When I have a problem with a certain behaviour, I always look at the bigger picture. A good case springs to mind very recently - a week ago in actual fact!
A women came to me with a spaniel (12 months old) that never came back when he was called. So I said, okay, let's see what he is doing.
So out we go, small field with plenty of bunny scent.
2 1/2 hours later we got him back. Right all you lot say, that dog is soooo disobedient.
BUT, when he was called he would come back within 25 feet. and lie down, If you went to go towards him to get him, or encourage him closer he would just bog off again. Also they have done all the classic recall exercises. And up until 5 months ao this dog was coming back no problem.
So what has changed?
Well the lady is question had been ill and so had started walking him on a Halti (headcollar) so that she could control if he pulled. And when did this happen........5 months ago - can you see the picture starting to build....
If I go back to the start of the walk, when she produces the lead, this dog went and hid and cowered. And she managed to grab him to put the lead on(I told not to use Halti). Now dogs normally don't have that sort of reaction when you get the lead out do they. They know it means a good thing.
Anyway to cut a long story short, the recall has broken down since the introduction of the Halti. So all trust had broken down, as he hated it so much. And the problem being that when he did come back he was wacked straight on that lead/halti, as they had spent three hours trying to get him back. The very thing he hated. So each time he was off the lead, doing the very thing he loved (hunting, and he's no mean hunter I can tell you that!) he had to stop to go straight back on the lead.
SO when we did manage to get him back after the 2 1/2 hours, I did not put him a the lead - I just popped a slip lead over his head, but never let it get tight - so he thought he wasn't on the lead. I walked him back to the car, just encouraging him to walk to heel (which he can do quite nicely, if given the chance) and popped him in the car.
Solution! (and it has worked within a week!) - when they recall him they put him on the slip lead, walk him to heel for a couple of steps, give loads of praise, and then let him off again as a reward. Now he comes back because that trust is back,and by letting have a little hunt again, he never knows if he is going home cos the walk is finished, or if he going to have a little hunt again.
Like I say, you are always learning when a trainer,and it always pays to look at the bigger picture