Do You Own “No! No! Bad Dog”?

Is This Your Dog?

I work with a lot of clients and most of them suffer from this syndrome.  Their dog does something wrong and they shout “NO” or “BAD DOG” at the top of their lungs but the dog barely acknowledges his owner’s presence much less his anger.

When pressed or called the dog runs around the house as if he is deaf and can’t be caught.

An angry game of dart and evade ensues until the dog owner is exhausted and the dog finally gives up.  At this point there is usually some aggression on the part of the dog owner and so everyone loses!

Does Your Dog Respect the NO command?

For many the answer is “no”.


You can Only use the NO command if You Catch Your Dog Misbehaving NEVER AFTERWARD!

People overuse the NO command almost more than any other command.  The second most overused command would probably be COME.

When you overuse a command, it begins to lose its meaning!

People say it “No! NO!  Bad Dog!” but nothing really happens.  They don’t make the dog listen, and so therefore the dog learns that these words mean nothing.

The bad thing is eventually the owner gets angry enough to have some follow through but at this point the dog is no longer associating the initial behavior with the reprimand.

The owner hunts the dog down and reprimands him, but leaves the dog totally confused.  You can never reprimand a dog AFTER the behavior, he simply won't understand!

The only thing the dog really learns is that his owner is scary sometimes and then tries to avoid him when he sees his level of anger escalate.

This avoidance, exacerbates the problem and makes it even worse!  The owner gets angrier and the dog continues to try and avoid and evade his infuriated owner!

You see, dogs aren’t capable of reasoning like we humans are.  A human would say to himself “Gosh, mom is REALLY mad and I am going to have to deal with her sooner or later…sooner will be less agonizing than later.  I am liable to get in more trouble if I don’t come or listen now!”

But a dog doesn’t realize that EVENTUALLY he is going to have to come to you or surrender.  He thinks he can stay away from you forever, or at least until your mood changes.  He doesn’t realize that his behavior is the reason for your rage and with each passing moment it gets worse.

What Do You Do?

First understand from your dog’s point of view and learn to control your anger and your emotions!  We are the “thinking” and “reasoning” animal, we should always be in control of our emotions when it comes to our dogs!  Patience really is a virtue in dog ownership!

Next, change the word or the command.

If your dog totally ignores “NO!” then STOP USING IT and adopt a different command!

I once read a book where the author recommended that a dog’s name be changed if he had had bad experiences from its use or he ignored it completely.  Although I think this is a little extreme in most cases, I also understand that if a command means nothing or something bad when it should be good, it should be changed.

At my house I say Nein (nine) when my dogs do something horrifying and they have been taught to respect this word.

Originally I picked a word that wasn’t normally in my vocabulary.  I didn’t go around shouting “NEIN” in my real world.

So in order to find this word in my regular vocabulary, I had to be pretty frustrated.  I wasn’t going to use it haphazardly or too often.  I was truly irritated when I used this command.

That DOES NOT mean that my anger was going to drive me to hitting or compulsion.  I believe there is never a reason to raise your hand to your dog or use excessive physical force.

What it did mean was that I was willing to go to my dog to change the behavior.  At my house I usually only use this command for aggression; teeth touching me or another animal in my house and so if I use this command I am going to come to you to make sure your behavior stops.

This reliability in the command or word means that my dogs respect the word when they hear it and they immediately STOP showing the behavior in question.

When I trained Service Dogs we had to use the word “Phooey” for the same reason!

“NO” is too easy to use too often, misuse, overuse and often there is no follow up.

Dog training is about consistency!  If you give a command you need to enforce it somehow, whether that is the SIT command or the NO or NEIN or the COME command. If you give a command you need to be capable and willing to change the behavior in question!

Don’t get lazy!  The best way to make sure your dog respects you, listens when you tell him to stop and comes when he is called…is to train with him at least EVERY DAY!  Then listening to you becomes a well-conditioned behavior and he is more likely to do it even during times of stress and excitement!

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  1. Jeanine says:

    My Franny is jealous of her little sister Izzy. She growls and bites her when Izzy is getting any attention. I was accidently bitten by her and it hurts. I do shout “No” but she just ignores me. I will try another word and hope this helps. This is a big problem and Izzy is afraid of her and may get a serious bite.

    Thanks. Jeanine


  2. Anna says:

    I have found that just saying NO doesn’t really work, so I have been training my lab with the ‘leave it’ command and he does pretty good, but when I used ‘leave it’ with the garbage can, the broom, shoes, etc., he seemed to be going to those things more often because he thought he would be getting a treat after doing so. Do I give a reward after he leaves something I don’t want him to get into? Do I try to catch him before he actually gets the object and tell him to leave it, then reward him?


    Minette Reply:

    Catch him first BEFORE, then reward! You can tell him leave it when you know his little mind is spinning toward naughtiness 😉

    You can also redirect him by having him do something else for you like sitting or laying down!


    Sean Reply:

    What about those instances that we can not catch him before he does it? I generally reward with a treat if I can catch him before and praise when he listens after he stole something. Am I rewarding bad behavior?


  3. Kapil dev says:

    My dog is 2 years old. He is a pomeranian dog
    He has an itching problem. Earlier when he came he was afraid of everyone and if anyone tried to even touch him he became aggressive. Then i read an online article to how to prevent him from bieng afraid but that required socialising with the dog step by step . Only i did it and now slowly he became a great companion . But now when his fear went away he became over possesive of me. Now if ANY person comes near me and touches me even in his presence he becomes aggresive and growls,,,, bites.
    He is very playful towards me and never ever bites me. I train him at least once a week.
    My dog has lost trust in Even my closest friends which were there in his childhood.
    Even though his has become an exelent gaurd dog but i dont know how to make him friendly towards ,, atleast my friends. now whenever he comes to me he demands me to scratch him and i cannot see his sweet face and decide not to scratch. He is loyal to me and will only mouth me in the hardest of situations
    . Well my problem is that i think that he his kind of using me ,, cause sometimes he just comes to me and if i dont touch him or scratch him then he becomes kinda mad and starts biting really hard.
    He has a tick problem which has been eradicated quite some times now and i dont know where the fleas and ticks come from. We have a garden but we cannot just keep our dog away from it.
    There are a no of problems which concern me .
    — firstly he does not bite me and he is overprotective to me. He bites all other people though.
    —he demands that i scratch him on the tummy.
    —if i do not do so he becomes kind of mad and sometimes bites really hard which he never did before.
    —as you said on your fourm i now know that my dog DOES NOT like petting but he seems to like it sometimes and so now i know why he sonetimes mouths my hand when i pet him.
    — even if he looks to me with his whites showing when i call out his name he seems to just,, wag his tail a come to me (not aggresive)
    —also he has a very bad slipper fetching problem and when i walk he runs to me and bites my slippers and only leaves when i scream him NO or i allow him to take both my slippers and leave with it
    —sometime i have seen it that he madly bites his thigh(if thats what its called)
    –and i have also seen that sometimes his moods swings from loving me to eating my slippers
    Sorry for the gramatical errors and the long story but please do reply,,, as this is his story from the very beggining. Sorry but i dont know y but i could not post it in any other fourm of yours,,,


    Minette Reply:

    First he needs to go to the vet and be evaluated, if he is itchy or painful this can escalate aggression. Dogs oven bite themselves when they are painful too.

    Please don’t say he doesn’t bite you, as obviously later you say that he does if you don’t scratch you. So he is also aggressive to you.

    You need the help of a veterinary behaviorist coming to your home and seeing the behavior and putting you both on a behavior modification program to help with his aggression. I can’t give advice or “treat” aggression online because I can’t see it and if I say the wrong thing he is likely to become worse.

    Your vet can give you a referral to a veterinary behaviorist.


  4. Michael Glenn says:

    I read that “BEH” approximates the sound the mother makes when training her pups. I use a normal-voice “hey” (a word I rarely otherwise use) as a mild, “cut it out” caution and a gruff “beh” as an absolute “stop”.


  5. Aurora says:

    It has been scientifically established that dogs are capable of reasoning.

    “dogs were able to solve the reasoning task only when they could not rely on social-communicative cues (directional gesture and gaze cues) or could not use any other simple discriminative stimuli (movement of a container) for making decisions. This suggests that dogs are often prevented from showing reasoning abilities by pre-existing biases for social or movement cues.”

    Study: Dogs Show Reasoning Previously Only Seen in Humans ……/study-dogs-show-reasoning-previously-only-seen-…‎
    Jun 5, 2007 – Your dog may be a lot smarter than you think, according to a new study conducted by European scientists. Like many animals, dogs have long …

    Dog-logic: inferential reasoning in a two-way choice … – ScienceDirect‎
    by Á Erdőhegyi – ‎2007 – ‎Cited by 54 – ‎Related articles
    Sep 4, 2007 – However, dogs were able to solve the reasoning task only when they … reasoning in humans continues to be a puzzle for cognitive science …


    Minette Reply:

    I suppose this depends on your definition of reasoning; as reasoning comes in very complicated forms as well.


    Aurora Reply:

    I wouldn’t presume to define reasoning on my own – better to go with science and properly conducted research rather than personal opinions.


    Minette Reply:

    I wish it were that simple. There are many definitions for many words; reasoning is just one of them.

    And, when it comes to dogs the science doesn’t always exist. I too wish it did; but it doesn’t.

    So like anything we define and speculate and hope that science one day catches up.

  6. Blaqlab says:

    I’m looking for the “My name is, ‘No, No, Bad Dog!'” T-shirt (same as the photo at the top). The original one (from ~ 1998) is falling apart & we really want to replace it. Are they still available?


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