Teaching Your Puppy the NO Command
Stop what you are doing right now. Your behavior is unacceptable.
- Verbal Command: “No!”
- Tone of voice: Firm, demanding, sharp and commanding
- Hand Signal: None
Dominating, confident. Ready to take quick action.
Enforcing the command:
Immediately do what ever it takes to stop the undesired behavior. For example, if your puppy is jumping up on something – pull the puppy off while giving the “No!” command.
The following measures may be used, depending on what it is that your puppy is engaged in:
- Sharper, louder tone of voice.
- More dominating posture.
- Shake can and/or squirt bottle.
- Sharp tug on the collar.
- Scruff shake.
- All four feet off the ground.
Provide an alternative:
As soon as you have deflected or corrected the puppy’s behavior, give them something else to do. Don’t leave the puppy in a vacuum, he may decide to revisit the naughty behavior. Giving the puppy something acceptable to do instead is a great teaching tool.
Here are two examples:
- Chewing on the table leg, use the “No!” command, interrupt the chewing, and then take or call the puppy over to another area of the house and give them a chew toy. This teaches the puppy what IS and what IS NOT acceptable chewing material.
- Being wild and unruly in the house, use the “No!” command, get the puppy’s attention, and then put the puppy in a prolonged “down stay.” This will teach your puppy some self control, and reestablish order in your home.
Give your puppy ample opportunity to make the same mistake over and over again until your puppy chooses not to misbehave. Here are two examples:
- Instead of making the table leg inaccessible to your puppy, allow plenty of access (while you pretend not to notice) so that you can make sure the puppy has “learned” the lesson you are trying to teach. In this case, Chair legs – No. Chew toys – Yes.
- Instead of confining your puppy to a crate when they get “out of control,” insist that the puppy be “in control” of himself for a period of time. In this case, the “down stay.”
Do’s and Don’ts:
Be consistent, be patient, be firm, follow through. Do not give this command if you are not going to enforce it. Use it sparingly but effectively. Always, always, always praise your puppy after the command has been obeyed.
Take action. Do not get into a habit of saying “No! No! No!” over and over. Do not beg your puppy. Do not spend time arguing, explaining, or bargaining. Use the “No!” command and then right away make sure your puppy complies.
Speed is impressive to a puppy. It shows that you have confidence in your abilities as pack leader. Be quick to stop, deflect, interrupt, or otherwise correct the behavior.
If your puppy runs away and hides after being corrected, the correction was too strong and must be modified. If the bad behavior continues immediately after the correction, the correction was too mild. Your puppy is not taking you seriously, is not respecting your authority, and the correction must be strengthened.
If the unwanted behavior stops immediately after the correction, but continues to occur on a frequent, regular basis, it may be that you are setting up the behavior by:
- Not being consistent.
- Not following through.
- Not establishing your position of leadership.
- Unknowingly encouraging the behavior.
- Forgetting to praise your puppy for good behavior.
Very Young Puppies:
If your puppy is very young, (6 to 8 weeks) your tone of voice should be sharp and firm, loud enough to get your puppy’s attention but not too loud. Physical correction should be surprisingly fast (but mildly firm).
Each puppy is different, and with few exceptions, every puppy can be trained. This means that you must out-think, out-last, and sometimes out-smart your puppy.
Written by: Shirley Gibson
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