I’ll never understand it. I won’t. I’ve tried and tried. But sorry, why do so many people constantly say, “NO” to their dogs and think the dog actually understands them? Just because a dog stops what he’s doing doesn’t mean he understands anything. And if I had to guess, it’s the way the, “NO” is said that interrupts the dog. (I mean come one, who says it all chipper and polite?) But training? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! There’s no difference whatsoever if I said, “Don’t think of pink elephants. Matter of fact, don’t think of a baby pink elephant riding a tricycle down your street right now.” And voilà! You’re probably not thinking about how the stock market is doing.
But seriously, I hear it all the time. “Well I told him NO.” How much info is in “NO” anyway? Is there anything at all, even remotely, driving your dog into the direction of behavior you want? Why so anti-yes? Why not tell the dog what to do instead?
It really is a choice. Saying, “NO” to temporarily stop a behavior with little to no learning, or telling the dog to do something he knows and reinforcing that behavior instead. One way (if done over and over again, over time) will damage the relationship between man and his best friend. The other will strengthen the relationship. Personally, I’d rather not have a dog who wants to take his ball and go find a new home.
Here’s an example. If there’s a smelly sock on the floor, and your dog is about to investigate it, you could say, “NO.” However, you could also say: leave it, sit, down, come, roll over, give me a paw, target, where’s your ball, want to go for a walk, let’s go bye-bye in the car, back up, spin, watch me, sit pretty, bow, heel…… and on and on. (As well as pick up your freakin socks). So, I suppose the sarcastic “down side” is the dog in question actually has to know a few behaviors first. It’s not cool to spout out, “finish” if you’ve never taught it. However, personally I think saying, “NO” is just as much as a “read my mind and what I want” as well.
Just say, “NO” to being anti-yes! Don’t tell your dog to “don’t.”