I see many dogs with many different symptoms of behavioral issues and anxieties, but most of these varying symptoms are stemming from the same basic problem: the dog never gets told “no”. This doesn’t necessarily mean that these owners are catching their dog in the act and not doing anything about it, it means that what they are doing (or saying) doesn't mean anything to the dog. When dealing with an excited silly puppy that can't think about doing anything but jumping, biting, and scratching, you might find yourself saying “no” to that dog 100 times an hour. Does the dog stop? No! Because he has no idea what you are talking about, just that you got loud and gave him some attention, which is fun!
The truth is, if you aren't telling your dog “no” in a language that he understands, you are telling him “yes”. There are many situations where our dogs do things we don't like, but by not correcting it, we are allowing it to continue and become a patterned behavior. Without getting too sciencey on you, positive reinforcement is the act of adding something (such as a treat, attention, or physical affection) to help increase the likelihood that a behavior will occur again or continue. This is how we teach puppies tricks and basic commands. We ask them to do something, and when they do it, we give them a cookie! Sounds fun, right? Well, what happens when your dog is nervous about the delivery man entering your house and you decide to soothe him with lots of soft and sweet “it’s okay, you’re a good boy” as he's growling, or in an attempt to correct him, offer him a treat. What does the dog learn in this situation? When I growl at strangers, Mom or Dad gives me affection and cookies, I MUST be doing the right thing, I AM a good boy!
If we want to extinguish a behavior, instead of using positive reinforcement, we should be using positive punishment. With positive punishment, we are adding something to discourage a behavior. There are a myriad of options to provide positive punishment to a bad behavior, but what your dog will respond to varies. Some dogs will respond to a deep, angry voice, while others have no problem with completely blowing that off. Some of my favorite tools for saying “no” to your dog are Pet Convincer, gentle prong and e-collar corrections, a bonker, or the totally old-school can of pennies. All of these tools, although vastly different, are used to pair an unwanted behavior with something that will not only disrupt this behavior, but also tell the dog “no” in his own language.
It is important to know that these techniques are not about leading by fear or blind obedience. If any of these techniques truly terrify your dog, it should not be used either at that intensity, or at all, depending on the tool.
Dogs are such an important part of our lives, and we treat them like family, and many of us talk to them like our family, but reality is they don't understand what humans understand. They only know the words that we teach them, so it is important to make sure words like “no” truly understood if we want behavior to change.
Not saying “no” is saying “yes.”
Welcome to Everywhere Dog Blog!
Tips, tricks, and lessons learned from Everywhere Dog and their journey!
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies
Amazon Affiliates Disclosure Policy
Kayla Reilly is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.