Pets' Corner: Our Labrador can't be trained to come back
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Saturday 16 August 2008
We have a beautiful two-year-old black Labrador, who simply cannot be trained to come back. We've spent a fortune on one-to-one training and started to use an electric shock collar on him. Even with this and food, he still doesn't come back. He just finds other dogs irresistible. Please help! Mr and Mrs Mackenzie, Hampshire
First, can I say that I do not agree with the use of electric shock collars on dogs. So-called "E-collars" are used in training as a form of punishment. If you get the timing wrong, the dog can associate the shock with the wrong action. For instance, say the dog is walking towards some children and because he's not coming back, you zap him – consequently he could develop a negative association with children. Some dogs do not come back no matter how much you shout. This is down to behaviour factors such as being very independent or having a strong hunting instinct. You did not say whether your dog is castrated. Castration could help, but only after you seek advice from your vet and get a dog behaviourist to help you after the operation. Even if he is castrated, the behaviour could be so ingrained that it might be almost impossible to reverse; I suggest contacting a trainer through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers at apdt.co.uk. Please let me know how it goes and good luck!
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