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Praise Your Dog, Don't Punish Her

Imagine this scenario: You are at the breakfast table drinking your coffee just before leaving for work and your dog is in the backyard barking at a squirrel in the tree. So you call your dog to come inside and she doesn’t come. You call again and still, she is too busy barking at the annoying squirrel. You call her a third, fourth, and even fifth time. The squirrel runs away to another yard and your dog, no longer distracted by the squirrel, finally hears you and comes running in. Frustrated and angry that she did not listen to you the first four times, you scold her and put her in her kennel before rushing angrily off to work, thinking, “I need her recall to be better.” What did this dog just learn in the interaction? If you think she learned to come inside the first time you called, you’d be wrong. She probably learned that when you call, don’t come in as she will likely be punished.

One of the ways dogs learn is by cause and effect. This means timing is so important! If your timing is off by even a few seconds, then your dog may not understand what you trying to teach them. We often send our canine companions confusing and sometimes conflicting messages. Next time, you call your dog in, even if she was distracted and did not hear you the first time (or second, or third) praise and celebrate your dog when she finally does come in. That is the behavior you wanted. If it is rewarded, it will likely happen faster and more reliably in the future. Of course, most pet parents want their dog to come when called the first time. In order to make this happen, it is important to train to it so the cue is reliable. If this is an issue for you and your dog, we can address it privately or in class. Rocket recall can save your dog's life.

Praise your dog when he comes to you!

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