Gunther's Recall Crashed and Burned...

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Giant Shih Tzu
Barked: Sat Dec 22, '12 4:51pm PST 
We took Gunther to the park to play in the snow yesterday (it's fenced in and rather large). Less than two minutes after we entered the park a rabbit ran out from behind a bush and went directly under Gunther's nose and past my leg...

He took off after it, at first a little half-heartedly, but then he seemed to get pretty serious. I called him, did my special whistle, everything.. He just kept going. He only stopped when the rabbit slipped under the fence and ran into the cornfield, but then he was trying to find an opening big enough for him. It was like he was in this nutty little zone, I've never seen him like that! Finally, I resorted to a stern, STAY! And he stopped long enough for me to put the leash back on..

Has anyone else's dog done this after over two years of heavy recall training? Furthermore, have you ever seen a Shih Tzu go after a rabbit like that??

Whippy- The- Whipador
Barked: Sat Dec 22, '12 5:12pm PST 
Just goes to prove really that no dog has 100% recall, no matter the level of training IMO. Some distractions are just far to great to ignore and that bunny did run practically out from right under Gunther's nose wink I think most dogs would have found that hard to ignore.

I hear you about seeing your dog in "that zone". Ty went after a sheep the other week ( took us by surprise coming around a corner in a field that usually doesn't contain sheep ) anyway, he went crazy and was extremely hard to gain control of. I was ignored for a good 10 minutes or so up until i approached him and started giving him firmer commands. He's an incredibly sensitive dog but in full prey drive mode as he was in this situation, he becomes much "harder" and when he nearly pulled my arm out it's socket once back on lead in an attempt to lunge at the sheep and i gave him a small but firm tug back he didn't even flinch. Usually any kind of lead correction has him worried and i don't use them because of that reason. Only in circumstances such as we were in.

He also chases rabbits too but i've found that he always comes back and is never gone for long. I never lose sight of him anyway.
Thor CGC

God of Thunder
Barked: Sat Dec 22, '12 6:39pm PST 
A dog can have a 100% down though, followed by a recall.

Thor was literally a foot behind an animal and at least 100 ft away from me, in the dark. I told him to down, then come. I couldn't see him, but sure enough he came.

If you work hard enough on obedience your dog will listen no matter the distraction. My dog is a BC mix and will stop even when he is in full prey mode.

Jackson Tan

Lad about town
Barked: Sat Dec 22, '12 7:58pm PST 
It's happened to me too, on cars, on rabbits, except JT will find the gate and just leave. They do just seem to get in a zone. As it's apparent to me now his recall is not as proofed as I believed, I am much more strict with the leash now, and only let him off places where he has positively nowhere to go if he chases something. It's a horrible feeling seeing your dog leave, and knowing there's only a chance of him obeying a down.
Faith Free- CGC

I Wuff You!
Barked: Sat Dec 22, '12 9:49pm PST 
It happened with my 6 year old Dane, who usually comes right when called and doesn't stray far from my side. We were hiking at a local county park and she caught scent of a coyote trail and took off. No matter how loud I called her, she was on a mission. She finally stopped when i yelled stay which made her fall into the creek and stayed long enough to grab her leash again. I guess her recall isn't 100% as i thought.

Belly Rub! Belly- Rub!
Barked: Sun Dec 23, '12 9:40am PST 
I'm so sorry! I know how disheartening that is, but don't worry. I'm sure you guys will be fine. Something similar happened to me recently when I took to Bhaira to a stream full of fish. She'd been in rivers before, but not with so many fish in them, and it took me completely by surprise how nutso she went. She started chasing fish up and down the stream, and would not come even close to me when I called. I could have set myself on fire and she wouldn't have noticed. I had no choice but to wait it out, and thought for sure her recall was shot to hell.

I went back a few days later armed with a long length of rope (to reel her back in case she tried to ignore me again) and skirt steak. We did a little training session close to (but not next to) the river. At the end, I released her into the river as a reward. When I called her back, she stopped her fish chase and came over, got a healthy dose of steak, and was allowed to go back to chasing fish. We haven't had any issues since then. Of course, every once in a while we do a "river recall" training session to keep it up.

Now that you know his rabbit-weakness, maybe you can try to set up a little practice for him. I'm not quite sure how since you'd need rabbit helpers. We did some iguana-chasing training, it may be similar. If you are interested we can throw around ideas.

Giant Shih Tzu
Barked: Sun Dec 23, '12 1:37pm PST 
Thank you so much for all of the responses, you guys! I enjoyed reading through them. Nice to know (sort of!) that this also happens to other people. I mean, it's understandable with someone who hasn't worked extensively on recall with their dog, but when they just go off like they're deaf despite training, it's a bit of a shock. I agree that having the rabbit go directly under his nose would be difficult to ignore!

Ty - Yeah, I'm kind of iffy on most dogs being able to have 100% recall. I mean, dogs will be dogs. I'm rarely stern with Gunther but when he was acting wild by that fence I said "STAY!" Sternly enough to kind of spook him. It worked, at least.

Thor - I do see your point. Especially after watching a few of Kikopup's videos! Her dogs all have a pretty rock-solid down.

Jackson - I know... I'll probably go back to the long line and take a few steps back. He's still pretty young, and the rabbit was just VERY exciting for him. It's odd though, because he has a really low prey drive. He wouldn't dream of harming one of my hamsters. He ignores them completely. I think it was just a very primal chase instinct.

Faith - She is beautiful, by the way! I'm glad you were able to catch up with her like I was with Gunther, and it seems both of our dogs at least know we mean business when we tell them to stay. I was grateful for that!

Bhaira - That was a fantastic technique to get her to keep her cool at the river! I think there are ways I could get him to at least break the chase of an object and work on recall that way. Calling him back in mid chase of a toy or something else he finds exciting. It would be a start anyway.

Buddha Dog
Barked: Mon Dec 24, '12 7:46pm PST 
Gunther looks so much like our Shih Tzu named Gigi!

Sorry you had this experience with him. I'm finding that Gigi is very, very obedient -- even at 9 months old.

Our Tibetan Spaniel, who is pictured in the profile pic, is another story. He is two and we have taken him to classes and private training. His recall is poor despite constant reinforcement. We knew this about the breed, that they are willful and stubborn -- but I have come to realize that he can never be off leash outside of our fenced backyard or fenced dog park (and even in the dog park I hover around the entrance, in case he tries to dart out when someone exits or enters).

Barked: Tue Dec 25, '12 10:05am PST 
With Kato, I find there are only 2 gaps where I can call him off of something like that.

Right in the beginning, there is a narrow window where he just instinctively starts chasing but it's like in his mind he hasn't quite made the choice to commit. That's where I can get him off. But that is a very short window. The other is once the animal is gone. I can toss a leave it at him and he'll begrudgingly comply. He'll still be a bit wired about it though.

Other than that, I just let him go and have a good chase. I know the recall is going to fail, so I don't bother with it then.