Every single day I am asked the same question.
Every. Single. Day…
People around the world seem to be fascinated by my ability to get dogs to recall IMMEDIATELY with extreme speed, no matter what environment we are in.
One of my certified trainers frequently posts video of him doing the same thing with the dogs he trains.
He is able to do this repeatedly with extremely animal and dog aggressive pit bulls.
The dogs he trains are always off leash and he recalls them off any prey or competing motivators they face.
These are serious dogs, with serious intentions.
So why am I telling you this?
It’s NOT just me.
Others have learned from me and are doing it.
Everyone who sees and hears about this wants, “Ivan’s secret recall formula”
Well, here it is in 8 simple words:
The emotions of the dog always come first.
Too vague for you?
Don’t worry, I am going to dive deep and give you a complete explanation.
Those 8 words will have a different meaning to you and your recall by the time you finish reading this.
Let’s start with the reasons a vast majority of trainers fail, so you can completely understand how and why my method works.
Skinner’s Emotionless Box
Much of what dog and animal trainers do today came from the research of B.F. Skinner.
I’m sure many of you have heard of him.
If not, you’ve definitely heard of his very famous box.
“Skinner’s box” was basically an isolation chamber.
Skinner was purposely trying to do things in an extremely controlled environment.
He wanted to limit and have control of everything.
But there was one thing Skinner could not control.
In fact, he never even considered it.
Skinner’s box completely eliminated human interaction.
Human to animal relations and emotions had no place in Skinner’s world.
Skinner’s process was mechanical, concerned only with the relationship between a stimulus and the response it created.
It was strictly focused on getting behaviors through reinforcement and punishment.
But that’s a rabbit hole for another day…
Skinner’s approach has dominated dog and animal training ever since.
It is also responsible for the biggest mistake animal trainers make.
If you only take away one thing from this message, please understand this:
Getting dogs to do something through reinforcement and/or punishment is one thing.
Getting them to love doing it with you is a vastly different and superior concept.
Simply giving positive or negative reinforcement in hopes of achieving a behavior will never allow the dog to love what they are doing with you.
With Skinner’s philosophy, the dogs will do things to gain something they like, and/or escape/avoid something they do not.
You do things and the dog does things.
You and the dog are never doing things TOGETHER.
Even if it looks that way, it is a very false picture.
This is the mindset of the step-by-step, formula seeking, “tools for my toolbox” type trainers.
These trainers have very restricted knowledge and a poor approach to dog training.
Skinner’s science also has an extremely limited approach.
There is so much more that goes into dog training.
The proper relationship between dog and human is what creates the real magic.
Science may have no place for emotions and love in their experiments, but I have been conducting my own experiments for over 40 years.
I can tell you first hand, putting the emotions of the dog first and building the proper relationship with your dog will take you places you never thought were possible.
But know this: Every trainer these days says they are “relationship experts”.
It’s the soup of the day included in the “I want to be a dog trainer” starter pack.
I can guarantee you, the vast majority of trainers who call themselves “relationship experts” are not doing what they think they are doing.
If you are still focused on getting behaviors through reinforcement and punishment you are not even in the same dimension of what I am doing.
You cannot create the best relationship with your dog through food manipulation.
This one will get the Facebook groups riled up, but sorry everyone, you just can’t.
If a dog is forced to perform for survival, it is NOT a great relationship.
Controlling their resources is, in fact, an incredibly shitty and forced relationship.
You MUST do, for me to accept and support you.
Nothing about that type of relationship involves loving each other and loving doing things together.
You cannot get a proper relationship exclusively through the use of positive reinforcement or the use of aversives.
You are not going to positively reinforce a dog into a proper relationship with you as so many trainers out there seem to believe.
You are not going to achieve a proper relationship by giving the dog food or toys for behaviors.
What is a proper relationship, you might ask?
You need to know how to get dogs to like you, love you, and want to do things with you, without holding treats, an electric collar remote, or a leash in your hand.
You need to know how to get cooperation, agreement, compliance and authority the right way.
When you have all of those things, getting a lightning fast, rock solid recall is unbelievably easy.
In fact, it’s a challenge for the dog NOT to come to you as fast as possible.
More on that later…
Of course there is a VERY specific way that I teach recall that gets a super reliable and fast recall very quickly.
I do it in a way that allows it to be reliable even when the dog is facing their biggest challenges aka their biggest competing reinforcers.
My recall is NOT taught in a vacuum.
It is NOT taught in Skinner’s emotionless box.
When done correctly, the dog loves me and wants to come to me.
We have a very strong emotional bond.
if you can’t get your dog, or any dog, to WANT to come to you, you really have to ask yourself what is going wrong.
Why is a dog running away from you?
What’s the REAL problem?
Is it really a loose electric collar?
Or a lack of some mystical e-collar technique?
Are your treats really not high enough in value?
Or is it a symptom of a much bigger problem?
My recall video failure.
People constantly ask why there is not a “Teaching the Recall” video in my TWC Training Vault.
I have actually tried to make this video several times.
The last time I tried, Erick showed up to film everything and we took out one of my puppies, a 1 year old Malinois.
His name is Hattori, in case you were wondering.
He knew my recall command just from me calling him when he was out running around the property.
I was excited to finally get this video filmed.
We filmed a small lecture and we were ready for my dog to disobey me and teach him a recall.
We brought out Hattori and Erick started filming.
All the pieces were in place, the video was FINALLY going to come together.
It was a complete disaster.
He came every single time he was called.
I decided to raise the stakes.
I brought out his best friend that he plays with all the time as a competing reinforcer.
He came back every time.
They would be playing together, and if you know how Malinois play, they were playing HARD.
As soon as I called him, he sprinted to me.
We tried and tried.
We never got the opportunity to show how I teach the recall.
Now I want to be clear.
This is a dog I raised as a puppy and he absolutely loves me.
And I love him.
Whenever I teach any dog a recall, it is imperative that I get them to love me, want to do things with me, and come to me when they are called.
That’s one of the reasons the recall is taught quickly and always super fast.
The other reason is the fact that I work WITH a dog’s genetics and nature and not against them.
You see, this is a total package and a complete understanding of the best and fastest way that dogs learn.
There are many moving parts.
This is not a step-by-step formula or isolated technique or tool for your toolbox.
Now I’m going to shock you
Are you ready?
When you take my certification course, I do not actually teach recall.
Yup, you read that right.
Yet, the most astute students get the most amazing recalls with the most difficult dogs.
That is because I teach them how it all works.
I teach all of my students everything they need to know, to teach a dog how to do just about anything.
I teach them how to do it in the best and most effective way possible.
The interesting thing is, I almost never explain how to teach any single behavior.
When you take my course you are taught CONCEPTS over techniques.
These concepts allow EVERYTHING to make sense and enable you to accomplish ANYTHING you want.
Technique chasing trainers are setting themselves up to struggle and fail.
Trying to learn different techniques for different situations and dogs is an endless rabbit hole.
You cannot possibly learn enough individual techniques to deal with all the different and unique challenges you will face with individual dogs.
What you can do, is learn the CONCEPTS that will allow you to successfully navigate any problem, with any dog.
Knowing the proper CONCEPTS will allow you to create a training plan with a much higher probability of success.
Not knowing the proper CONCEPTS leads trainers to blindly do all kinds of ridiculous things just because some other trainer said it works because, “I don’t know why, but trust me, it works, and everybody does it…”
That is one of the most ridiculous qualifiers a dog trainer can use when they are explaining a technique they use.
Well, why does it work?
And is it the best possible way to do it?
Is there a better way?
And please define “works.”
Did you get lucky?
Can you do it with another dog?
What about 10 more dogs?
Did you get results in spite of what you did not because of it?
Dogs are smart and tend to figure things out even when you screw it up.
All of this matters.
It matters a lot.
Especially to the dog.
Focus on learning the proper CONCEPTS and you will know exactly how to do the best possible recall with any dog.
Always put the emotions of the dog first.
The proper CONCEPTS combined with the emotions of the dog are my secret dog training sauce.
It’s time to move on from Skinner’s emotionless box.
We, as dog trainers, need to be better than that.