How to Say “No” to Your Dog: The Complete Guide

If you are going to teach your dog the basics, our goal will be to teach heel, sit, stay, down, and come. Plus, it is important to teach the “what, when, and how of no”.

Hey, that looks simple, only six things to learn… Well trust me. If your dog can master those six simple things he will be a lot better trained than the majority of the dog population and you will enjoy a greater relationship with a dog that will be a true companion.

The Importance of “NO”

There are certain things that are unacceptable and you must put them in the NO category from a young age.

NO is a verbal admonishment that is given in deeper, sterner voice. If you listen to dogs in natural settings you will hear the bitch say “enough is enough” in a low and gruff voice. Likewise, if you listen carefully you will notice that happy responses most often are in a higher key.

As trainers, we just seem to naturally give our dogs praise and encouragement in a happier and almost singsong type of voice while it seems more comfortable to relay our thoughts by saying no in a lower and slower cadence. No then becomes “No, Bad Dog”. Your dog very quickly gets the point.

All training guides have countless suggestions as to how you stop specific behaviors. Some suggest stepping on the toes of dogs that jump up while others say knee the dog down. I don’t want to get into a whole long discussion of corrections at this time because if you teach the philosophy from the start, the correction and reaction seems to naturally follow.

No means No

If your puppy commits what to you is a “no no” and you verbally admonish him and you remove the cause of the “no no” or you remove him from the area of the “no no” all the while saying “no bad dog,” then it won’t be long before he learns what no means. By the same token some things require a far different response and even on some occasions a swat on the butt may accompany the no response.

I had a trainer take umbrage at my suggestion that certain activities may invoke a swat on the behind but I guess she’d never been seriously grabbed on the arm by a 70 lb. overly exuberant Shepherd puppy.

While we’re on the subject I’d like you to remember that if it is ever necessary to swat a dog it is always done back of the shoulders and on the behind. Okay, enough said. NO means NO and like all other training steps you can’t equivocate or compromise and say no means no sometimes but not the next time when you’re not inclined to make it stick for whatever you reason may be. Always remind yourself that NO may someday save your dog’s life when he goes to dart into traffic or some other dangerous situation and it may save a cat or a small child from an unnecessary bite.

Signals, Commands and Cues

Remember, we said to clearly identify the task you wish to achieve and to teach only the signals, commands and cues that accompany this task and to ONLY teach this task until your dog has mastered this phase.

Well, this is an area which many aspiring trainers and some experienced trainers violate regularly. They decide they’re going to teach the dogs the basics of heel, sit, stay, down, and come. They attach the collar and leash and away they go and start to teach heel for example. Soon the dog starts to follow the jerks on the leash and the trainer offers praise. So far so good…

Then, the trainer offers more praise and the dog feels so proud of himself that he jumps up on the trainer for even more attention and anticipated praise. Here comes the problem. Many trainers respond with, “Stay down, sit and stay there”. In probably five seconds he’s introduced four of the basic command he plans to teach to his dog.

The problem is it’s too much too soon. You see the dog doesn’t understand English, or Russian for that matter, and even if he did it would be too much to expect him to catch on to four things in that short a time while he was being admonished for doing what he perceived as a positive reaction. He thought more jumping up would invoke more praise.

Remember dogs do not understand English. They hear sounds and they associate the sound with a mood and an action.

How do I tell my dog no?

There is nothing wrong with using the word “no” properly when training your dog. “No” should be said calmly and should mean, “That is not a behavior that I want”.

Should you say no to your dog?

When we say “no” to a toddler or a dog, it usually means “stop what you’re doing right now” but a dog doesn’t know that. It knows you’re not happy.

How To Say “No!” In Dog Language (Effectively)

  • Audio (clap, snap, stomp, “Tschhh!”, “Hey!”, etc.).
  • Visual (blocking, coming quickly toward the dog, rising to a position above the dog).

Why You Shouldn’t Say No To Your Dog

The word ‘No!’ is the most over-used term in dog training – and yet surprisingly it has the least meaning to a dog.

How to Train a Dog to Respond to No

Essentially, your dog wants your approval. So, rather than yelling or constantly saying “No”, quicker progress can be made by teaching your dog a ‘no’ signal.

What You Do After You Say No to Your Dog is What Matters

It’s ok to say no to your dog, as long as you’re consistent and fair. It’s what you do after you say no that counts.

Can You Say “No” To Your Dog?

It is ok to say no! No is not a dirty word. There are countless self-help books written on the topic. Your dog will not assume you don’t love.

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

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.

Problems With Teaching a Dog the Word “No”

“No” or “eh-eh” makes the dog associate your presence with those sounds. In other words, your dog learns not to counter-surf, dig, or chew.

How to Train Your Dog to Understand ‘No’

Your dog is naturally going to wait a few seconds and then try to grab the treat. When he does, say “No!” in a firm voice and close your hand up.

Guide to Teaching Dogs the “No” Command

Add more treats and positive reinforcement. Once your dog gets the hang of it, place up to five treats out in front of them, saying “no”.

Learn how to say ‘no’ to your dog

Instead of focusing on saying no, teach the dog what to do. Teach an automatic leave it. Reinforce the dog for staying on the ground.