Why Say “NO”
When You Can Say “YES”!

Start teaching your dog what to do rather than what not to do.

Training dogs has come a long way. We no longer need to yell “No” or “Bad Dog”. Instead dogs need to be taught what we want them to do, rather than what not to do.


Think of when you started a new job. If you were lucky enough to have someone show you around and teach you, then the chances were it made your first day on the job a lot easier and manageable. For those of us who were not so lucky to have someone show us around and teach us what to do and how to do it, then it definitely made it more difficult and even stressful. Especially when you are doing things wrong.

Dog looking at the camera with a human shadow
My dog Gerbers first day out of the shelter

If the job example didn’t resonate with you then think about when you were a kid and you were confused with a particular class or subject. Or better yet, if you have kids then think about them and how at times they might struggle to learn a particular concepts or subjects. (My subject was math, reading and writing…but you probably guessed writing based on this blog!)


Remember the feeling you had when you just couldn’t grasp something in school? Or the look on your kids face when they can’t understand a concept?


You might be wonder “Ok Anthony, so what is your point?!!” My point is that feeling confused and unsure sucks!!! It is stressful and can cause anxiety and/or frustration to continuously build.



Well, the same is true for our dogs! Dogs are not preprogrammed little robots that know what we expect of them, how we expect it and when we expect it. They need to be taught in order to understand rules and boundaries within our own homes and even in public.


My point is that screaming “NO” all day long is not enough. It is one word that is being used is so many different contexts throughout a dogs day and throughout its life. And to be honest it gets annoying! (Those of you with Italian mothers can relate! ☺ ) Besides, dogs do not speak our language. They reality is that we can use any word to mean “No” or “Bad dog”. For example, we can teach the words “jump”, “sandwich”, “coffee” etc. to mean “No”. It is through training and the teaching process that a dog can learn what “No” means. 

So What Do I Do?

Well, that is a great question! Say “YES”!!!! Start teaching your dog what you want him to do. For example, don’t just say “Sit” and expect your dog to stay seated if you haven’t taught him to sit and stay while guests walk into your house. Say “Sit” and then say “Yes” followed by a reinforcer such as a treat. Reinforcing your dog will start teaching him what you want. After doing this a few times you might be surprised to find your dog sitting next to you on his own. (TIP: You should reward your dog for choosing to sit on his own!)


The word “YES” is used as the indicator, to indicate to your dog that he did something correct and will be receiving payment.

My dog Gerber giving me the puppy look when I say “no”…just kidding!
Why Do I Need To Use Treats?

Another great question! We want to use something that motivates our dogs. Typically, this is food, but can also be toys, play or whatever your dog finds reinforcing and valuable. Treats, especially really good ones that your dog finds really valuable are a great motivators to help teach our dogs.


When you don’t have food on you DO NOT say “Yes”. Instead start praising your dog with “good boy, good dog, nice job” etc. as a way to tell your dog that he did something good.


As your dog does better with the behaviors he has been taught and it has become a piece of cake, this is when you can choose to not use food. You can start making the teaching process a bit harder. If your dog is getting a bit confused or unsure and then he does the correct behavior then you would start reinforcing that. As behaviors become a piece of cake you can stop using food, until or unless it becomes difficult again.

The Benefits
• Your dog can start to become motivated to listen and work • You will start using clear and consistent communication to teach rules and boundaries • You are becoming a teacher and guide in your dogs life, which means he will be able to listen and respond more reliably to you! • Your dog is now starting to mentally use his mind to think and learn You and your dog are creating a stronger relationship together

We all adopt or purchase dogs because we like and enjoy them. We don’t want them to be a burden in our lives and we certainly don’t get them to yell “No” at them all day. So if we love our dogs and enjoy them, then lets teach them.


So, my advice is simple, ditch the “NO” and say “YES”!


 To learn more about me, visit my website. www.demarinisdogtraining.com 

Anthony De Marinis is a graduate of distinction from the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior. He is also a Certified Victoria Stilwell Licensed Positively Dog Trainer and a Fear Free Certified Animal Trainer. Anthony runs his dog training practice, The Gold Coast Dog full time and provides private training and behavior modification solutions using positive reinforcement methods. His website is: www.demarinisdogtraining.com