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Thread: Mostly Good but Runs Away

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    SW WA

    Default Mostly Good but Runs Away

    I live in the bush and have a pound rescue heeler/kelpie/57 variety female. Now about 3 and I have had her a year. Sweet natured but silly as a wheel. I was told she was picked up by the rangers many times and eventually not claimed so was not surprised that she was an absconder. I have a 500m containment fence/electric collar system and trained her to that with minimal problems. She stays home, supervises the chooks and is a happy dog. I would love to be able to walk her outside the fence area and have tried all the standard training mehods...she is mostly good but every time runs away. Usually to a neighbours property where she plays with their dogs So by the time I catch her she has had her reward of a good play. I am terrified she will chase some stock on the way and be shot. If I take her to public places she is mostly good but will forget and run off with other dogs.

    She is not at all interested in food treats if she is free.....running is her favorite treat. I do organise as many "play dates' as possible. I know another dog might help but can't have another.

    As I had such a good result from the containment collar does anyone have an opinion about me trying an electric training collar. Will it confuse her getting shocks out of the contaiment area? She never gets a shock now and responds to the warning sound.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009


    The breed plus the age makes a very tricky, happy, playful energetic puppy dog!

    First of all, this dog needs to be walked everyday, half an hour the minimum.
    Also, to go for a walk, she can stay on the lead. That eliminates the chance of her bolting straight away.
    But, being a fellow Kelpie owner, I know it feels they aren't always getting a proper walk on a lead, they need to run!
    You say your dog is mostly good but runs away everytime. I dont see how that is mostly good? She obviously hasnt been taught a reliable re-call. Being still relatively young and an incredibly intelligent breed(im still teaching my kelpie tricks at 6 years old) this should be easy to teach.
    You need a long long lead and treats or a favourite toy.
    Let her go walking on the lead with you, when you want her back, call her name and make it look exciting to come back to you. You can kneel down, higher your voice and make it sound fun, when she comes over, give her a treat and over the top praise. She'll learn coming back is fun! As she gets this, you can less and less the excitment. Drop off the high voice, then drop the kneeling, then drop the treats until you can call her and praise with a scruff of the head. Once this is all good on the lead, I reckon you could trust her off the lead.
    I hope this is the advice you were looking for.
    Last edited by aussiemyf7; 08-27-2009 at 04:59 PM.
    Education not Legislation

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    SW WA

    Default Thanks

    Thanks for your advice. Dulcie the dog does come to me 100% inside her containment area where she can't run away. When I am out working I might be in a paddock for 4 hours and I let her run and recall her if she is getting a bit far away. The "mostly good" is that she will come back for a pat and praise 20 times and then when I am caught up in what I am doing ie not watching her she bolts. If I see her go I can often get her back but once in a while she looks over shoulder at me but keeps on going. Great big kelpie smile and gone!

    She does get a 45 minute walk on lead every morning but as you say needs to run. One day I walked her on lead for 2 hours and she still wanted to run when we finished. All my prevous dogs I have had from a pup and I think I just don"t have the same bond with her. She is a very lucky dog - someone at home all day and a safe half acre containment area with room to run, chooks to round up and most of the time someone out with her doing chores.

    On your advice I will go back to the long rope exercise when we are out.

  4. #4


    Stick with a long line, or a lunge rein for now. If you do have to give her a pull to remind her to come when you call her, make sure you really praise her for all your worth.

    She sounds like she may have been in a pattern of running off to find her own entertainment in her previous life so it may be a little ingrained. She'll be smart enough to un-learn it. It's just going to be a pain in the arse in the meantime when you have to keep her on a long lead so you can remind her to come back when you call her...

    The trick is to make coming back to you the best thing in the world to her, no matter what else is going on.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Hi Blueanou

    The remote control electric training collar is not going to help if she goes out of sight of you or out of range of the device (about 500m for the reasonable priced ones). She needs to know that she has to return to you to get relief (can be trained) and she needs to know where you are. Using it when she's gone out of sight and/or the training hasn't sunk in - means she may just run and run further and further away to get away from the collar, and eventually that's going to work and you do not want her to learn that.

    The remote control collar as best I can tell - works best if you are watching the dog or at least can see it when you want her back. I do know the collars are used to get gun dogs back that may have gone out of sight but takes some dedicated training at short distances while paying attention first.

    Instead you could try a whistle - and use this as well as or instead of "come". The right whistle has a range to human ears of about 1.5km depending on weather, hopefully further for dog ears. So you practice by using the whistle when she's already coming to you and rewarding her... as per usual.

    I've got a similar problem with my heeler puppy nicking off when it suits her, and food rewards are not as enticing as whatever new smell or critter is way over there. Though she does seem very keen on the dried fish pieces, and shows up voluntarily for those. So the food rewards have to be very special.

    My heeler is 100% perfect on recall when she's attached ie on a lead - but she knows when she's not attached different rules apply.

    I think your main problem is you become less interesting than the neighbour's dogs when you get busy doing something, so I think what you need to do is put the dog on the lead just before you think you're going to be busy. Ie there's the job that needs doing - put dog on lead (or whatever confinement works) then do job so she can't go find something better to do when you're busy. With this - teaching a rock solid "Stay" would probably be useful.

    I have a routine in the morning that consists of letting puppy out, and then getting dressed so I can take puppy for walk - but if I don't shut the puppy back in after she's been out and before I get dressed- she goes into "play" mode and I can't catch her to go for the walk. She's not much of a forward thinker. She likes being at the oval with other dogs to play with but isn't very good at realising she has to go on the lead to get there (or back home for dinner). So I have to do the forward thinking - ie she's going to be hard to catch as soon as this happens - so I need to catch her before this happens.

    For you - it's "she's going to bolt when this happens, so I need to limit her opportunity before this happens".

    Going for walks in the area - there are lots of dangers to a wandering doggy so it might be best to keep her on lead all the time. If you are going for a walk and it's a dedicated dog walk and you're going to be paying attention to her, the electric training collar might be useful in this situation. You need to follow the instructions which involve while she's on the lead teaching her that she must come back to get relief from the zapper and when she's back - praising her up and playing with her.

    A couple of other ideas that I am trying out myself at the moment involve - never calling the dog "come" and then putting her on the lead and taking away her freedom. Which seems to defeat the purpose, but when I want to put her on lead - I wait till she shows up voluntarily and make sure that I play with her and reward her with her favourite things after I put on the lead, or I go get her - ie when she's greeting another dog or person, she's usually upside down with her paws in the air and she's easy to catch. And again, loads of praise.

    The worst thing I do - and I'm afraid I've had to do this quite a bit, is trick her into going into a small space like a small fenced area or a room or a corridor to catch her. Once she works out that she's "trapped" she gives in and lets me walk up to her and catch her. But each "trick" only works once.

    I don't know if this applies to you, but never chase her to catch her. Once you have her attention - run away from her making fun high pitched squealy noises - and her chase instinct should kick in and she will follow you. Never play "woof woof chasey" when you're "it". If my puppy dog invites me to chase her, I walk away and sometimes I shut the door between me and her, that particular game, along with bite-wrestle is forbidden.

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