My dog is bad about coming back to me when off leash, but comes back on her own in the woods. Why?
I've always been curious about why Babe would be so concerned about where I am when we're in the woods together off leash. She runs ahead of me on the trail (and sometimes off) exploring but very regularly looks back to see where I am. She doesn't act that way off leash when not in the woods. What's the difference? What instinct kicks in out in the woods?
Are there any other variables? If everything else remains the same then, indeed, it must be something to do with the woods but if there are other differences, think about how each of them might affect her.
When you take your dog walking. Always carry treats that the dog likes. That way when you call the dog and she comes back. She knows she will receive a reward. Of course don't reward her if she doesn't come back
My guess is that anywhere else she's off-leash she either is more familiar with the area (i.e. near the house or her regular exercise route) or, being out of the woods, is more open so she can see you at much greater distances. Alternatively, if you are at home when she won't come back then she is probably confident she knows where to find you when she feels like coming back. If you'd like to improve her recall, start by calling her from the end of her leash and give her praise and/or a treat when she comes. Slowly work out further until she figures out that when her name is called she will get a reward. I for one am not big on treat training alone, most dogs thrive on the praise and will come just for that, but to start with the treats do add a very nice incentive.
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