“NO” is a perfect word; understood the world over. We say it to our spouses, children, siblings, parents, friends, fellow employees; this list is endless.  So why are we afraid to say it to our dog??  Many times the answer is, “My dog will think his name is “NO”!

This is a true account of an experience I had as a trainer many years ago; and similarly many times over again since then. Often I’m hired to train a dog that has been unsuccessfully trained once or twice before by someone who is inexperienced, uninformed and lacks the behavioral knowledge and understanding that is the foundation of training. In this particular situation, the former trainer told the pet parent, that they were to say “FOO” to correct their dog, because if they say “NO”, the dog will think that is his name.  Just in the telling of this, and seeing myself typing it, I really have to laugh at how ridiculous that sounds. I asked the pet parent why their dog did not think his name was “FOO”.

Recently, someone in my neighborhood; let’s call her Susan, told me that she had taken her dog to one of the well known pet supply chain stores that features in store training classes. Susan was told by the chain store trainer to use the sound “EH EH” ( can’t think of any other way to spell that) to correct her dog and never to say “NO” because; can you guess?  That’s right! Susan was told that her dog will think it’s name is “NO”.  Once again, I had to ask “Why doesn’t your dog think his name is ” EH EH”?  Sometimes silence is the best answer.

So, let’s clear up a few things. “NO” is said in a firm, authoritative voice and you should be standing. It’s not a question. It’s not said in a sing-song, please stop eating the couch kind of voice.  Alternatively, when you use the puppy’s name, it is said in a sweet, loving, soft, come to me because I want to hug and pet and play with you and protect and take care of you because I love you voice, and you should be crouched or bending down. As the puppy grows, you can stand up as he approaches  you to train him to sit after coming when called.

The moral of this story is, the puppy will not be confused but the trainer may be incompetent .