Part 1 of this blog a few years ago after a funny incident occurred in my backyard which could have turned ugly. Now I understand that this article could be misconstrued to have different and not-so-positive meanings. Much is said, incorrectly, that positive training, clicker training and not using punishment is producing spoiled, un-mannered, out-of-control dogs.
“NO”, if you think about it, doesn’t really tell the dog anything except that you are unhappy in the situation.
Oh, to the contrary, let me tell you what my dogs do know instead.
If I want them to remove themselves from an object (for instance a bed, or couch or rug), I just ask them. Yes, you guessed it, this is wonderful for cleaning the house when your dog is following you around “helping”. We say “Off,” we don’t yell it, scream it or use any emotional tone in our voice. We just say “Off” and the dog removes him or herself off of the item he/she is occupying. Then, if he’s worth his weight in “cleaning”, he will plop himself on the next thing you want to get at, just so he can keep you the best company he knows how.
“Leave it” is another cue we use instead of NO. “Leave It” means just that. If Fido comes across some savory food on the street, or another species’ treasured poop-type item, or your three year old neighbor’s favorite dolly, I say “Leave it” and my dog looks up at me for further instructions. The key is that he looks up at me WITHOUT the precious item in his mouth. He almost always get some other equally (or as close as we can come to equally) delicious item in return for the wonderful listening and the wonderful behavior exhibited by my dog.
Another great cue to learn instead of the useless NO is “Wait”. I would much rather teach my dog to “Wait” at an entrance, crosswalk, gate, or in the open car, than yell NO and hope he guesses the right answer. If my dog is heading for trouble, I would rather say “Wait” and have him stop, instead of running into traffic or running after something fun and exciting. “Wait” teaches self control, safety. It also gives you a chance to catch your breath on a breathless walk when you just can’t keep up with Fido.
“No” is scary. Often loud.
“No” doesn’t tell the dog anything but disapproval.
“No” doesn’t teach he dog anything but to be afraid of a word due to the tone of your voice.
Positive training is in no way a license to allow humans to spoil dogs and give them a right of way to chaos in the human world. It is a license to allow us to understand the human animal relationship and allow us to be gentle and respectful with them.
We have a communication that lets us treat our dogs with the dignity and respect that they deserve. After all, they are our best friends.