Why You Should not Use “No” When Coaching Your Canine

As canine house owners, one of many first issues we are saying to our canine is “no” to speak with our furry buddies when they’re doing one thing we don’t like – however ought to we? 


Generally you’ll hear canine trainers, or “specialists” say to inform your canine or pet “No!” in a agency voice, or stern tone, and that may treatment your canine’s habits when issues are going flawed, or after they’re getting primary instructions incorrect, however I’m form of right here to let you know that it simply doesn’t assist you get the place you’re going and, truly, will be massively counter productive!

I usually withdraw its use for many of my purchasers and advocate most pet mother and father keep away from it just like the plague! But, contradictory to this, I (as knowledgeable coach) use no in my coaching periods with my canine (I’ll clarify, I promise!) however it sounds hypocritical, proper? However bear with me, I promise it is sensible.


Whereas it’d seem to be a pure method to appropriate undesirable habits, utilizing “no” in canine coaching is never beneficial. On this weblog publish, we’ll discover the the explanation why “no” is normally not an efficient coaching device and recommend various approaches to assist your canine study the specified habits.

The Drawback with “No”

Historically, pet house owners use the Stern “No!” and a waggy finger to rebuke their canine for inappropriate habits from biting, to peeing within the flawed area. However there are a number of the explanation why utilizing the phrase “no” in canine coaching is just not one thing I usually beneficial for the common pet guardian. 


  1. No Has No That means: To start with, No has zero that means, so after we churn our this phrase when our new canine or pet displays undesirable behaviors, they’re going to begin creating an affiliation, as a result of our canines study nicely, they usually don’t need us mad, so, they are going to take in that phrase and construct a sample of after we use it… however it might imply something from Jellyfish to quantum principle to them.
  2. Confusion: There may be an excessive amount of variability in circumstances, timing, and habits, which may result in confusion for the canine. For instance, for those who use “no” when your canine is chewing on a shoe, they won’t perceive that it’s the chewing on the shoe that’s the issue, reasonably than the act of chewing itself.
  3. Could cause worry: we people are chronically unhealthy at managing our tone and frustration with regards to animals. And after we say “No” it usually comes out as “no.” then “No.” then “No!” and rapidly we escalate that tone and that turns into scary for our canines. They might not know what No means, however now it’s a scary phrase.
  4. Realized Irrelevance: The phrase “no” can grow to be topic to discovered irrelevance, that means the canine could lose its understanding of the phrase as it’s used too regularly or with out specificity. In case you always say “no” for varied causes, your canine would possibly begin to ignore the command altogether.
  5. Frustration and Miscommunication: Utilizing “no” could point out that the canine’s wants should not being met, which may result in frustration and miscommunication. As an illustration, in case your canine is chewing on one thing as a result of they’re bored or anxious, merely saying “no” doesn’t deal with the basis explanation for the habits.
  6. Lack of Route: The command “no” is meaningless with out extra path, because it doesn’t educate the canine what you need them to do as a substitute. In case you say “no” when your canine jumps on the sofa, they don’t know what the specified habits is—ought to they sit, lie down, or transfer away?
  7. Counterproductivity: Overusing the phrase “no” will be counterproductive and should not successfully educate the canine what you need them to do. Repeatedly saying “no” can create a adverse affiliation, which could make your canine anxious or fearful, hindering their studying course of even additional.
  8. Punishment Simply Isn’t Required: Fashionable canine coaching (or animal coaching typically) simply doesn’t require punishment like No or bodily correction. We’re past that! And we all know that this coaching technique? Is solely not as efficient in the long term.

No generally is a large downside, and positive, it’s laborious to know the correct factor, particularly when the coaching course of is such a fluid and there are such a lot of trainers on the market telling you ways to do that, or that… However my largest purpose to cease my purchasers saying No of their coaching is…


The Dreaded “No” Cycle…

This is likely one of the worst issues that may occur, notably in puppyhood, however with any canine, and leans into our personal pessimistic nature generally. However a No Cycle, is one thing I seek advice from as after I or my purchasers get into this obsession of claiming No. And the extra we are saying No, the much less good habits we discover. Which makes us come to the conclusion that we’ve got theworst canine on the planet. Which regularly isn’t the case, it’s simply that we’ve satisfied ourself they’re this fashion as a result of we are saying No a lot. 

This can be a massive purpose I ban using No with some purchasers and ask them as a substitute to concentrate on reward to interrupt the No Cycle, and also you’d be amazed, it’s the easiest way to get our canines re-focused.

Options to “No”

As an alternative of utilizing “no,” I’ll all the time advocate we concentrate on constructive reinforcement and educating the canine what you need them to do, reasonably than what you don’t need them to do. Listed below are some various approaches:

  1. Redirect: In case your canine is participating in an undesired habits, redirect them to a extra acceptable exercise. For instance, in case your canine is chewing on a shoe, provide them a chew toy as a substitute. By way of a shoe, I’d most likely advocate a pig’s ear or a cow hoof or one thing that’s obtained that barely pliable, animal by-product vibe a it will meet the necessity that your canine has to chew!
  2. Train and Reward: Train your canine the specified habits or a mutually unique habits and reward them after they carry out it. As an illustration, if you would like your canine to take a seat as a substitute of leaping on folks, use a verbal cue like “sit” and reward them with a deal with and reward after they comply. That is an instance of a mutually unique habits as a result of for those who’re sitting you may’t soar! 
  3. Give good rewards: It sounds easy, however in using constructive reinforcement, we all the time discuss rewards, and that could be a tasty deal with, it could be a tennis ball, it’d even be a real-life reward. However getting that motivator proper, will usually lower the quantity of No you’re feeling you want in your life.
  4. Handle the Surroundings: That is most likely the largest element of ditching the “No”. Stop undesirable behaviors by managing your canine’s atmosphere. For instance, in case your canine tends to chew on footwear, hold the footwear out of attain or in a closed closet! It’s an effective way to be proactive about coaching.
  5. Handle the Root Trigger: Determine and deal with the basis explanation for the undesired habits, akin to boredom, anxiousness, overtiredness, or lack of train. Offering acceptable sleep psychological stimulation, common train, and addressing any underlying points would be the largest step in the direction of remedying any concern.

And don’t get me flawed, you’re going to study alongside the way in which. You’re going to make errors, however whenever you do, you study one thing new for subsequent time, remembering that we actually wish to spotlight constructive behaviors and educate new abilities. 

Observe: Clicker coaching is excellent at getting you to concentrate on the good things, for those who’re struggling and want a strict methodology to observe.

After I Use “No” – No Reward Markers

I truly didn’t use no for a very long time. I discovered it created that “no spiral” for me and added to my frustration. 

Now, I take advantage of “no” as what is named a no-reward marker (NRM) after we’re studying new methods notably with my Shepherd as a result of I ship it calmly! And for those who ship it in a relaxed, even tone and pair it with constructive reinforcement for desired behaviours, then there’s no purpose to not use No — however this can be a very very human downside as lots of people will battle, and I did too! 

I truly began with “Nope” As a result of I might say that cheerily after we had been educating a brand new talent. However that may be tough for brand spanking new pet mother and father, and I get that. So, while I don’t ban it, I encourage my canine mother and father to not use it.

But – I don’t use it with my hounds, as a result of they’re not as sensible within the conventional sense, and I don’t really feel prefer it’s going to realize something in on a regular basis conditions. The place as my Shepherd I really feel is wise sufficient to know the alternative ways I’m marking what he does (my hounds arent silly, they’re sensible another way to Indie). 

The purpose right here, I feel, is that it’s very a lot right down to you. It can ​be used, however it’s very a lot not the strict, grouchy “No!” most individuals affiliate it with.

So keep in mind, if we’re utilizing No as a  no-reward marker, it’s primarily a sign that lets your canine know that their present habits is not going to end in a reward, however (importantly) it doesn’t carry any adverse penalties.

When utilizing “no” as a no-reward marker, it’s necessary to maintain the next in thoughts:

  1. Consistency: Be constant together with your use of the NRM. Use the identical tone and timing every time to keep away from complicated your canine.
  2. Timing: Ship the NRM instantly after the undesired habits happens to assist your canine perceive the connection between their motion and the shortage of a reward.
  3. Optimistic reinforcement: Pair the NRM with constructive reinforcement for desired behaviors. For instance, in case your canine jumps on you and also you say “no” in a fair tone, instantly reward them after they have all 4 paws on the bottom.
  4. Keep away from punishment: Make sure that the NRM is just not perceived as a punishment. Preserve your tone impartial and keep away from any adverse physique language or facial expressions.
  5. Clear expectations: Make certain your canine understands what is predicted of them by educating and reinforcing the specified habits earlier than utilizing the NRM.
  6. Look ahead to frustration: I discover that if I’m not being clear and indie’s not getting it (for no matter purpose!) that rolling it again and making it less complicated is healthier and extra productive over all. I all the time search for frustration in his physique language, however usually when he’s finished he’ll bark at me – and I’m superb with that! That’s his manner of claiming he’s finished and I didn’t make it work for him. I make a psychological word to make that train simpler. Usually although, we hardly ever get to that any extra!

By utilizing “no” as a no-reward marker in a constant and constructive method, I discover it helps to successfully talk together with your canine and information them in the direction of the specified habits with out creating adverse associations or confusion. 

It’s good to notice although, that the jury is out on NRM’s in canine coaching and there’s no scientific proof in its efficacy or lack of efficacy. 

To No Or Not To No…

Whether or not it’s with an older canine or youthful canines, No isn’t wanted to get your pet’s consideration, it’s not wanted in on a regular basis life. It’s necessary to do not forget that our canine’s emotional state  is simply as necessary as ours, and for those who suppose you may handle No as a no-reward marker, then by all means! Go forward. Simply be very, very cautious about that No Spiral.  Canine habits is advanced, however in each day life we have to have a robust technique of speaking with our canine, and paramount to that is using constructive reinforcement. 

In case you’re struggling on this, I can completely assist! Attain out and let’s get you working with a multi-award successful canine coach! 

Creator, Ali Smith

Ali Smith is the Optimistic Pet Knowledgeable, canine coach and is the founding father of Rebarkable. She is keen about serving to pet mother and father get issues proper, proper from the beginning. To assist create a pet able to being a assured and adaptable member of the family and hold puppies out of shelters.

Ali has received a number of awards for her canine coaching, and has had her weblog (this weblog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ finest pet weblog!

Due to depositphotos.com for the pictures!

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart