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How You Might Be RUINING Your Dog's Recall | Pupford

December 27th, 2023

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While recall is a behavior that takes a lot of practice and persistence, there are some things you may be doing that are actually RUINING your dog's recall... 😳

In this video we will talk about common mistakes pup parents can make when it comes to recall and what to do instead. This episode will help you more effectively teach your dog to come when called!


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One of the most common mistakes I see with recall is when pup parents call their dog to them, and then they do something not enjoyable for their pup.

For example, calling your dog to you, they come, and then you put him/her on a leash and leave the park. Well, if you do that enough... your dog is going to start associating the recall cue with the "bad" thing of leaving the park.

Or, calling your dog to you and then putting them in the bath.

Or, calling your dog to you and then brushing their teeth.

Or, calling your dog to you and then clipping their nails.

You give a cue, they perform the desired behavior, and then... BOOM, a negative experience (in their mind).

When this happens too many times, your dog will start to associate "come" with negative things. And when that happens, your dog will STOP wanting to come back to you.

So, instead of calling your dog to you when you're gonna do something they may not like, YOU should go to them. Or, if you must call them first, give a couple of other cues in between the "come" and the not desirable thing.

If I'm at the park and need to leave, I don't call my dog to me and then instantly leash her up. Instead, I'll call her to me, give a few short throws of her ball once she comes, and then go to her and clip her on the leash.

Simply put, every time (seriously) your dog comes to you there should be a positive experience. Don't let negative experiences immediately follow when your dog successfully comes back to you.

For more recall tips, check out the
Recall Mastery Course!


Devin: This is the Perfect Pup Podcast, helping you build a better relationship with your pup. Presented by Pupford.

Hello pup parents, and welcome to today's episode of the Perfect Pup Podcast. This is an important one. Most of the time, I like to give advice about what you can do to improve your dog's behavior. Tips to be a better pup parent, those types of things. But in this episode, I'm going to give a warning. I'm going to talk about what you might be doing that's actually ruining your dog's recall, or come-when-called. So let's get right into it. We've talked about on this podcast before, there are so many things that you have to worry about as a pup parent, things you're working on. And in most instances, I really do think it's important to focus on, "Okay, what do I want to have happen? And let me focus on those things and work towards those things with my dog to help improve their behavior."

And unfortunately, many times as pup parents, we unknowingly create drawbacks or step backs or roadblocks for ourselves, sometimes without even knowing it. One of the most difficult behaviors to teach is recall, or come-when-called. So you're out, you're at the park, whatever. You call your dog to you and the idea is they come right back to you, sit so nice right in front of you and you do whatever is needed. That's recall, right? The reality is often much, much different. And one thing that I see all the time as I'm walking or running through the park is people doing things that are truthfully, probably ruining their dog's recall. And I'm going to give you a few examples as well as some alternatives to these things that can ruin your dog's recall.

So how many times have you been at the park and maybe your dog is playing with other dogs and it's time to go and you say, "Buddy, come." And you call them to you and they do come and then the next thing you do is clip up the leash or clip your dog on the leash, leave the park and fun's over. Into the car you go to go home and sit on the couch, your dog, not you necessarily, but for your dog to go home and sit on the couch. Or another example, your dog potentially is out in the backyard having a fun time and you call their name. You say, "Buddy, come." And you call them inside. And then you give them a bath or you pull out the nail clippers and you say, "Buddy, come." And comes on over and the next thing you know, you're clipping his nails and he's a little bit bothered.

And what you've just done is you have created a connection in your dog's mind and just through the laws of learning and how that works for our dogs, of sometimes when you call your dog to you, not great things happen. Like leaving the park, like getting a bath, like getting their nails trimmed, whatever it might be. Anything that is inherently not ideal for your dog. If that comes after you give the cue for your dog to come to you, your dog might not want to come to you as frequently. And therefore you start ruining your dog's recall, sometimes without even knowing it. And so, the question of course in your mind might be, "Well, what do I do? Because if I am at the park and my dog's off playing, or if I do need to get my dog to come inside to go take a bath, or I do need to trim my dog's nails, what do I need to do?" Like I have to have my dog come to me and that's where you might be wrong.

You can go to your dog. I know in every instance that that is not a reality, especially if it's, a park open space and you might just need to call your dog to you. But you can go to your dog. You go to the dog, you don't have to give the recall cue. You don't have to say come and you go to your dog when you want to leash them up, you go to your dog and get them and bring them with you when you want to give them a bath. You go to your dog when you want to brush their teeth, you don't call them to you. Every time you call your dog to you, it should have a positive experience on the backend. Whether that is playing, throwing a ball, treats, food, their meal, whatever it might be, it needs to be positive. Because again, recall is such a difficult behavior that if you are unknowingly and not on purpose, creating moments where you're giving reasons for your dog not to want to come to you, then they may not want to come to you.

Another example that I do see of how people might be ruining their dog's recall, hopefully you haven't experienced this, but if you have, you're at a park, I keep using that example. But you're at a park, your dog takes off after something, or you're even in your backyard and your dog starts doing something you don't want them to do. You say, "Buddy, come." Your dog comes back, or doesn't come back to you, right? And you're sitting there, "Buddy come." And you're yelling, you're trying to get your dog's attention, trying to get them to come back to you. And then they finally come back and you scold them, or you get angry or you, hopefully not, but maybe you yell at them, or again, just something that is negative when your dog comes back to you, it does not matter.

And this one has been a bit confusing, but the way it's been explained to me by Traci Madson, dog trainer, who we've had on the podcast before is, even if your dog just ran off across the street into a dangerous place, when they come back to you, you still need to praise. You still need to give a reward because, there again, your dog needs to know that coming back to you is never a bad thing. And every time you give them a reason to believe that it is, they are going to be less likely to come back to you. So, let's simplify it. When you call your dog to you, a not enjoyable thing for them should never come right after, whether it's a bath, whether it's getting leashed up to go inside, or whatever it might be. Everything's different for every dog, but the recall cue should never be followed by something that your dog is not going to enjoy.

There needs to be some type of break in the middle, and this is kind of an interim solution of what you can do. So, for example, if you are at a park and you do need your dog to come back to you and you know you're going to leash them up, what you can do is you can bring them back to you. You can give them a reward, ideally a treat, but maybe it's play. Maybe it's fetch. You know, for me when I do fetch, if my dog's farther away, I might call them to me and kind of give them the notion that we might be leaving. But when they come back to me, I'm going to reward them and sometimes even do one or two more short throws because then there is, again, positive interaction with, "Hey, I came back to my human and I got a couple more throws." And then when you are ready to leash your dog up to leave, clip them up, go to them and clip them up. So again, I know that some of the things that I've said can sound like very hard and fast.

And the reality with dogs is that the way we look at things and the way we talk about things, it's always easier said than done. And I know that there will be instances where this might not seem feasible, and I recognize that it might not be, but generally speaking, have that in your mind of, "Okay when I call my dog to me, what is the next thing that's coming after?" You know, even if you do give a treat, if right after that, you clip them up and leave. I think it's better to just try and put some other behaviors in between that, so that the connection does not get created for your dog's brain of, I got called to my human, bad things happened. I had to leave the park where I'm hanging out with other dogs, or now I'm getting a bath, whatever it might be, you get the idea. Do as much as you can to keep the recall behavior only associated with positive things for your dog. And you will see improvements in their ability to come back to you when you call them.

So, I hope you found this episode helpful. I hope it gives you some ideas on how you can improve your dog's recall training because no matter the dog, we always need to be practicing and polishing the recall behavior. If you enjoyed this episode, share it with a friend, share it with another pup parent that you know, who would benefit from learning how to not ruin their dog's recall. And if you have not, please leave a review on Apple podcast. It's super helpful for this podcast to get found by more pup parents. And it helps me to know what you do and don't enjoy on these podcast episodes. But other than that, we will catch you on the next episode.


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