Thanks everyone for your advice.
I know my basenji understands and he does listen to me but he has selective hearing. We are traning on it and he is getting better each day.
Lately, it has become harder and harder to get Cody to come inside from the back yard. He's always had a problem with the "come" command, although we regularly work on it. Even after all this time, although he's doing a lot better than he was last year and we continue to work on it, he's still a skittish B, bolting at sudden sounds and movements from people, and he'll bolt when people (even me) are too close to him while he's outside. When we work on training outside, he always keeps about a 3-4 feet distance between us. If I get any closer, he'll either run off or he'll back up until he's back in his preferred comfort zone. This is also something that has slowly gotten better, though, because he used to have to keep at least 6 feet between us.
Until recently I hadn't worried too much about making him come inside and usually let him come in when he's ready. I suppose it's partly guilt on my part because I leave for school at roughly 11:00 am and return at about 6 pm on most days, so although he's not crated as long as some dogs, he doesn't get to run free in the back yard until after dark. Since he doesn't really like to be outside alone in the dark, he usually comes in after about 30 minutes to an hour. I walk him in the mornings because it's so difficult to get him to come inside now, but he seems to enjoy the walks and new smells. He goes outside to run and play several times in the evenings.
My problem is that now it's winter, and even though he's shivering from cold, he still won't come in. Even as I type this, he's been out for a little over 2 hours; it's 36 degrees and we still have some snow on the ground. I'm sitting by the window watching him, and go out to check on him about every 15-20 minutes (which I regularly do regardless of the weather). The last time I went to check on him, he was huddled under the porch shivering, but wouldn't come out. When I tried to pick him up, he bolted further under the porch where I couldn't reach him. I tried luring him with treats, but it's like he knows I'm trying to get him to come inside.
While I would like to get him to come inside when I tell/ask him to, am I overreacting about the cold? I know it's not nearly as cold here as it is in the areas where some of you are living, but I'm originally from the FL Keys, so to me it feels like I'm encased in ice when I go outside.
Does anyone have any tricks (for lack of a better word) for getting skittish Bs inside? I've tried bribing him with toys, treats, food, etc, which all works only a few times until he catches on to the fact that I'm tricking him. Like I said, we regularly work on basic commands and such, but he refuses to "come" while he's outside, no matter what I bribe him with. The only thing that really works is when he sees my roommate's cat running by the door, but I'm not sure Gizmo would appreciate being used as bait every day.
I would go back to training. Put him on a long line to go out, reel him in when you say COME, give the best of treats and praise. Take in, give great treat. (SMALL so you don't explode him!) Go back out, do again. Make that the routine for the next couple of weeks until he COMES without having to reel him in. Drop the line, work on come without you holding it.
Response to come only works when you make sure every single time you say it, you make him come (ie reel in or go get). Say it ONE TIME, not repeatedly. Like humans, you must build up the neural pathway that "come" is followed by actually getting to you. Some day, a solid recall can save his life. And if he is shivering under the porch, yeah he's cold and you should worry. You could put a coat on him, but the issue is the come command as much as weather.
Btw, I had to do that with my chow/coyotee. Inside, perfect recall. Outside she blew me off. It took a while. I first did what a trainer suggested and used filament so she wouldn't know I had control and the pull might appear magic. Yeah, right. She knew. So I went with a 30 foot line.
Thanks Debra. We tried something like that when I first started Cody's training, but he didn't respond very well to it. Now that he's more confident in other commands and training aspects, it may work better. I'll give it a try.
As for the coat, the last time he wore one, he shredded it. I'm looking for one that is a little more sturdy or that might somehow be a little more difficult for him to destroy.
My own girl is getting a bit smart about the trick I've used to get her upstairs and gated. But the animal sound toys she loves. I'll bang the sheep sounding one and she'll come running upstairs.. I toss it in my room and shut the gate behind her when she runs thru the gate. Course now she just stands right before the gate and goes back downstairs, so I vary the animal sound toys so she keeps interested.
LOL, Lola and I played this very game today. We have a pool cage, but the stinker has figured out how to open the door… she doesn't run away, just digs in the backyard. If I call her, she does the Basenji 500 in the backyard, and when she stops, she has her fanny up and awaits my move. If I walk toward her, she runs another 500.
I normally use the word, TREATS as her motivator, and today, I used the good stuff... shaved turkey. She could smell it, so I threw a little piece to get her to stop running. Once I had her attention, my natural reaction was to grab her collar, but I didn't right away.... first, I had her "sit", and "take it nice", with my feeding hand relatively close to my body. After I gave her a third treat, she was receptive to me petting her neck/quietly grabbing her collar. Once she was in my control, I gave her one more piece, and scooper her up with a bunch of "good girl"s.
Normally, I have a long tether ready for her for the back yard, and when she wants to play outside, I let her run with it on her collar so she can run crazy. I am outside with her, though, so that she doesn't get the rope tangled around her foot or around a tree.
He's so finicky. He'd prefer to be outside even more than he wants food or treats or toys or anything else. Using his toys, food, or treats and tossing them inside only worked the first time I did it. He's too darn smart for his own good.
So, my best bet would be to work on "come" more, and probably decreasing his comfort zone since he doesn't let me get close enough to him to pick him up while he's out there, you think? That will probably be the only way I can get bribery to work.
BTW, I FINALLY got him inside at a little after 5. He's now nice and warm under a pile of blankets.
I say let him stay out as long as he wants…he won't let himself get too cold. In this situation, I ask once, and if you don't come in, you can stay out until you are ready to come in. I also make sure if I am having a dog hesitant to come in, that they get treated EVERY time the walk thru the door...that generally keeps coming in more valuable for them than staying out. I don't turn it into a 'are you ready now, are you ready now, are you ready now?' kind of game
The only caveat to this is if the dog is not coming in because they might be involved in some serious mischief...like cat hunting/cornering...then I will go out and intervene.
Is cody a rescue? seems like many rescues have issues with doorways. which would be the only way i'd be concerned about him too cold outside. in otherwords if he really wants to come in but is afraid of the doorway. Also google "Collar Grab Game".
The main reason I was so worried is that one of the times I went out and checked on him, he had dug a hole under the deck next to the house where I couldn't reach him and he was curled into a tight ball and shivering. The hole was deep enough that, at first, I didn't see him.
Yes, he is a rescue, but I'm not sure if he an issue with the doorway or he just doesn't want to come inside. He definitely doesn't have a problem going out through the door. While he's out, he usually comes to the door a few times and pokes his nose in, but then he runs away. When he does come in, he always hesitates for a few seconds, then bolts inside. The woman that had him before me said he was kept outside, and I'm pretty sure he was kept in a crate or kennel while outside because his paw pads were completely smooth. That may be part of the reason he prefers to be outside… the familiarness of the smells and whatnot with the ability to run around as he pleases.
We have been playing a version of the collar grab game that I've been calling "got you." I'll grab his collar, say "got you" and click and treat. Unfortunately, he'll only do it inside the house since he won't usually let me get too close to him while we are outside, and the sudden movement towards him causes him to bolt no matter what treats we are using at the time.
Maybe try cut up hot dogs? They are smelly enough and you can throw, take some steps back, throw, repeat until you are inside?
My male will sit outside & shiver his little heart out. He doesn't have an ounce of body fat on him but he loves to sit in the backyard and watch the birds and listen to the dogs next door bark and attack bugs. I figure as long as he's enjoying it, let him be.
You could also use his food, if you aren't already. He doesn't get his food until he comes inside. What about a dog door? If coming through the door while someone is waiting there is anxiety provoking for him, he might be happy to come in and settle down if nobody is right there waiting for him.
What about a dog door? If coming through the door while someone is waiting there is anxiety provoking for him, he might be happy to come in and settle down if nobody is right there waiting for him.
Or maybe just leaving the door open ajar so he can come and go and theres no one waiting if thats the issue.
We leave our door ajar and our B comes and goes as she pleases - if we are boring her then she heads off to do something interesting in the backyard.
But i also live in a warmer climate :p so if your trying to keep heat in, leaving the door open for him to come and go might not be practical :rolleyes:
I've started giving him a treat every time he comes in after I close the door while he's on and off the leash… so hopefully that will help in showing him that he will get a good treat every time he comes in. Today is the first day since Monday he's been outside off leash during the day, which is when we have this problem, so hopefully there will be a little improvement. I've learned with him that nothing happens over night, so a little improvement is better than nothing.
Today is warmer, still cold, but a lot warmer than it was earlier this week. We have a saying here, "If you don't like the weather in North Carolina, wait 3 days, it will change." So I don't really have to worry about him freezing, and can focus more on a little training.
My roommate, who owns the house, wasn't really all that receptive to the idea of installing a dog door. It's understandable though; one of her dogs is a digger and likes to dig holes under the fence, so she has to be constantly watched while outside.
In the last house we lived, we were about to keep the door open most of the year, and he came and went as he pleased for the most part. Unfortunately, it's too cold to do that here. I'm going to try opening the door when he comes to it, then walking away for about a minute to see if he will come in. Usually, if I'm standing at the door after he's made it known that he wants it open, he'll just look at me for a second, and then run off. Maybe walking away will help.
I'm not sure, in your situation, I would leave the dog outside until he made the decision to come in. It almost sounds as if the dog had bad experiences inside at the previous home and outside was the only place he could stay or maybe was forced to stay; anyway you now have to counteract all that.
All the good points have been made by others, now you have to put them all together.
Do not let the dog outside without a long lead (long closthesline or whatever); when you say come reel in the lead and treat and praise. You have to be consistent too; use the same word, treat immediately, etc. Also I don't think I would leave the dog loose outside until this is overcome. If possible I would also take the time to be outside with your dog (still on the lead) and play with him and praising and treating for any good interaction he does.
Also you might want to have a special treat just for the come command and for entering the house. He does not get this treat until he comes and/or he enters the house - but make it something really special that is not given except for this purpose.