off leash reliability is super important to you. It might still change as the dog becomes more comfortable and confident (if he's clinging to people out of insecurity) but it might give you a better chance.


But he's freaking adorable, looks like a sweet guy. Let us know how the meeting with him goes.
 

Laurelin

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Well all I know about Hank is he was found roaming as a stray. He was brought in by an animal control officer.

I will tell you so far he is recalling really well. I have obviously not had him off leash in an unfenced area but in large fenced areas he is great and sticks with me well. I can tell other dogs will be an issue because he wants to chase and play so bad. But other than that I expect him to be ok. He hasn't bolted at all. I dropped the Leash and he sat when I said sit. He's definitely not showing signs of being a crazy bolter.

I dunno. I guess it is just an individual thing. Not sure there is a way to know with an unknown dog with dubious history.

Eta. I agree if off leash is super important then maybe pass. Off leash is decently important to me- agility is off leash after all. I felt like Hank had enough drive for food and toys and seemed people oriented enough to chance it.
 

Michiyo-Fir

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I guess I will really have to meet him and see...

It's really frustrating me that the shelter has virtually no information on him. I tried to ask about his toy drive, food drive, if he fetches and stuff, and they have no idea. He's already been there for a while, I'm not suer if the shelter evaluates the dogs much at all other than to see if they're ok with strangers and other dogs. If the shelter staff has no idea, how would I be able to evaluate toy/food drive in a shelter environment?? I've never adopted before and I'm not exactly sure how it all works.

They told me he's never really lived inside or had an owner, he's been roaming/outside as far as they know since he was a puppy. He's about a year old now based on their estimates. He doesn't run away but just wanders around because that's what the shelter said he's used to.

If I don't take him, I really hope he finds a good home :(They said he was very friendly with people and other dogs, playful, easygoing and he just seems like a good dog. I think I will go see him at least
 

Elrohwen

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#6
He doesn't run away but just wanders around because that's what the shelter said he's used to.
I mean, any dog without a family is going to roam around. What else is there to do?

Good luck with your visit. You should hopefully be able to tell if he's interested in interacting and engaging with you, or if he takes a quick sniff of you and then wanders off to check out his environment. Not that it's a sure thing, but if he seeks out interaction with you then there is something to build on.
 

Laurelin

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Yeah Hank's first petfinder profile just said 'cattle dog' a181.... Etc with his case number. Nothing else at all.

With him I looked for willingness to play with toys. Good with he other dogs. Ok with the crazy noises. Interest in humans. It's all a bit of a gamble though. He is great though. Very fun stable dog.
 

Michiyo-Fir

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With him I looked for willingness to play with toys. Good with he other dogs. Ok with the crazy noises. Interest in humans. It's all a bit of a gamble though. He is great though. Very fun stable dog.
Did you take toys and treats and stuff to the shelter to try to see if he wanted to play? How did you test for noise?
 

Laurelin

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The shelter was basically a room full of screaming pit bills so it was insane as is. They had most dogs in this room. Packed to the brim in little concrete kennels. I could barely hear myself think. He was not skittish at all and wanted to be petted and played with. I liked that.

I did not bring toys. I planned on it but he was kind of an impulse grab. They had tennis balls in the spare room so we played that. With food they brought out a can of alpo and we tested him with that

I showed up about 10 mins before closing so it was really fast. They kept open extra for me thankfully.

My plan was always to bring some toys and food but I ended up impulse going over there after work. Lol
 

Michiyo-Fir

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I called the shelter again today to see if I can get a bit more information but unfortunately he's been approved for adoption by someone else :( Well at least I hope he goes to a loving home because for some reasons I was oddly drawn to him.
 

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