How to Train Your Dog to Understand 'No'

Medium
3-6 Weeks
General

Introduction

Of all the words your dog needs to learn, none is as important to his safety and your sanity than simply, "No!" When you bring a puppy into the house, it is imperative that you teach him the rules of the house, including what he can and cannot do. After all, he is just like a kid, he has no idea what the rules are until you teach them to him. This should be one of the first commands you teach your dog.

It is also one of those commands the average dog tends to learn as he goes along. Think of it this way, if you tell your dog "No" often enough, he will figure it out on his own over the course of time. But, if you are like most dog owners, you need him to learn this particular command sooner rather than later. 

Defining Tasks

There are many reasons why you need to teach your dog to obey the 'no' command. The most important of these is for his own safety. For example, if your dog suddenly gets it into his head to run towards traffic, telling him 'no' should bring him to a dead stop. Or, maybe your dog is headed to the litter box for a snack--being able to respond to the 'no' command can put an end to his naughty nibbling.

However, you should not have to yell at your pup to get him to follow this command. You need to work with him until he will happily respond to this command in much the same way as he does any other command. While this is a basic command, it is also one that will take a while for your pup to master and one you will use with him all the rest of his life. 

Getting Started

You can teach any dog to respond to the 'no' command, regardless of age as long, as you are willing to put in the necessary work. Younger dogs tend to learn faster and some older dogs "forget" how it works. Since this is one of the first commands you will be teaching your pup, there aren't any real prerequisites. But you will need a leash and a large supply of your pup's favorite treats. The rest is all up to how much time and effort you are willing to put into his training. 

The Hungry Dog Method

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Step
1
Start with a hungry dog
Since this method uses plenty of treats, you need your pup to be hungry when you start, or he may not want the treats.
Step
2
Hold the treat
Hold the treat out in front of you, flat on your hand, approximately 6 inches from his nose where he can see it and, more importantly, smell it.
Step
3
When he goes for it
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 into a fist. If he keeps sniffing your fist for too long, pull it back and reset back to the beginning. Keep working with him until he no longer tries to get the treat.
Step
4
Teach 'okay'
Now that you have your pup responding to the "no" command, it's time to teach him when it's okay for him to take the treat.
Step
5
Working with the command
With your pup sitting in front of you and the treat folded up in your hand, slowly open your hand. As you do so, say "Okay." If he lunges for the food, quickly make a fist so he can't get to the food and try again.
Step
6
Repeat both sides
Work your pup through both commands for as long as it takes for your pup to fully understand that "No" means no and "Okay" means yes or go ahead. Once he has learned to apply this command to the treat, he will learn that when you tell him "no" about anything else, he is not to keep doing whatever it was he was doing.
Recommend training method?

The Starts with Treats Method

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Step
1
Grab treats
If you don't already have a ready supply of your pup's favorite treats, run out and pick some up, you are going to need them. You will also need some form of rattle like a soda can filled with pebbles.
Step
2
On the floor
Choose a room to train in that has plenty of open floor space and place one of the treats in the center of the floor.
Step
3
When he goes for it
When your pup makes a move towards the treat, use the rattle to make a sudden loud noise and remove the treat at the same time saying, "No!"
Step
4
Association time
Over time your pup is going to associate the noise that startles him with being told 'no'. This is called negative action reinforcement. In other words, he associates the rattle with doing something he shouldn't be and with being told 'no'.
Step
5
Keep it up
Keep practicing this until your pup will stop with just the command so that you no longer need the rattle, safe in the knowledge your pup understands the meaning of the word "No" and what is expected of him.
Recommend training method?

The Hand and Treat Method

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Step
1
Start with treats
For this method, you need to put some of your pup's favorite treats in your pocket.
Step
2
Call your dog
Call your dog over and let him see the treat in your hand. As you close your hand, say "No!". Let him lick and sniff, but do not give him the treat. When he finally gives up and backs away, praise him and give him the treat.
Step
3
Repeat
Repeat the above step several times until your pup figures out he gets the treat only when he obeys the 'no' command. Be sure to use the right body language; an upright stance with an authoritative voice will get the best results.
Step
4
Pay attention to me
Along with training your pup to stop what he is doing when you tell him "No", you also want him to immediately turn to you seeking further instruction. To do this, the next time you work on 'no' training when your pup turns away, don't move or say anything. When your pup turns and looks up at you to see what's going on, then give him the treat.
Step
5
More repetition
The only thing left is to keep repeating the training until every time you tell your pup "No", he turns and looks at you. Once you have him doing this, mission accomplished.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Lyla
Dalmatian/springer
10 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Lyla
Dalmatian/springer
10 Weeks

She nips and bites. After telling her no she goes into a frenzy of biting hard lunging and needs to be restrained to stop her hurting us. I have a collar that I can hold to restrain but the minute she relaxes it starts all over again. She is relentless and although exercise would be great we can’t take her for a long walk yet till her vaccinations are complete. We are losing trust in her around our kids and although they are not young theses episodes are frightening them and us. She is gorgeous when tired or when first wakes up and then it seems that it’s a night mare in between. We have toys and treats and have started training to sit and she does it well.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
134 Dog owners recommended

Hello. Here is information on puppy nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Question
Milo
Mini Goldendoodle
11 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
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Milo
Mini Goldendoodle
11 Weeks

My dog does not eat much kibble by itself, so we mix wet food and chicken broth in it and he likes it. Is that ok?
Thanks

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
134 Dog owners recommended

Hi there! Yes, for now that is perfectly fine. The only real argument against wet food is because of dental health. Dry kibble breaks down any tartar or residue on their teeth. So if the wet food continues into adulthood, just be mindful of his teeth and give him plenty of dental chews or even brush his teeth.

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