Having an 8 mos. old puppy with high drive can be a challenge; having her come when she is highly stimulated, nearly impossible. Here in Connecticut the dogs are allowed on some particular beaches to run free until March 31st. That is when the ball drops and there is no more fun on the beach, at least where our dogs are concerned. Just the other day when I decided to go to the beach at what I thought might be an off hour: kid pick up time from school I was very wrong. Being that it was in the high 60s with the sun shining and the fact that Mar 31st is sneaking up on us very quickly it was packed. It was also low tide which draws the crowds; there is more beach then.
It was like a smorgasbord of dogs as we picked our way through them. We always try to hit the "small groups" first; sort of a warm up session before diving into the thick of it. Elsa played happily for a while when she got sight of a big buff yellow lab charging through the water after his ball. At best Elsa is not reliable on her recall in high distraction areas; at worst she is deaf, I mean completely deaf. Under perfect conditions she has an amazing recall; she flies towards me so fast that I often think that she is going to run right through me as she jams on her brakes at the very last moment.
Elsa is a retriever, she has very high drive and for some reason she loves to watch the boys play. She considers everyone with a chuckit in attendance as her own private chuckers and will chase anyone's ball. Although I must say that when she picks up someone else's ball that I can yell out "drop it," and she does instantly. The owners always smile at this because balls are constantly swiped at the beach. So there she was attached to this big boy who was doing his best attempt at ignoring her; she doesn't care. When the owner pulls back and prepares to launch; Elsa is in pounce position. The two side by side ready to go after it.
The owner of the gorgeous lab is obviously there to exercise his dog, not mine. He fakes a toss to the right and Elsa bolts off. He then calls out to his boy that he is tossing the ball in the water out ahead. The dog charges off as Elsa is on her way back; she charges in after him but stops as the boy scoops up the ball. I try several times to call her and seeing that she is at her "deaf" point I stop calling. Continuing to call now teaches her to ignore a call. So I wait; she is completely involved with this dog and his activity, she's loving it. The dog doesn't seem to mind too too much that she is his shadow.
After a good length of time I call just her name and "ball." She actually looks up for a second and is redirected to her chuck it. I now have her attention and toss the ball for her. On her return she spots the big guy again and drops her ball at my feet as she charges off once again to follow him. I have to admit he did look pretty amazing charging through the water after his ball; I understood why Elsa wanted to be a part of it all. So there are no more attempts at a recall; I wait patiently as she slows down and calmly walk and hook her up. She's had more than enough exercise and we need to leave. Being that leaving is a negative in itself you should never ever call them and then leave. Teach them a word like leash which is what I use or simply go get them.
Calling a dog when you know that they are not going to come can undo a great deal of work. We do most of our training at home or under mild distraction environmental situations. At this point I want success and it is imperative to know when there will be no success. We are not at the consequence level yet. In about a month we will start working on consequences; if she doesn't come then I'm going to get her. She will learn that it is a much better outcome if she herself comes in lieu of me going to get her.
When I do have the need to go and get her there will be no anger, just matter of fact and seriousness. When your dog is off leash you cannot force them to come to you, you just cannot. So making sure that they like to come is very important. If they don't want to come then they simply are not coming.