“No” in Dog Training – What’s going on?

So just recently I have had a large amount of my dog training and behaviour clients say they had read, or been told they could no longer say “No” to their dogs…..did I miss the memo in the dog training community? Was their a meeting when we all decided this? Because I want an explanation.

Their are times not to say “No”, or to understand when your dog doesn’t have a clue what the word means. But to be telling people not to tell their dogs off is madness, their are always times when dogs need to know their doing something wrong.

Mostly dogs have no idea what we’re on about as humans, were bumbling, shouting and badly expressive creatures who expect dogs to just understand the English language no lessons on it, or translation booklets. Dogs soon learn cue sounds for rewards such as “Sit” or “Come” as they always have a reward at the end, so are worth following.

“No” is a word they soon learn as well as it has it’s own consequences such as a toy removed, or a game finished. The dog can soon learn that is a cue that means to stop doing something. We as humans just love using more than one word to mean the same thing, so often use “Leave it”,”Give”, “GARRR” or any other noise to mean stop doing that. We confuse the dog with it. We need to stick to one sound and maintain its meaning.

I think the new wave of not telling your dog off is a way to try and reduce the culture of using excessive force to train dogs, such as alpha rolling or booting them when they have done something wrong. It’s an attempt to curb this behaviour, it’s working but I think it has strayed far to far in the other direction now., with dog owners not telling their dogs off for anything. Fearing they will be shunned or ridiculed for being “Harsh” on their dogs. Their needs to be a happy medium with dogs understanding, some sort of cue for “Stop that, that’s wrong”.

“Stop that’s wrong” doesn’t have to be screaming and shouting “No”, or distracting away with something else. It can be as simple as a look, or body language, followed up by a cue word, such as “No”. The dog needs to learn that this noise means what they are doing isn’t right. It isn’t going to be rewarded, but it also isn’t going to be ignored (Which is another worrying trend, ignore bad behaviour?). You are not going to tolerate this behaviour, it needs to stop now.

If your only every redirecting the behaviour, or ignoring it. How the heck does the dog know not to do it? It doesn’t read minds, I know it looks like they understand plain English, but until one talks to me I am going to assume they really don’t.

It is ok to tell your dog “No” when it is needed. When the dog is being reactive, chasing livestock, jumping up or anything that is a nuisance. Dog’s need to know when they are doing something wrong, when their behaviour is not right. It’s not as cut and dry and saying “No” to stop a behaviour, as their are other factors into training. But at the end of the day it is ok to say “No” and owners should not be afraid to say it to their dogs.

If I never said “No” to my dogs, or the rescues I’d have some real problem dogs. They would be all over the place, and uncontrollable with some of the behaviours I have to deal with. If I never said “No” to my puppy it would be ruling the roost for sure!

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