Why Not to Say “No” to Your Dog

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I “grew up” in the rescue community. I always did my best to find the homes of strays that I found on the street. And even though my parents didn’t let me foster animals, my neighbors were kind enough to let me into their homes to help them with their pets and fosters. In general, for people in rescue, training is not a priority. They want to get the dogs healthy and adopted out so that they can go on and save the next.  Training takes a lot of time. However, in the big rush of things, dogs get punished for things that they were set up to fail at. In particular, I remember the spray water bottles, the occasional “NO!”, or other things such as pennies in a can to keep the dogs from getting in trouble. Don’t get me wrong, foster homes LOVE their animals or they wouldn’t foster! However, this leads me to my point for today. Correcting or punishing your dog damages your relationship – even if you think it doesn’t! 

Your dog WANTS to believe that only good things come from you. But each time they hear “No”, their trust and faith in you diminishes and they can get confused. It’s not fair to blame the dog because dogs will be dogs. As their guardians, it is up to us to set them up for success. We are the ones who need to teach them how to act appropriately. If they have never been taught HOW to act, then how can we expect them to act appropriately.  Dogs are predictable so it is up to us to teach them proper behavior.

  • Teach your dog how to act appropriately by rewarding the right behaviors.
  • Generalize appropriate behaviors by practicing with different people and in different environments.
  • Don’t let them practice bad behaviors (such as barking or jumping). Remove them or block them from any environment where you know it is possible that they will act that way.
  • Redirect your dog when they are doing something “bad”. Use a stuffed Kong, toys, or treats!
  • Don’t expect your dog to know what to do.

So next time, before you go to say “No” to your dog, ask yourself, “what did I do that led him to act this way?” And as far as rescuing goes, it is all about management- crates are your best friend.