Hello! and Help!!
Dogs earn off leash privileges in an open area. If the area is not fenced in, then you need to be able to bet $50 bucks in any situation that he will return when you call him. Ember HAD off leash privs until she realized that meant she didn't have to come back while chasing cats/squirrels. Now we are starting over. We're back on a 20 foot line again.
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Gotcha Day: November 14, 2015
Vet-Listed Birthday: May 2, 2014
Ugh, this is the training I seem to be the worst at with my Borders, it has taken me ages and we are still not really there. These little monkeys seem to be just too smart for me and very mischievous. I have a huge fenced house yard in which to train everyday with at least 40mt length. It was all well and good during training and also fine outside the house yard with a 20mt long line but as soon as they were free outside the yard they just couldn't help themselves. Yes they returned but never in a direct line. It was via the southern paddock for an entree of chook poo or the east paddock for a main course of horse poo or the north for a swim in the dam after which they would run back to me through a turned up patch of soil.

Max has been the hardest. Although he is a natural people pleaser he is also quite high drive and athletic. He is just getting there now at 21 months. The thing I have been most mindful of is to not try again too soon. Risking the behaviour repeating too soon is just rehearsing for the future. I go right back to the drawing board, wait at least 4 weeks before I try again and use a different location.

Ember is right, you do need to feel like you might put money on it but at the end of the day you don't know until you jump in the deep end. The first time I tried Max at the river I nearly had heart failure. He had been there often on a long line practicing but when he was free he swam across the river which was only about 8mt wide at that point, ran up a high embankment of very long grass in which he disappeared. On that side there are cattle and electric fences, I couldn't even see him.  

I think Jasper is doing much better. He is only 9 months and he did a lovely recall the other day when he escaped "deliberately" when I was exiting a gate. He was very excited and heading straight for the dam (he loves to swim). When I called he stopped in his tracks and came back.

My only advice would be to not be in too much of hurry with the really important things. Recall can be a life or death thing. They are so highly intelligent and every experience teaches them something and it's not always what you wanted them to learn.
Thanks for the warnings about letting him off his lead too soon.  I'm planning to get a book called 'Perfect Recall' at some point, but it sounds that off-lead walking may be some way down the track, and there are other more immediate issues.   Big Grin

It's actually very helpful to hear that other forum members don't have everything perfect, and that other people get frustrated/anxious too.

We're definitely making progress together, and I think I can see a practical way forward with many of the challenges we're facing.  There is one issue that I'm slightly at a loss with, though: today Dash peed in the house for the third time since he came home with me. The first two occasions (which included one poo) I attributed to anxiety.  However he hasn't done it for 5 days then did it today, in the same spot as before.  I'm wondering if he can still smell his pee there from last time, even though I've cleaned the area with an non-bio specialist liquid.  I don't *think* he's particularly anxious at the moment, in fact today was the most relaxed he's been since he arrived.  Any suggestions would be very welcome.
I don't let mine off leash out and about until they are steady adults. They have to have a solid recall, even with distractions and an immediate down. When I do get ready for off leash work, I use a traffic leash and then a training tab, which is a 6" long "leash", just enough to grab ahold of.
Gotta love 'em.
I agree with everyone else.  Train lots before allowing your dog off leash.  

I am still working on loose leash walking and recall.  We are not perfect.   Rolleyes 

Just something to think about with Dash having accidents.  When I adopted Mattie she had quite a few accidents and then we were accident free for a long time.  Then, after being accident free for a couple of months she had two accidents in less then two weeks.  I was so confused as to why we were having accidents now and then I realized that both times we had an issue I had been gone all day.  Mattie is my dog and is stressed if I am away.  I solved the problem by taking her out the minute I got home.  I think she was stressed from me being gone and the minute I got home she relaxed enough that she needed to go "now".   So with Dash I would think about why he is having accidents.  If you can't find anything then take him out every two hours all day long.  I had to do that for Mattie and it worked (until I was gone all day Tongue ).
Thank you! I'll keep him on his lead then until he's ready.  I was feeling bad about it because when I go to the local park all the other dogs race around and play with each other, and he would love to join in.  And it would be great for him to stretch his legs.

I'll definitely try the suggestions of taking Dash out every two hours, and as soon as I get home.
Hi UK Pete,

Just wanted to see how Dash is going now? I'm sure you are doing a great job with him.
Hi Phoebeandjoise

Thanks for asking!  I must admit I'm struggling with him.  It's become apparent that he reacts aggressively (though fear I assume) when some people are in the vicinity (ie, up to 100 yards away), lunging and barking.  He's also getting pretty mouthy when I try to put a harness on him.   I've left a voicemail for a local behavioural trainer and hopefully she'll be able to fit us in.  I must admit I'm feeling out of my depth now - he's my first dog owner and it seems he might have some real issues.  Sad
For the harness, start with high high value treats. If it's an over the head harness (slips on like a collar, clasps around the waist), put your arm through the head piece. Give him a treat. Keep feeding treats, slowly moving your arm back towards you. Eventually you'll have him reaching his head through the harness to reach your hand. If he shows hesitation push your hand back through the harness so he doesn't have to put his head so close and try again.

Eventually you'll be able to hold the harness out and he'll shove his head through in anticipation of a treat on the other side.
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Gotcha Day: November 14, 2015
Vet-Listed Birthday: May 2, 2014
Be patient with everything.  Ember gave wonderful advice.  I'm glad you have contacted a behavioral trainer.  Sometimes a dog is aggressive but most of the time dogs act aggressive because they are afraid.  When I first got Mattie (rescue, 18 months when I got her and now three years old) she would flatten herself to the floor and pee all over herself in fear when she encountered something scary.  A year and a half later Mattie will lunge and bark over something scary, sort of progress because she isn't so fearful she pees all over herself but not the progress I was looking for.  So I am working on getting her to understand that I will protect her from scary things and she doesn't need to react.

Until you can work with a trainer avoid any confrontation.  If you see something that you think Dash will react to, walk away.  I can't tell you how many times I have been out with Mattie and something has been scary for her and I will say, "Don't worry Mattie...we will go this way!"  and I turn and walk quickly in the opposite direction.  I have had small children ask if they can pet my dog and I have to tell them no, she is afraid of strangers.  It will take time but you will learn how to handle Dash's fears.

And I have to add.  Mattie has challenged me more then any other dog I have owned but I wouldn't trade her for the world.  Helping Mattie through her fears and watching her progress has been amazing.  I am a better person for taking the time to work with my dog and Mattie is the most wonderful and sweet pet anyone could ever have.  She is well worth the effort.

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