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  • Dorset Muscahounds

Does your dog understand ‘no’

Have you ever actually thought about what the word ‘no’ actually means to our dogs??

In reality it is quite likely it doesn’t mean a great deal and that your dog does not know what the word means. They don’t realise that ‘no’ means they shouldn’t be chewing your best shoes or biting / ragging the lead when you are out on a walk.

But you are positive that your dog does understand the word. As your dog looks guilty when you say ‘no’.

It’s more likely that your dog is giving off appeasement signals to help calm you down. They are doing this because they can tell you are not happy. Not because they know they are doing wrong and feel guilty. They pick up that you are not happy because of the tone of your voice and your body language, not necessarily because of the word ‘No’. This is because much of our communication even with our dogs is not just based on the actual words we use.

So in an ideal world the word ‘no’ should be used infrequently. As at best it’s more likely to act as an interrupter to our dog’s behaviour. We say ‘No’ and the dog stops and looks at us, the behaviour has temporarily ceased. If we don’t take any other action at this point your dog is likely to just go back to whatever they were doing before. So instead of saying ‘no’ let’s give our dog an alternative we prefer.

So with inappropriate chewing, try giving your dog something else to chew for example a coffee wood root, Nyla bone, Himalayan yak chew etc. As a young dog maybe chewing because they have a sore mouth and an older dog may be chewing as a way of relieving stressed. Offering an appropriate alternative allows our dog an outlet. Rather than just saying ‘no’ which doesn’t help our dogs and it certainly doesn’t stop your dog having sore teeth or feeling stressed.

With regards to your dog chewing or ragging the lead, your dog may have gotten over excited. So instead of saying ‘no’ help them calm down with a game of sprinkles – sprinkling food in the grass for them to find. This brings their excitement levels and helps to stop the unwanted behaviour.

As always if you are struggling with your dog and their behaviour seek professional help.

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