Saying 'No'

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Dr. Watson

Not a wiener- dawg!
Barked: Sat Nov 24, '12 10:44am PST 
An interesting point was brought up on another thread that saying 'No' to a dog may promote an aggressive response. Unfortunately, the study addressed yelling 'no' -- completely different. 'No' and other similar signals are used by some in the Rplus Pneg community, while reviled by others.

I was reminded of this article: The Magic Words 'Yes' and 'No'. Abrantes discusses how 'No' is aversive only when we do not follow stopping of the behavior with a reinforcer.

He goes on to say:
Forbidding the signal ‘no’ in dog training is a grave mistake (and misunderstanding) in my opinion. Firstly, it is one of the two most crucial signals in life. Secondly we all need a quick, efficient signal to stop a behavior which might be life threatening for someone we care about (human or animal). Thirdly, it would be an untenable waste of time and energy if we had to resort to diverting maneuvers every time someone (our dogs included) did something undesirable.

I do say 'No' myself; my dogs learn it very early on, but I believe I very rarely use it in any sort of aversive manner. thinking

Edited for grammar

Edited by author Sat Nov 24, '12 11:06am PST


The Centurion
Barked: Sat Nov 24, '12 11:07am PST 
I don't use the word No. I have taught my dogs Leave it, stay, come, and I'm teaching all of them to come when they hear me blow a whistle.

There are 2 methods I'm familiar with to teach No are just saying it in a low tone, or correcting with prong collar/spanking the dog so they associate No with getting corrected. I don't see how that will help in a dangerous situation. Now, I bet these aren't the only ways to teach No, they're just the only methods I've heard of.

I like using cues like come and leave because my dogs think they're just doing another trick, and they will happily listen to me. They would rather have a positive cue than a negative cue. And if 'leave it' doesn't work, my dogs would block out No just as well.
Stella- "Blue"

Puttin' my freak- on!
Barked: Sat Nov 24, '12 11:08am PST 
yeah, we're human, I don't think it's possible for us not to use no sometimes. I do use it, although I do try to find more and more ways that I can avoid using it excessively. If I it seems that I am using it too much, then I see my management of a situation or behavior needs to be addressed. For most things I try to rely on refocusing. And agree that it is more of an issue with the whole yell and scream "no, knock it off, blah blah" we all know the type, maybe have even been the type at some point... ending up with a dog that ignores it entirely, or could, depending on how aggressively it is applied or sensitive the dog, turn into an aggressive response. But yeah, I don't think it would be ENTIRELY possible to break the no from my vocabulary, but I again, if I find it's use seems to be increasing, it's really then more of a signal to myself that I am not encouraging the correct behaviors enough.

ETA; When I say no, it never has a physical correction associated with it, it's really just more my natural response word, but it is usually combined with a redirection, such as "no, puppy, stop biting on Blue's face, come here and chew on this instead" They do seem to learn what it means though... maybe because I always do follow with a cue, they sort of learned it means stop what you are doing and wait for next command?

Edited by author Sat Nov 24, '12 11:13am PST



Q.E.D., baby,- Q.E.D.!
Barked: Sat Nov 24, '12 11:22am PST 
Common sense would tell you that there's a big difference between aggressively yelling a word and saying it - ANY idiot should know that. Unfortunately, they don't, and we get ongoing and tedious links about how damaging "no" is. As the author states:
"Of course, some people cannot say ‘no’ properly, but the fact that some people have bad manners doesn’t detract from the meaning or the value of the word itself."
"‘Yes’ means “continue what you are doing right now.” ‘No’ means “stop what you are doing right now.”" "No" is not used as a punisher, it's used as a signal - and guess what? Dogs can tell the difference between someone yelling and someone giving a signal. Remarkable, I know. wink

I\\\'ll do- anything for a- treat!
Barked: Sat Nov 24, '12 11:30am PST 
I speak conversationally to my dog, so I do use the word "no" quite naturally. An example would be, "No Lupi, we're not going for a walk yet, so just relax."
However, using "No!" as an interruptor is something different. It's not so much the word as it is the tone I use that gets Lupi to stop what she's doing and look at me. I try not to use it much in that way, but it's so automatic at times. However, I do make sure to always follow with a positive direction (drop it, stay, etc.) so she has a chance to please me instead of feeling bad that she's upset me.
I'd rather reserve that serious tone for the times that truly require it,
than to waste it's potency.

Eta: Cain, I must have been posting at the same time as you. That was the point I was trying to make as well!

Edited by author Sat Nov 24, '12 11:33am PST

Dr. Watson

Not a wiener- dawg!
Barked: Sat Nov 24, '12 11:34am PST 
If only common sense ruled the world. big grin
Stella- "Blue"

Puttin' my freak- on!
Barked: Sat Nov 24, '12 11:42am PST 
Cain, I don't know that people can, unfortunately. But I agree it should be that easy to know the difference. But I have learned a long time ago to stop assuming the general public is smart lol, even among so called educated at times. I had to interrupt a friend of mine just the other day, when he brought his dog over. The dog jumped on me, which, being a dog person, I know how to respond to and did accordingly, but as I was doing that, my friend started screaming at the dog to get down, which did not seem to phase the dog at all, other than to kind of making it more excited, actually, making me have to repeat my action, which ended with the dog sitting politely in front of me... he's not new to dogs either, one would think he would know better. Some people think if a dog doesn't listen the first time they just have to get louder lol. I had to stop him because his yelling was more annoying than the jumping. (she was off leash in the yard)Then I showed him a better way to respond... no sure he listened, but hey, it stopped the yelling while I was there at least... what ever... she is still a sweet dog, and I still adore my friend...
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Sat Nov 24, '12 11:45am PST 
It really depends on what the integrity of the "no" is. If it is "do as I say or I will punish you!" then you are probably better off not having it, as some people can't deal with "no" unemotionally or without some type of personal offense...which is something you need to really avoid in proper dog training...and many types of dogs do not handle the concept well generally.

Then again, "no" properly introduced as a "must know" command can play on a whole different field. Generally I have found it gets backed up in one of two ways. Certainly the primary one is a reinforcer. Here, the dog equates "no" with "that's not what I want" and will get the dog to do something different. He, in other word, equates no with a reinforcer being on offer and the way he is responding means he won't get it. I know with my Cockers, this one usually does the trick. Balls are Chester world, food is Daniel's, and to them "no" means their favorite thing is on offer, so they will quit.

Now with some other dogs, certainly Giant Schnauzers, you do hit a point where if I hauled a side of beef out or had their special tug....the favorite one they only selectively get a crack at and go bonkers to see....it would not matter. The above approach works, but their drive-i-ness at some point will overwhelm it and they don't care about that silly old side of beef for what they are doing is FAR more interesting. I also find with this breed, which notoriously can crack any training device or approach because they are wicked smart....I mean WICKED smart....it's not like they don't know they will get a treat eventually. Even if it's not until tomorrow, this thing, THIS right here and right now, is of the moment and freaking fantastic! laugh out loud So they will blow it off, because of that intelligence. So with something like this, where the dog can proritize their respective bounties and opt to ignore, my best approach is to condition them via a longline (which they wear when young) that "no" ignored is followed with them being pulled out of a situation. So if they are ignoring my "no" as they trek too far, let's say, just pick up the long line and walk away from the situation with them. Put them in the car, or lead them back home and ignore them...downer laugh out loud big laugh....or if it's in the home, put them in the kitchen, which I always try to have half-doored, to they can put their paws on top of it and see all the activity going on (which in their heads is the Cockers having fun and they are not, lol). So for them, "no" = stop that or the party is over.

So to pair "no" with either R+ or p- is the way to go. No reason to have a cow about it, the whole "NO!, you are offending me!" sort of deal. No either is conditioned quite simply to their being a reward *or* whatever it is they are doing they will get removed from if they don't cease and desist. It's whatever works.

It all links to my credo that training is not for the moments you do expect, but those you do NOT. And to me, you need those safety commands, when something really, really bad is about to go down if that dog doesn't halt what he is doing right this second. When they are a little older, my advanced "no" becomes "DROP!" Heavy, heavy reinforcement for speed. So for the rewards approach, that will be some unfathomably fantastic reinforcer, and for the P- dogs, it's high state drive, where the faster they drop, the faster they get to whatever the stimulus is.

Where are you- going? Can I- come?
Barked: Sat Nov 24, '12 12:06pm PST 
I've always seen elimination of the word "no" as an exercise to retrain the owner and the owner's mindset. It's not that the word itself is harmful (it's just another word as far as your dog is concerned, with only the meaning it learns from you). "No" carries a lot of baggage for we humans, however, especially when used in dog training.

I haven't read the study referenced in the other thread, but my guess is that the dogs in the study that have an aggressive response to the word "no" (18% of them, I think the number was?) do so because at some point they learned that bad things were associated with the word "no."

So yeah, if you don't use it in an aggressive way, and your dog has never learned to associate it that way, then you won't have a problem using it. If I were trying to retrain humans to approach things in a more positive-oriented way, though, I imagine that eliminating the word "no" from their training vocabulary would be a very helpful part of that process.

I went through a short period of never using "no" and then reintroduced it in a neutral way, and now the dogs know it in the way others here have mentioned - kind of a "stop what you're doing" cue, usually followed by an alternative behavior but not always. They get reinforcement for following it and it doesn't seem detrimental to them. They also know "leave it" and the like. There's no real reason that you have to use "no," either; it's just easier for everyone to apply consistently around these dogs' house.

Edited by author Sat Nov 24, '12 12:08pm PST


"Stubborn" dogs- don't need- corrections
Barked: Sat Nov 24, '12 12:31pm PST 
The WORD itself is not harmful. It's when that WORD is associated with something else.

For overly sensitive dogs - like Poppy - even sighing in exasperation causes him to become extremely nervous. But as I said, Poppy is very sensitive. In everything I do, it has to be slow, soft, and always encouraging.

Lobo? Lobo doesn't a flying monkey. Back when I used correction, "No" was often associated with a leash pop. If it wasn't, it wasn't effective. Just a lowering of my voice wasn't enough for Lobo. Once I started learning more about learning theory and psychology, I realized that the only way to get Lobo to listen to "No" was to use harsher corrections than I was already using. (Keep in mind Lobo DID wear a prong) Because I was learning more, I also realized that that would be detrimental to Lobo. So I decided to drop "No" from my vocabulary.

I still catch myself saying it. Sort of like Stella, it's more of a "No, let's go do this instead." But overall, I try not to say it at all. I hope in a few years, when I get my puppy, it will be pretty much completely out of my vocabulary.

So, overall, I don't think it's the word itself. But I don't want to use it for my own personal reasons. I know other trainers who train it in a positive way, who don't use corrections, and I think that's a great idea.
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