Say “no” to saying “no”!

‘No’ is a commonly used word in our everyday language. You probably can’t remember how many times you have said it in the past 24 hours but I bet it’s a lot.

When you say ‘no’ to a human you’re sending out a pretty clear message about what you want/don’t want but do you think it has the same impact on your dog? Do you think your dog understands it in the same way a human does? Do you think your dog actually knows that no means no? Or do you think they are just responding to your change of volume, tone and body language?

In reality your dog doesn’t know that no means no. Your dog hears the tone of your voice become more aggressive, the volume probably gets higher and your body language will become more tense and in extreme cases the dog may be physically punished. Your dog will probably stop what it is doing but do you think it has learnt from this? Or do you think your dogs behaviour has changed because your dog is now afraid?

Imagine you are in a foreign country and you don’t speak the language. You are doing something you shouldn’t and someone says ‘no’ in a calm tone. You can’t understand them so you carry on. They suddenly shout ‘NO’ in and aggressive tone and their body language becomes more threatening. Would you carry on with what you are doing or would you stop? You would probably stop, although you still don’t know what they are saying.

Now imagine you are in the same situation however someone takes your hand and calmly shows you what to do.

Then imagine you get paid for doing this as well!

No one is angry, no one is scared, you have changed your behaviour for the better and you have been rewarded for it. Everyone wins.

Now put this into a dog’s perspective.

Your dog is on the sofa and growls at someone approaching. Rather than saying ‘no’ to your dog you have taught it an alternative behaviour such as ‘touch’ to call it down. Not only have you changed the situation to a dog who is potentially resource guarding you have also taught it an alternative behaviour that it will be rewarded for. You are not rewarding the growl, you are rewarding “touch”.

Over time, and with consistency your dog will automatically perform ‘touch’ when a person approaches the sofa because it knows that is what gets rewarded.

Another reason I don’t say ‘no’ to a dog is because they like to be given a task. If you say ‘no’ as opposed to asking for something else your dog may stop for a second but then return to the original behaviour. You haven’t asked for an alternative.

Positive training is all about getting the best out of your dog and building on the strong bond you have.

Modern science has proven that it works ethically and it works morally too.

Until next time, Leanne

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