Naturally, you must discipline your dog if you want a well mannered companion, and the correction “no” is used by all pet owners. “No! Bad dog! Don’t eat my sock!” “No, Fido, get away from my food!” “No, no, nooooo!” However, being such a popular verbal punishment, this word is often overused or used improperly. In what way and how often should you use the correction “no”?
Make Your Correction Word Sharp and Short
Say “no” in a low, sharp voice. Too often people will say “no” in a normal tone of voice or combine it with silly baby talk such as, “No, no, you bad pupsie wupsie. Oh, you naughty, naughty puppers!” Such tones and words don’t tell your dog that he has done wrong; they do they complete opposite! Verbal corrections must be sharp and to the point.
Don’t Overuse “No”
When a dog hears the word “no” all day every day, he begins to ignore it. Since the word has become a part of everyday life, he pays as much attention to it as he does to the tree in the backyard. Because of this, “no” should not be used all of the time. Not only is it discouraging for your dog to hear so much correction, “no” will also lose its effectiveness. When your dog does something small that displeases you, distract him or ask for a different behavior. Is your dog jumping up on you? Instead of saying “no”, ask your dog to sit, then reward him for a job well done.
Never Use Your Dog’s Name as a Correction
Anytime your dog hears his name, he should associate it with good things – your attention, a treat, a walk, etc. Never use your dog’s name as or with a correction. If you yell your dog’s name when he chews your furniture, will he come to you when you call his name outside? Most likely, no. Because you have turned his name into a correction, he thinks that you yelling it means that he is in trouble. To avoid this problem, always use a correction such as, “No, bad dog!”
Reward for Wanted Behavior
Too often, people forget to reward their dog when he stops an unwanted behavior. Here is an example:
You walk into your bathroom, and Spot is in the act of tearing up a roll of tissue paper. You shout “no” continuously at him, and he stops what he’s doing to look at you. Grabbing your dog’s collar, you put him in a timeout in the backyard while you clean up the mess.
While this seems like a very effective and clear punishment according to you, this can confuse your dog as to what you’re punishing him for. Were you saying “no” because your dog was chewing the tissue or because he stopped chewing? Your dog doesn’t know; the only thing he knows is that you’re mad. Here is how this episode should have gone:
You walk into your bathroom, and Spot is in the act of tearing up a roll of tissue paper. Sharply and in a low voice, you say “no”, and your dog stops to look at you. “Good boy!” you say, rewarding him for stopping. Spot steps towards you, and you ask for him to sit. He obeys, so you pet him. Then, you put him in the backyard so you can clean up his mess.
It was clear to Spot in the above paragraph what he was being punished and rewarded for. Chewing tissue is bad, stopping the behavior and sitting is good. Always remember to reward your dog for stopping the unwanted behavior and to ask for something good he can do, such as sitting.