How many times a day do you say “No” to your dog?
Oh no, the dog is digging at the carpet. “NO!”
Oh jeez, the dog is barking at the door. “NO!”
Good grief, the dog is chasing the cat. “NO!”
Drat, the dog is chewing on the coffee table. “NO!”
Holy moly, the dog is peeing on the rug. “NO!”
Oh my word, the dog is tugging on the drapes. “NO!”
Are you kidding me? The dog is playing chase with my shoe! “NO!”
I got tired (and frustrated) just typing all those things, I can’t even imagine living like that every day!
Would it surprise you to know that I rarely use the word “no,” when I’m training my dogs (and the service dogs and all the dogs that come through my classes)?
It’s true: the word “no” is never used by me to teach dogs anything. Ever.
How does “no” help a dog understand what to do? Sure, it may interrupt your dog from getting in trouble, but that’s a short-lived product — it stopped the behavior in the moment, but the dog will go back and do the same old thing again…until you say “no,” … again. And again, and again, and again.
That’s the trouble with “no.” It’s just an interrupter.
It doesn’t give the dog a clue as to the correct thing to do. Ultimately, you want the dog to know what to do. You don’t want to waste your day “putting out fires” with the word “no.”
Here’s my challenge to you.
Start noticing how many times you say no to your dog every day. Keep a little tally either on a scrap of paper, or just in the back of your mind.
Then, take a look at the things your saying “no” to. Write those things down.
Next to each item on your list, write down what you’d like your dog to do instead of what he’s really doing.
Finally, when he’s doing the wrong thing, that you would’ve said “no” to, ask him instead to do something you’d like him to do, then reward him for that. Here’s an in-depth article about exactly how to do that. It’s short, I promise, and it’ll really help you stop saying “no” so much.
Talk to me. Do you think you can eliminate at least some of the no’s from your vocabulary?
Give it a whirl for a month, then come back and let me know how it went!