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Thread: Bad Behavior at the Park

  1. #1

    Default Bad Behavior at the Park


    Mr Jones, our 4yo Black Lab, is a real pain at the park when other dogs are about and he has a ball.

    Penny, our 8month Yellow Lab is a picture of sweetness and joy. She will always come when called, fetches well and is nice and sociable.

    Jonesy will not come when called, steals other dogs balls (he can fit 2 balls in his mouth - insert joke here) and generally does what he wants.

    When he was a pup there were dominant behaviors we either didn't recognise or fix and are now paying the price.

    Problem is, in the park we cannot focus his attention, especially when other dogs are around. What are, dare I say it, stimulation collars like? A mate of mine swears by them. His answer to most things is generally 'more power' or 'more aggression' so I take his comments lightly.

    Any other suggestions are welcome too.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Jonesy will not come when called, steals other dogs balls (he can fit 2 balls in his mouth - insert joke here) and generally does what he wants.
    A zap collar is not going to fix your lack of dog training for this one. Yes some dogs are better at figuring out what you want and more willing to do it than others but that doesn't mean Jonesy can't be a good dog. It's up to you to put the effort in.

    Number one thing I would do if he's naughty at the dog park - is stop his fun - put him on lead so he can't ignore you. And I wouldn't let him off until he showed a reliable recall in places with low distractions eg inside your house, in your back yard, inside a small enclosed area that is not a dog park - ie no doggy distractions (we've got lots of fully fenced public tennis courts around Adelaide that are perfect for this). On a long line where there are doggy distractions. Etc.

    No point letting him off if he's going to find more fun than you anywhere and everywhere else. Letting your dog off lead - even inside a fully fenced dog park - when you have no recall - is illegal in most states and councils in Australia. Yes hoardes of people do it - but if your dog gets into trouble - you will be held legally liable because you were breaking the law - you let your dog off lead when he won't come when called.

    A zap collar could just as easily make this problem worse as fix it if you don't know what you're doing. And depending what state you're in - they're illegal to put on dogs too. In some states they're legal but only if you've been trained by a government accredited (dog) trainer or behavourist.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    melbourne australia


    Id get a long length of string/rope, tie it to his collar and let him off, so that when you say "come" you can wind him in by the length of rope. (Guaranteed 100% recall every time

    And follow what hyacynth suggested and do the training.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011


    I agree with Hya. Sounds like your younger lab was just much more keen to please and Jonesy just needs more structured training. And it's never too late to start with that.

    If he does what he wants, you'll have to teach him that there is no such thing as a free lunch. You have to make him work for the things that he likes. That can be either food or balls or pats or being let off the lead.

    With recall, even though it appears like the most simple of all things to teach a dog, it is the one that takes most time and effort. The key is - like with most training - not to regard it as a power struggle, but to set your dog up for success instead.

    If you are starting completely from scratch for example, you only ever call your dog when they are already heading over to you anyway at first. Then you make a big song and dance when they get to you and reward them. Dogs love this! And it shows them very clearly in black and white what it is you expect of them. Next you call them when they are only a short distance away and not engaging in any distracting behaviour, like sniffing a tree. You give bigger rewards when they run towards you immediately, smaller rewards if they take a bit of time but you still praise them if they do a lap around the oval before they get to you! Never, ever scold your dog for taking a long time to come. Just motivate them to come faster by using high value rewards, which can be good food or throwing the ball for them. I once read that you should only ever call your dog if you are willing to bet $100 that they will come. If you call them when they are likely to ignore you, you teach them that coming when called is optional. You want to avoid that association. Experts advice to start fresh with a new word too, because by now the old "come" is "broken".

    Next you "proof" this behaviour. By doing it in lots and lots of different situations. We give our dogs too much credit often. It is not because they know that they have to come when you call them to give them their dinner that they know they also have to do this when they see a cat running through the street. To them, these are completely different situations and you have to teach them that your recall cue applies to all of these by practising in as many situations as you can think of.

    Now I am one of those dog owners who hates always walking the dog on the lead. I should've done it for training my dog to not jump up on people and I couldn't, so we are still struggling with that one. But I would advise you to go to the dog park at times when there is no one there if possible. If you can't, go to some other place where you can be sure he won't just bolt and not come back. Then walk around and start calling him when he is not distracted at all and reward him. Do this very often. Like every few minutes at first. Only when he consistently comes in those situations should you try this when there are distractions. And then release him so he can go back to the distraction! You want to trick him into thinking that coming when called is just a very pleasant interruption that earns him a reward before he goes back to what he was doing. You have to limit the situations where you call him and don't release him again. So don't call him when you want to put him on the lead, instead go over to him without talking or fuss and clip the lead onto him.

    This was already a very long reply and it doesn't even cover all the basics. I highly recommend you do some browsing on this forum and read some posts and articles. There are people posting here who train their dogs to a very high level of obedience and their advice is gold. For most of us it is sufficient if our dogs come when call and have basic manners, but the principles are the same. Just browse in the training and general dog forum or do a search on 'recall'.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    near Sydney NSW


    Perhaps start the recall training with Jonesy at home without distractions and with lots of his fave treats.

  6. #6


    Read Beloz's post, I agree with it 100%. You are going to need to start from scratch and put a lot of hard work in, but it is possible to train this dog.

    I find with frustrating dogs it's helpful to use a sound that doesn't convey emotion, such as a loud repeating clicking sound you make with your tongue. That sound becomes the unambiguous signal for "come here" and it's easier for the dog's mind to listen to it and associate it with an action. Dogs that have been in training for a long time end up immediately reacting to the sound because it's habitual. NEVER EVER EVER act frustrated or angry no matter how badly behaved your dog is. They know exactly how you are feeling, and most dogs will become more disobedient if they think you are becoming emotional. ALWAYS praise or at least pat your dog for coming back to you, no matter how long he's made you wait. He will associate your reaction with the last thing he did - if you act angry when he comes back, then he's got no motivation to come back at all.

    In a quiet environment such as your backyard, start off by making the clicking sound, then rewarding the dog when it looks at you. Then make the sound when your dog is further away, and reward it for coming to you. Then when you've practiced this a bit, take your dog to the park and make the clicking sound when your dog is running towards you. Reward him when he comes within arms length. Then you can start challenging him and getting him to change direction by clicking when he's not looking at you.

    Since he's a Labrador, food rewards should be really effective and you should go for quantity rather than quality. Start feeding him his meals in the park when he's hungry, every time he does what you want, give him a mouthful of dog food. He will very quickly learn that doing as he's told nets some pretty huge benefits.
    Last edited by Mosh; 10-15-2012 at 12:34 PM.

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