Leash Tugging, Ignoring when called, & many more...

Posted by LuvmyPitbull
Jul 1, 2011
Hello All,

I am new to the Forum so forgive my ignorance. I have a spayed, 1yr old, American Blue Pit named Alice. I have had this beautiful girl since she was 6 wks and she is my world. Unfortunately she knows this and uses this to put herself in the "Alpha Dog" position. I have just recently found this site and joined so I am now beginning the "Alpha Dog" re-training. However, I am having a few difficulties that are slowing the progress in everything else.

Most importantly, she will not come when called. If she is laying down or playing elsewhere and I call her out of the blue then she will come; if we are playing together or doing any training she will not. She knows I am calling becuase she will stare at me & wag her tail. I can kiss at her, pat the floor or my legs, clap....it makes no difference-she will just continue to stare and then run the other way.:confused:

This also means that any time we are not in the house she is on the leash because I fear she will run off and not come back-I fear this because she has done it & I had to chase her stinkin butt for 4 blocks! Granted, we have had a couple big changes in our lives in the past year that helps to explain her seperation anxiety and inappropriate chewing, but since the day I brought her hom she has never come when called...

I am having several other issues but let's start here as I feel once this is corrected the rest might be a little easier to fix. Please feel free to ask me anything or give me any sort of advice you have.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Jul 6, 2011
Hi luv my pitbull,

Sounds like youre doing a great job of realizing the problem and taking steps to overcome it in an appropriate way. Good luck with retraining - I'm sure you'll do fine since she is still pretty young and you have a good bond with her.

Lets start with just the recall for now. I would first try treats when you're with her, on or off lead, at home or out. Some dogs are very food motivated and this works really well with training. When you call her, hold a treat out and be super excited about her coming back to you. When she comes back, before you actually give the treat, say good girl, and have her sit, then give the treat - dont just give it immediately when she comes back, otherwise she'll get the idea that she just has to dart back, get a treat, and dart off again. You want her to continue listening when she responds to "come".

You can also try squeaky/noisy toys in the same way, especially if theres one toy she loves. Toys are excellent rewards too

Some dogs respond really well to their owners just getting down on their level, so if you havent tried it yet (sounds like you might have) - try crouching down or kneeling and being really happy about her coming back to you.

I know some people who have trained their dogs to "come" with retractable leads. On the other hand, I know people who do not like this idea because they are scared of potentially hurting the dog by tugging them back. Its a personal decision, and I've seen it result in great training experiences with dogs who dont respond at first. A firm but gentle tug followed by immediate praise for the dog moving toward you can help put the idea in the dogs head, so you might try this as well. Remember you are not reeling a fish in so you dont want to pull her all the way to you, just start off with a tug toward you and then give lots of verbal "good girls" and 'good dogs" etc etc once she takes a few steps toward you.

If you say she's obviously trying to assume alpha dog status, then not responding to a call back makes sense - its another way of her saying shes dominant over you and comes back only when she wants to. Try to find something that she'll work for (food, treats, a toy, etc) and work with that to begin with. In addition, definitely keep up with the alpha dog training, it will help for sure!

Keep us updated how you go
Posted by LuvmyPitbull
Jul 6, 2011
Given my dog's size/strength compared to me, I have to use the Gentle Leader style head halter on her so a retractable lead or gentle tugging is out. My main issue now is, like you said, trying to get her not to "dart off" right after coming to me.

On a good note however, she is coming almost immeadiately to the "come" command now but that's only until she turns her head and something shiny catches her attention. Based on what you said though, that's probably because I give her the treat as soon as she comes to me and without giving any command other than "come".

I will try delaying the reward a little and see how that goes. Thank you!!