Mike's Q&A

An interactive question and answer forum with expert dog trainer Michael Wombacher for all of your most pressing dog behavior and dog training-related questions.

Recall Training Advice

Q: My lab Pollock has become quite the picnic raider in recent months. When off leash at the dog park, how do we keep him from running off to steal someone's burrito? He's been "rewarded" with stolen food every time. When I finally catch him, I don't even have to punish him, he instantly goes down himself - like he knows he did something wrong. What can I do?

A: That’s a tough one! I would suggest revisiting hardcore recall training. Go back to basics, put him on a long line, bring him into challenging situations and practice recalls (“off & come”) when he is in proximity to his target. Unfortunately he will need some collar corrections to prove to him that it’s not in his best interest to disregard you in this context. If Pollock is smart enough to figure out that he has to be good when you’ve got him on the leash (line wise) then you may have to use a remote training collar. If you go this route be sure to work with someone who knows what they’re doing with this at least for the first session. I’m happy to help out.