This page is a component of the Glossary of the Dog Science, CBC
Dog Training Workshop, and an element of the Dog Science Network
Using the Word No as a Command, a Punisher, and a Discriminative Cue
The word no can be used in several different ways.
First, no can be used as a command to tell your dog one of the following:
- Immediately stop what you are doing. Or,
- do not do what you are thinking about doing.
In addition, through classical conditioning, the word no can be transformed into a conditioned punisher, after it has been long paired with your unsettling voice. In other words, if over time, you repeatedly speak the word no to your dog in a tone of voice that he can't stand, he will eventually come to hate hearing the word almost as much as he hates hearing you speak to him in that tone of voice. Once that is accomplished you can cause him to regret improper behavior simply by speaking the word no to him.
No is also a vital component in a do this - not that, procedure in which you speak the word in an unsettling voice as you shoo your dog out of the garden or some other forbidden location, only to switch over to gladdening words of encouragement the instant the desired change is achieved.
The word no can also be used as a discriminative cue. For example, when your dog hears you speak the word no in your command voice, he will know that depending on what he does next, either something plesant is going to happen as you reward him for his compliance, or something upsetting is going to happen. It is not a word that a well trained dog takes lightly.
When punishing your dog, no should be the only word you ever say. If you feel compelled to speak to your dog as you punish him, beyond just saying no one time, you should simply repeat the word over and over.