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Thread: Ignorant puppy problems

  1. #1

    Default Ignorant puppy problems

    We have just bought a lovely Kelpie puppy. She was the last of the litter and 12 weeks old. We have other adult dogs and pride ourselves on being relatively good at training our dogs as we have always had very engaging, well behaved pooches...but we are at a loss here.

    Basically the puppy (we have now had for 2 weeks) is TERRIBLE at recall. We feel we've been doing all the right things - training multiple times per day on and off lead with highly rewarding treats and LOTS of praise. She comes most of the time and when she does we put her in a sit but she's really quick to just jump up and take off. Like she doesn't want affection or attention. When off lead outside she takes off into the paddock next door and will not come back. In fact, it is like she can't hear us calling. If we enter the paddock and slowly walk toward her with rewards/treats she literally just runs. So then we try running from her with all of our dogs in tow...nope! She really goes into another realm and there's no reaching her. We've never had a puppy like this before. I can lay on the ground and act like an idiot which most puppies or dogs would rush to check out and play but she just couldn't care less. I am wondering if she may have been chased around at her previous home and if that's the case what more can we do? Is this behaviour IMPRINTED now?

    Please someone help!!! We need this dog to be a working dog but fear she will be too ignorant for the job as it requires 100% reliable recall. We are desperate!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010


    I dont have much advice for you, i'm sure others will though
    But to me, she sounds like a typical kelpie! My kelpie is just like that, she gets into the zone and wont listen to anyone except for my dad. My Kelpie is very independent and will only listen to my dad.

  3. #3


    Thanks anyway

  4. #4


    Seems you have one of em stubborn ones. Will take lots of patience but if you keep at it and are consistent with your commands, you will get through in time.

    Main tip I will throw in is to teach her her name. Using a clicker and rewards, start in the bathroom with closed door and a handfull of high value treats ( VIP Chicken Chunkers/steak/pork sausage/cheese) and call her name. If she moves an eyelid in your direction, click and reward. 5 minutes and let her go. Rinse and repeat but as you get more and more reaction to her name, hold back on the click and reward. When you get a fast head turn or she is moving towards you, move to a larger room with distractions but go back to step one as far as the click is concerned. Rinse and repeat and move outside where you start again with the click if she so much as looks at you.

    Whole idea here is to show that if you call her name a reward will follow but take small steps and ensure you have a strong connection before you move on. You could then try using a long line to reinforce coming when you call her name.
    Nev Allen
    Border River Pet Resort

  5. #5


    Thanks Nev, I will keep on keeping on. It's a challenge, of course, but I refuse to believe this can't be done. Fingers crossed we'll get there!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    When off lead outside she takes off into the paddock next door and will not come back. In fact, it is like she can't hear us calling.
    You need to build up to a recall in this situation - cos at the moment - everything about the big paddock is way too exciting.

    So you have two choices - don't let her off lead in the big paddock until you have good recall when she's really excited in several different places that you can go get her if she doesn't come.

    Second choice - don't call her when she's in the big paddock or you teach her to ignore you. Just let her run (provided it's safe) and reward her lots when she does come back (without you calling). Try running or running away - farm dogs are often motion sensitive and if she sees you, she may come back to round you up, then treats and praise. Don't call.

    Other things you can do until her recall is better, that will help her recall.

    collar grab game - start inside or somewhere you have complete control, grab her collar, give her the best treat you have (eg roast chicken or minced beef). let go, let her attention wander - then do it again.

    when she's enjoying the collar grab game - you will know cos she will stuff her neck in your hand when you reach for her. Then you can start the name game - say her name, grab the collar, best treat ever and squealy praise. repeat about 5 times.

    between each game have a free game of chase the boss (never chase the dog), or chase the treats (you can use kibble for this), or tug if she likes tug.

    try to keep the excitement level up, and ideally stop the game while the dog is still excited because you don't want her to learn to switch off.

    instant any time sits or drops... once she's learned how to do a sit, and a drop on command, ask for these at random times around the house and reward enthusiastically. You can mix these into any game. The idea is to get the drop/sit automatic so the dog doesn't think about it she just does it.

    sit or drop stays in front of dinner. Most puppies have a spring loaded butt, especially if they think there is a game in it. So practice building her understanding in front of dinner, use a watch with a second hand. first time - just time how long before her butt pops up. Put her back in the sit (in front of dinner), release her to eat dinner - before her butt pops up. So the first night you might get half a second. Next time you might get a second, after that, release her on half a second, ie vary the time up and down but gradually increase the average time. As she gets good at this, try to fake her out occasionally.

    You may also want to play the its yer choice game with kibble in front of the telly. And combine this with the sit stay training.

    Overall be patient. Kelpies notice everything. Puppies get distracted by EVERYTHING. So you're going to have to build your dog's impulse control slowly and patiently in places she has a chance of success.

    Out in the paddock - I would probably let her drag a leash around - so long as there wasn't anything for it to catch on. You can also tie her to a more experienced dog - as long as the experienced dog doesn't get mad at her. But again if there are tree branches on the ground this would be a bad idea.

  7. #7


    Thanks Hyacinth, some really great advice there. You are right about the Kelpie thing, we have an adult male and he has 100% perfect recall but we did a lot of work with him in the beginning and we also bought him at 8 weeks not 12 so there's a big ? over the exposure of this pup to possibly being chased by previous owner or just copying parents behaviour. For some reason this puppy has me doubting myself which is not me when it comes to dogs! Once again, thanks so much.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Geelong, Vic


    keep the puppy on lead until you have cemented the behaviour. You're half halfing the job - sometimes the dog can get away with it, sometimes it can't. That type of unpredictability will mean the pup decides to shoot off and you can't stop it. So on lead until you can let the lead trail behind it and you have better success. It's not impossible you just need more consistency - there's no such thing as totally unfixable.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2012


    The pup sounds like my BC, apart from the well described interventions previously (all excellent ideas), sometimes they take a bit longer to make the personal connection. At one point I thought I wad doomed to having a dog who was only mildly interested in me if I had a treat. Maggie was several weeks with me before the bond cemented. One thing I came across when reading about this was to make time to be quiet and just sit with your dog. I have developed the habit of sometimes just sitting down with her after a busy exercise time ( with her it is balls) I think it has helped her to be calm and enjoy just being with me. She is now absolutely my dog and follows me everywhere but it wasn't always like that.
    STill is distractible but much less so at a year old, drove me dotty at 6 months

  10. #10


    Thank you all for replying, I appreciate your time and will utilise your advice.

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