Dog Training: Why You Shouldn't Tell Your Dog "No"

Dog Training: Why You Shouldn’t Tell Your Dog “No”


When your dog does something you don’t like, what’s your first reaction? A lot of people immediately sternly shout, “No!” And if their canine kid doesn’t listen the first time, they may say it again … only this time louder and longer. “NOOOO!”

Let me ask you another question: Do you really think your dog didn’t hear you the first time? Dogs have exceptional hearing. In fact, canines can hear sounds about 4 times better than us humans. Repeatedly shouting the same command over and over isn’t going to get your dog to listen. Rather, it’s only going to cause your dog stress and confusion. Because, at the end of the day, your dog may not actually understand what the word “no” really means. 

The Problems With “No”

When your dog barks excessively, jumps on guests, chews up your shoes, and digs holes in your perfectly manicured yards, it’s important to remember that he’s only doing what comes naturally to him. He doesn’t know he’s doing something “wrong.” In order to modify your pup’s bad behavior, you actually have to teach him what you want him to do instead.

The two big problems with the word “no”:

  1. It doesn’t teach your dog what he should do. For example, if your dog jumps on people when they walk through the door, it’s much more effective to instruct your dog to sit. By constantly redirecting your dog’s behavior—vs. negatively telling him what not to do—he will eventually learn good habits.
  2. It’s a rather ambiguous command. For example, say your dog is laying on the couch eating some stolen food scraps. If you yell “no,” how does your dog know exactly what he did wrong? Was it bad to lay on the couch or eat the leftover food scraps? 

What To Do Instead

Rather than saying “no” and focusing on the action you don’t want your dog doing, switch your focus to what you actually want your dog to do. Then, clearly redirect and teach good behavior. Here are a few examples: 

  • If you catch your dog chewing one of your shoes then tell him to “drop it” and redirect him to play with an appropriate toy instead
  • If you find your dog sniffing a bug or something he shouldn’t eat then tell him to “leave it
  • If your dog is barking excessively then tell him “quiet”
  • If you don’t want your dog on the couch then tell him “off”
  • If your dog tugs on the leash during walks then simply stop walking and teach the word “heel”

See the difference?

Training Takes Time

Telling your dog what you want him to do isn’t an overnight fix. Set aside about 15 minutes each day to work with your pooch. Over time, this training method will create better communication between you and your canine cutie!