Do You Own “No! No! Bad 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”.
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!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.