Lets face it, we aren’t able to communicate with our dogs in the same way we can with other humans. We can’t the dog to go to the store and pick up something for us. However, they do have a degree of intelligence and are more than capable of learning commands and tricks in exchange for a reward or praise. Teaching your dog no is a great first command. It helps them establish an understanding to what is acceptable versus what isn’t. If you are curious, here is a list of 11 commands every dog should know.
No can be a useful command in letting your dog know that they are doing something you don’t want them to. If they start to chew your shoes, get into the trash can, start eating food that they shouldn’t and more, saying “no” can be a great way for them to stop. It’s a really straight forward command to teach and just requires a bit of patience. During training, don’t get mad or yell at your dog. Your voice and body language should be of authority and not anger. If you are lax, they won’t take you seriously. If you become aggressive by yelling or getting physical, then they will develop a fear of you rather than an understanding.
Once learned, “No” can be used in conjunction with other commands such as “No, Come” or “No, Heel”. Since the first command tells them to stop doing what they are doing, the second command serves as a follow up and distracts them from what they were doing. Just remember, dogs are people pleasers and will do whatever it takes to make you happy.
With any training, it’s best to make sure the pet is a little hungry as a food reward is a great motivator. If the dog isn’t hungry, they won’t show any interest in the treat and learning may be difficult. Also, don’t give them large treat rewards. You want to give them smaller amounts to keep them interested in the expectation that more can come.
How to train your dog the command No
You want to make sure the dog understands what the command means. Even if it’s not directly in context to what is going on that you want them to stop doing. Once they understand the intent behind the command, they will be able to replicate it every time it’s given.
A great way to teach your dog no is to simply put a treat in one of your hands. Show the dog the treat and when they start to try and take the food out of your hand, simply close the treat into your fist and say “No”. The dog will sniff and even lick your hand, but don’t give in and give them the treat. Once they stop trying to get the treat and turn away, offer them plenty of praise and provide a treat from your other hand. Do not give them the treat from the hand that they licked as it will confuse them.
Remember to say the command with authority. Think about giving someone an order such as, take out the trash to your kids. It’ll be the same tone to the dog and the dog will understand you are requesting it of something. If you don’t say the command with authority and use a normal happy voice, the dog may mistake the command for something else such as positive reinforcement.
Taking the command No to the next level
You’ll start to notice that your dog will understand what your intentions are when you say no, but you want to make sure that when you say no, you mean it. The next phase in training your dog the command No extends to a couple of things. They will involve getting the dog to look at you and expecting a follow up command and by putting the treat on the ground and having them ignore it.
It isn’t enough to just have the dog ignore the treat in your hand. We want them to also ignore whatever it is and either come to you or look to you for the follow up command. They may have stopped licking or sniffing your hand, but they still have their eye on the prize. It’s time to change this expectation and get them to look at you. After you say no and they ignore your hand, you won’t offer them any praise or treat. The goal is to get them to look at you after saying “No”. Once they may eye contact, then you praise them and give a treat from your other hand.
This starts to instill the mindset of stopping whatever they are doing and looking to you for the next command. Just having the dog stop doing what you want shouldn’t be enough because we may want them to come to us afterwards. What if the object they were chewing on was dangerous or lethal? We want the dog to immediately stop doing what they a were doing and then come to us.
Once the dog understands these two intentions behind the command “No”, it’s time to take it up a notch. The idea now is to put a less desirable treat on the ground and keep the favored treat for the reward in your pocket. Place the treat on the ground and say “No”. You may need to cover the treat with your hand at first until they start to understand the meaning. You will start to gradually uncover the treat on the ground and move away from it. Remember to reward the dog after it makes eye contact with you when it does what you want. That way they understand there is a follow up command to be expected.
Practice in the real word
Now for the fun part. Teaching the dog to still follow the command in a less controlled environment. This can be done with treats in the yard or on your regular walking path. An example is to place a treat on the ground before going for a walk. Then go inside, get your dog ready, and purposefully lead them to where the treat is. When they start heading towards it, tell them “No.” If they start to pull and ignore you, just keep them out of reach of the treat until they look at you. When they do, give them a treat from your pocket and never let them eat the one on the ground.
It can also be beneficial to lesson the amount of treats you give them when they perform the command. You don’t want the dog to become dependent on receiving a treat every time the command is obeyed.
Like any command, you should always keep the training up. It helps solidify your bond as well as keep them well mannered. Teaching a command can take up to a couple of days in order for it to be ingrained. It will require patience and discipline but will be worth it in the end. No one likes an ill mannered dog.