Training Dogs To Respond

My name is S. I am the proud parent of 2 GSPs a 3.5 year old male named Huck and an almost 2 year old female named Liv. The difference in their personalities is fun to watch but can also be frustrating. I found Huck listened and learned things very quickly and was eager to follow my direction. Liv on the other hand knows exactly what I am saying and asking but is unbelievably stubborn. The biggest issue we’ve been having is with shadows, particularly in our backyard. At night she will bolt out to the backyard and sprint the fence line chasing shadows or wait for a reflection from the door to hit the fence. She will throw her hole body into them and essentially try and take down the fence. Typically, she is obedient with her verbal recall, however at night with shadows she could care less. I have worked with an e collar with her and usually the tone is all I need to get her back in. I’d like to not have to rely on the e-collar every night for this situation. Do you have any suggestions? I’ve tried taking her out on a leash to break the habit but this doesn’t seem to work and it’s not realistic on a consistent basis. Would love your thoughts.

Love the site and all the posts.

Hello S. I need a little more information.  How many times do you let him out at night? Does she use a doggy door? When using shock collar, are you using the tone only? When you say the tone is all she needs to get her back in, does this include when she’s barking at the shadows?  If also using shock, how does she respond? When you take her out on a leash, does she still bark at the shadows?


I couldn’t give you a hard number for how many times we let her out. Whenever the sun goes down and if she’s out the routine starts. Some days we let leave her out there if we are sitting on the porch etc. She does not use a doggy door. Usually when I use the collar it is the tone only. Sometimes it takes two tones for her to respond. Occasionally I have to give her a nick but that has not been the case recently. She doesn’t bark at the reflections or shadows just chases them and jumps all over the fence and looses obedience. If I use the shock she responds. She knows when she has the collar on and if she’s out at night without it she won’t come in at all. It turns into a game or I have to lure her in with moving her leash around and pretending to take the other dog out for a walk. When I take her on the leash she will pull in the direction of the shadows and occasionally lunge.
Thanks for the reply,

First you need to focus on training her to respond to your command of returning. She needs to be consistent. You can try giving her a small treat “baby carrot” when she responds to your call to come inside.  Start when she is outside during daylight, without shadows, and calm.  You needs to be very consistent the first few weeks. Give her a treat every single time she responds correctly.  If she doesn’t respond, you’ll need to go get her physically as you use a command “no jumping”or whatever is appropriate, bring her in and close the door. Let her see you’re disappointed. I don’t know about your pups but mine know when I’m not happy with them. You must do this every single time until she realizes that she doesn’t get a treat when she doesn’t respond to your command and her playtime is cut short.  I personally had the problem with my youngest; however it was barking as soon as she stepped out onto the deck, running towards the fence.  I immediately would go out and call her.  If she didn’t respond, I would go get her and bring her in as I commanded “no barking”.  She didn’t get a treat, she wasn’t allowed to sit next to me on the couch and I would close the doggie door and not let her back out until once before bedtime. When I re-open the doggie door I remind her ” No barking!”  If she barks, I repeat the previous steps.  Sometimes she wouldn’t make it off the deck before being brought back in.  It took several months of consistent reprimand because she is my stubborn and testy one.  Her older sister was much better at listening.  It didn’t take more than a couple of weeks of training with the older one. Then tackle the jumping on the fence. You may need to use a quick shock with a verbal command every time she displays that behavior. She’s smart enough to know when the collar is on so you need to start her responding to your command with the collar. You’ll need to go out with her every time. As soon as you see her engage with anything you feel is going to make her jump on the fence, use your command’ “no jumping”. If she stops, she gets a carrot. If she doesn’t, one tone, if she responds then a carrot. If she still doesn’t stop, a quick shock before getting to the fence. If she stops before the fence and doesn’t jump, she gets a carrot. If she jumps on the fence, she gets second shock as she makes contact with the fence and is brought back inside immediately. It takes time to train pups but in the long run, it saves you much stress. Do not train her until you know you have the time to put into it every time she goes out after dark. Consistency is the key, especially with the smart, stubborn ones. You may want to invite a trainer to give you ideas and tips since I don’t have all the information about her behavior and surroundings. Good Luck Y

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About Simba's Mom

I was born and raised in California, lived in Pennsylvania for several years, and have recently moved to Delaware. I have gone from being a teacher for 20 years to a blogger and now back to teaching but still blogging. I have a great dog named Simba. Simba is a German Shorthaired Pointer. Life with Simba is an adventure every day. I have had dogs my entire life but I have learned most about dogs living with Simba. German Shorthaired Pointers really do become your best friend. They become extremely attached and that is why they say they have the Velcro phenomenon. Simba now has a sister 8 years younger and her name is Gypsy.
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