The Most Dog Friendly Community Online
Join Dog Forum to Discuss Breeds, Training, Food and More

Dog occasionally goes feral!

Jan Cameron

New Member
Reaction score

Join our free community today.

Connect with other like-minded dog lovers!

Login or Register
Our male cocker spaniel who is one year and ten months old is a good boy most of the time. He is friendly with humans and mostly sociable with other dogs. We have tried to follow positive, praise and reward-based training techniques.

He has lots of energy and loves chasing and catching a ball. When he was a puppy we had no issues getting him back on leash but more and more recently he’s been refusing to come back when called. He doesn’t want the fun to end and when we approach him, he runs off and sometimes posters and gets into scraps with other dogs. This can be after an hour of energetic running, jumping and fetching.

Today it took about half an hour to get him back on leash which is the worst yet.
My wife and I had read that you have to encourage him to return with cheerful instructions and that his return must be a pleasant experience for him. A few of his favourite snacks used to do the trick if he seemed reluctant to return.

Today this wasn’t working so I eventually loudly shouted at him to sit, then down and after a couple of attempts he lay still whilst I put leash on him. We gave him an immediate ‘telling off’ and he appeared to get the message that we weren’t happy with his disobedience.

We have tried to be terribly progressive and not ‘rule by fear’ however it appears that our nicey-nicey approach no longer works!

For info, we are having him implanted to reduce his testosterone next week. I have heard that neutering by castration does not always fix problem behaviour so this a trial run to monitor how it affects him.

Can you advise on how to regain his recall when he’s very excited? I feel as though he loves us but in these moments doesn’t respect us. The tougher approach worked today so should this be used more often?
Firstly it is human to get frustrated - however I don‘t think shouting or fear can ever lead to a positive long term solve with a dog.
You may need a new cue word for wait that is given as a firm instruction as sometimes we (I) make the mistake of thinking we are giving an instruction that is in same voice as „good girl!“ which they may interpret as a request and their response is hmmm maybe/maybe not
All safety cue words should be firm and not the same as when we chat to them and something I have had to work hard on myself when she doesn‘t *listen* as the issue with how I have been delivering the instructions rather than her being disobedient
Just my thoughts 😀
Does coming back always result in being put on lead and, in his mind, end of fun?

If so, do a lot of 'catch and release' with him. Recall, reward (with food, play or whatever) and immediately send him off again so coming back isn't the end of the playtime he is enjoying.
NO dog should be told off for coming back. (why should he come back just to get put on the lead and have a good telling off). He has just done as you asked, he has come back and lay down (which is just what you said) and then he got a good telling off for doing this! Poor chap. Why should he ever wish to come back and then get a good telling off. I can see no benefit for him.

It sounds as if you will have to re train his recall with puppy steps and gentle positive words.
When he is not on the lead or loose and uncontrollably running around, how does he spend the rest of his time with you, where and how is he kept and how often does he go out for walks.
I wonder why he is so excitable !
Castration is not the answer to all problems. Having his "balls" removed will not overcome your problem.
I think that your trial with an implant is a good idea though, and not as final as castration, which may not work any way .
Sometimes being firm works - though in my experience only if you use it little and often. But when your lad did them come back, it would have been better to praise him even more than even as he had obeyed you despite the fact there were other things he would rather do.

One thing you can try is calling him back a few times on the walk, rewarding him, and then letting him go have fun again - so recall doesn't necessarily mean he's going back on lead. Also, don't leave putting him on lead till you're back at the car, park gates or whatever, as he will know that that is where the walk ends. Instead, put him on lead a few minutes earlier, in a different place each time.

Welcome to Dog Forum!

Join our vibrant online community dedicated to all things canine. Whether you're a seasoned owner or new to the world of dogs, our forum is your go-to hub for sharing stories, seeking advice, and connecting with fellow dog lovers. From training tips to health concerns, we cover it all. Register now and unleash the full potential of your dog-loving experience!

Login or Register