How to Train Your Dog to Say No
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Teaching your dog to say no can be fun for you both. You can ask her questions you know the answer to in front of friends and have her reply with the answer "no". Not only can this be fun and entertaining for your guests but training with your dog is also rewarding for you. Teaching your dog to say no is another way for the two of you to bond. Your dog is going to love the treats he receives and the attention he gets from you when he does something right. And you will have a dog who knows a cool and relatively simple trick. If you can also get your dog to understand the reason for communicating "no" to you, your dog will be able to make complex independent decisions.
Teaching your dog to 'say no' itself can be quite simple. It is a repetitive command that you practice with your dog over and over until he understands the motions of no and the reaction to saying "no". Teaching your dog to comprehend the word "no" and when he should say "no" to you becomes a little more complicated and will take more time. Teaching your dog how to communicate "no" can be a fun trick, and it can also be a major task if you have a service dog you are trying to train to help others.
You will need a couple of pieces of paper and a couple of chairs to teach your dog the motions of saying no. Be sure to stock up on some special obedience training treats so your dog is rewarded when he gets it right. If you use a clicker to click train your dog, you may want to use a clicker here as well since your dog is used to the click and treat reward method. Be prepared for short training sessions that are repetitive and plan to visit with your dog often to work on communicating "no".
The Finger Signal Method
With a treat in your hands, sit in front of your dog and ask if he wants the treat.
With your opposite hand, using your pointer finger, point and wave your finger side to side saying the words, “say no.”
When your dog shakes his head, give him the treat. Repeat the above steps often so your dog associates the finger shaking no to his head response and the verbal cue, “say no.”
Continue to practice this motion using a treat and a pointer finger asking your dog to say no. Give him a treat each time he shakes his head no.
Once he understands the hand and finger motion and relates those things with shaking his head, ask him questions, expecting the answer "no".
Asking a 'no' question, use your pointer finger to signal to him to answer no. Practice this several times a day for a few weeks and ask others to ask your dog questions with the answer 'no'.
While watching your hand signal, your dog should be able to respond "no" to any question.
The Head Shaking Method
Plan short training sessions that are repetitive and rewarding for your dog.
Treat to sit
Holding a treat in front of you get your dog's attention. Showing your dog the treat, ask him to sit.
Move the treat in your hand from left to right slowly, almost hypnotically, in front of your dog's face.
As soon as the dog moves his head back and forth to follow the treat, allow him to have the treat and praise him verbally.
Repeat this with another treat, moving your own head back and forth from side to side. Adding the verbal command, “head shake” or “say no,” repeat the side to side movement with a treat in front of your dog’s face.
As he shakes his head no, give him verbal praise and the treat.
Keep these sessions short but repeat them often and with consistency. Use the same key phrase such as “head shake” or “say no” each time you sit for a training session.
Praise and treat
Always give verbal praise and a treat each time your dog shakes his head no. With lots of practice, your dog should be able to shake his head no when you say the key phrase command.
The Chair, Paper, Click Method
Tape a small piece of paper to a chair.
Sit and treat
Sit your dog next to the chair. With a treat in your hand, touch the treat to the paper taped to the chair. When the dog follows your hand and touches the paper with his nose, click and treat.
Practice this several times until your dog can touch the paper without following your treat to the paper, clicking and treating every time he touches the paper with his nose. Once he has one piece of paper mastered, add a second piece of paper to a second chair.
Have your dog sit between the two chairs. Practice the same steps above with the same piece of paper.
Old and new paper
When your dog touches the old piece of paper to his nose, put the clicker and treat next to the new piece of paper, forcing him to turn his head toward the new paper and clicker. Click and treat.
The second time your dog touches his nose to the second piece of paper by following the clicker, say the words, “say no.”
Practice this several times, rewarding each time he touches his nose to both pieces of paper with a click and treat and repeating the verbal cue each time. Over time, move your dog away from the chairs and begin only to use the verbal cue, “say no.”
Master at 'no'
If your dog has mastered touching the papers with his nose, he should understand the verbal cue and shake his head no when you say to him, “say no.” Practice this often without the chairs and papers, using only the verbal cue.
By Stephanie Plummer
Published: 01/01/2018, edited: 01/08/2021
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