Your favorite dog training method for running away/prey instinct and come on command

We have a 5 year old golden doodle who has been wonderful. She walks around the yard off leash always with us several times a day to do her business and walk around. She knows the yard boundaries. There is no way to have a fence in the yard (HOA). We have not needed it either. She follows commands of come and sit and stay, go get things, go find people or objects in the house, right and left hand, etc. Really likable and pleasant dog. We walk with her on leash 4 miles a day usually in the evening. There are lizards and rabbits that interest her but not the deer. She is motivated by rewards of food and praise and ear rubs.

Here is the problem. We live in a suburb that is rural. This morning a herd of deer were outside the back door I did not see. I opened the door to go out with her to do her morning business. She took off after the deer (protecting the yard and prey instinct?) and they of course ran. She went into the wooded area behind all the houses and I lost her for several minutes. She did not come on command. She came back to the house and one lonely deer was still behind a bush wondering what happened to every one. Our dog then did the same chase and I lost her again.
Now, the rest of the day with outside time was normal. Come time to walk, she has her leash on, we get to the street and she she takes off to the wooded area again for several minutes. She has broken the taboo of leaving the yard. Nothing that I can think of has changed other than the herd of deer.

Ideas? Training material you like? Equipment you like?

Both take Least Intrusive Minimally Aversive approaches, and both have “Find a Trainer” links. I’d say consulting a pro who really understands how your girl’s brain works and what it’s likely to mean for future behavior would be the best way to go.

In the meantime, one of the things we were taught at puppy school is to have a bomb-proof recall. We have two dogs and if they take off on me I don’t want to waste my time on their names, so we use the word “back.” And when they do come back to me? It’s like freaking Christmas morning – handfuls of treats while I change direction and they’re getting to eat while falling in step alongside me, lavish praise (“you’re the best effing dogs in the world!” when what I’m really thinking is “next time it’s the dutch oven for both of you!!!”), things you’ve said your puppy responds to well. I won’t say mine is bombproof, but it’s reliable and helpful. I think my husband used it successfully when two dogs who shall remain nameless went beyond our boundary to investigate warbling turkeys.

I’ve also heard that nine times out of ten when you call your dog, to cut them loose back to what they were doing so they don’t associate it with always ending the fun. We do “back” drills, I thank them effusively, and then shoo them on ahead to find the next gross thing in the yard.

We’re on a little over three unfenced acres, so possibly similar surroundings to yours. There have been times where we’ve done a week or so on leash because of a couple episodes of taking off to the neighbors’. We’ve been able to go back off-leash though.

Another thing might be getting a long line of 40’ or so and letting her drag that during off-leash times. It might give you enough time to intervene should she decide to bolt. I’d definitely use it with a harness rather than collar, though!

Good luck. There is very little I can think of that’s cooler than a fleeing deer.


Same problem. Ours is a Lab-Shepherd mix with high drive. Hates deer with a passion. Training works 98% of the time.

For the other 2% we use the wireless containment system. I’m not a fan of shocking anything but I don’t want her to get run over, lost or shot so here we are. It works.

For our full blooded Labs it’s never been an issue. Training and treats stopped them every time. The article above is correct. Make “return” a good experience, not punishment.


Our dog will come back instantly from anywhere from anything to the word “cookie”.

We used to live in a similar setting - pretty rural, no fences, woods and lots of deer. We also taught “freeze”. But that only works if you are with them and see the deer first.

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We have a hound mix, who is wonderful with people, but horrible with big wildlife (bears, coyotes, deer, bobcats, raccoons, fisher cats - we’re SO lucky to have these all). I walk him on a heavy duty very long retractable leash. The only time he gets to run around off leash is during heavy snowstorms. Anyway, we have practiced recall many, many times. I carry a bag of treats that he loves, call him, and he comes and sits to get the treat. When we see other dogs that he doesn’t like, I call him, put him into a sit, and give him schnibbles of treats until the evil dog has passed. But if it were a deer or a bear or any big wildlife, he’s going to try to take off. He would have been a really good bear dog, I think. Honestly, I don’t think that there is any positive reinforcement that would stop him, and I’m never going to use a shock collar on him. So he’s mostly on that very long leash.


Same here - I have a beagle mix and there is no way to train him not to go after wildlife. We can only walk him on a leash.

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You may want to consider the techniques they use to train hunting dogs. They have to roam on their own, come back when called, and stop instantly if there is danger. Maybe check some out at the library to see there are any good ideas. My uncle used to train dogs, teach others, and even wrote a book. I think they use slightly different commands that carry better. They also train with a dog whistle which may help you carry over a distance.


Oh my doG. Husband came in from their morning bathroom run and said our girl started to take off, turned around when she heard him call, looked him right in the eye, and went off where she wanted to go. He said he could see her override him. It wasn’t even a deer – it was a decision.

Forgot to mention these are Briards, older sister younger brother. They are bred for judgment and independence. Sadly someone has made our girl aware of this. Or she broke into the files and found out for herself. :roll_eyes:


One of our dogs is equally willful, to this day (he’s over 10 now) when I call him, if walking off leash, he will look around first to see what good thing I am taking away, before coming back to me.

I have really been working with the clicker and treats and it’s quite helpful, his weakness is horses and he has actually come to me instead of running to check out the horse several times now.

I used Don Sullivan training ( when he was a puppy, it’s a plastic pinch collar and dragging the line (start long and get shorter and shorter.) I can definitely attest to the number of times that puppy looked me right in the eye and, as we say, gave me the middle paw up instead of coming as called.


Hopefully this makes sense. Jog or walk fast with your dog and use the “down now” command. Your dog should drop to a down stay.

So while jogging with us with a choke collar (pure bred Aussie Shepard with an attitude). As you say “down now” you go straight down with your arm to the ground. If their trained with the down command or takes like 2 times to really learn this. Then, go jogging… In the middle of your jog practice it over and over with praise when done. They get it really fast. We used this since in a major city dog’s are everywhere. If my dog was off leash and a huge German Shepard, my dog would go toward it and might run towards it. “Down now” worked better then “come” commands. It gave my dog a chance to regroup and see “holy cow that’s a big dog” instead of not thinking and just reacting. Then the follow up is your recoil commands with praise. It gives the dog a few seconds to think instead of instinct acting upon.

You can do this with a very long lead and just give the command before the end of the lead… Lol… Usually somewhere in the middle…

So throw a ball if they retrieve. Then use the command well before it gets to the ball. Then say “OK” (instead of come), that let’s then go get the ball. It’s their reward. But switch that up with the “come” command

This was also very helpful when we were running and rounding a corner building not see the other dog. The second I did I would use the command with stay (just to make sure), and either go around the dog or have the dog go by us. It worked great.

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Well, you’re fighting a bit of an uphill battle. We used to have Goldens. They were a little roamy, but not too bad. Now our Norwich will shoot out like a bullet. He’s a curious little guy. I figured there was some differences in breed tendencies so I decided to look them up on DogTime. They rank all characteristics 1-5 stars. Wanderlust is the one you are fighting. Golden Retriever, 2 stars. Norwich Terrier, 4 stars. Briard…5 stars! :flushed::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Will try- and report.

Liked the dog time site. Had never seen it before. goldendoodles (she is 75 % standard poodle and 25 % English golden retriever). 3 on wanderlust. Good to know.

Sorry, I spaced it was another poster with the Briard. :crazy_face:


Good Luck… Just repeat,repeat and then repeat. With a trained dog that knows sound and hand commands it goes pretty easy. We did long distance sign commands also but we did sign commands with almost all commands they knew. Great for when the dog gets older and the hearing goes…

@eyemgh… Nice references. Has my dog to a tee…

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When we were in our rural home with 2 dogs, we used a DogWatch electric fence. Both dogs learned the boundaries very quickly. They still had a ton of room to run and could chase deer as long as they didn’t try to follow them into the woods. It was very effective for us and the dogs never challenged the system so were very happy running and playing within the established perimeter. It allowed them to be outside exploring without us worrying about all the wildlife distractions and dangers outside our yard.

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First evening on a leash working on sit and stay after running some. Second night I brought snacks and a rabbit, cat, and deer crossed our path. She is already trying and improving. Today we went around the house once off leash with a more favorite snack as a reward for sit and stay. Will continue to train. Thanks for all the suggestions.


So before u you give the dog a treat point to your nose and say “watch”. The dog should have its head cocked towards yours. Your getting its attention. But if sit and stay with hand signals work (do at the same time), then great but you want to get into a jog and have the dog go down on command. You can have some fun with down and up commands. Funny enough it’s just something different for the dog to do. If you cross a deer or whatever on your jog or walk just use the watch command and point to your nose. The dog should be concentrating on you and ignoring whatever it comes across. All of this is just practice, practice and more practice. We had our dogs sit at every stop or corner so it wouldn’t bolt. We actually had it trained so it wouldn’t cross the street (we live in a major city) in the middle of the street and if I attempted without giving the “OK” command it would pull me back… Lol… But once our first dog. Ran all the way down the block. Sat at the corner and then crossed the street. It was not funny at the time :rofl:, and lots of reworking the dog so that never happened again.

One thing is sometimes the dog won’t listen to you since it’s trying to play and goof off. Even though the dog should always listen sometimes goofy off is just fun.


Good point. I did notice nothing was going to happen if she was not looking at me.

We tried and have pretty much given up on an emergency recall command for our dog (a rescue chihuahua/whippet/chow mix). But one thing we read along the lines above was to use a unique treat associated with the emergency recall word. It should be a particularly yummy one so the dog associates the treat with that one command only, so has extra incentive to return for it.

Sadly our rescue has a mind of her own so we weren’t able to make it stick.

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