About Saying "No" To Your Pets When Training Them

Mark Gordon BrownStarred Page By Mark Gordon Brown, 19th Mar 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Tips & Advice

Cat and dog owners sometimes confuse their pets when they say the word "no". Pets do not have a clear understanding of the word "no" and most owners do not take the time to teach their pets what it means.

What Does "No" Mean?

Pet owners may take their time to train a dog to know what "sit" means, or they teach it to "come", to "stay" and so forth. At the very least they teach their dog its name. Cats might be trained for a few things, however few owners even bother to train their cat to know its name.

Yet, most pet owners assume that their pet will know what "No" means.

The puppy messes on the floor and is told "no", it jumps up on the sofa and is told "no", the cat wants outside and is told "no", the dog tries to take your sandwich and is told "no". What does "no" mean? It seems to mean something different every time.

Training Your Pet Correctly

When we talk about training a pet, such as in this article by Jerry Walch, we see that it is important to focus on positive things. To be clear and consistent.

If you are upset about the puppy messing inside, say "outside" or something, and to get it off the sofa say "off". The dog who is trying to steal your sandwich should be told "leave it" and the cat who is trying to get outside... well, it is a cat, so... it probably won't really care what you say!

The point is that rather than telling a pet what you do not want it to do, try telling it what you do want it to do.

Think of people, they respond better to positive instruction, to being told what they should be doing. They want to be told how to do something right rather than being told that how they are doing something is wrong.

Can Pets Understand The Word "No"?

In all fairness pets can learn what the word "no" means to a certain extent, but it can be confusing when the same word means different things in different contexts. Most dogs may learn that "no" means "Not that... hang on a second". Cats will typically either ignore you when you say "no" or if you say it in a harsh tone will react the same as if you said anything in an harsh tone, the tone of your voice startles them and they stop doing whatever it was they were going to do anyhow.

Just take a minute and think about how you converse with your pets, is it in a negative way or are you directly them positively?

Other reading: Guide on Cat Care

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Cat, Cats, Dog, Dogs, How To Train A Cat, How To Train A Cat To Say Off The Counter, How To Train A Dog, How To Train A Dog To Get Off The Sofa, Pet, Pets, What Is Postive Reinforcement

Meet the author

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
Raised in Michigan, I have a son who recently joined the Military. I am living in Canada with my wife where we have a hobby farm.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
20th Mar 2015 (#)

You make some very good points in this article, Mark. I prefer training my animals, both cats and dogs, using positive reinforcement, by rewarding them when they do what I want them to do, instead of punishing them when they do something wrong.
Thanks for the mention in your astute article.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
20th Mar 2015 (#)

Mark, excellent article. Congratulations on the star. Thanks for sharing such great tips. I've always said no and didn't think about the points you brought up.

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author avatar Carol Roach
20th Mar 2015 (#)

my cats know their names and they are taught no and they no what it means

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
21st Mar 2015 (#)

Mark, I came back to share this on Twitter and goggle + and facebook because I think it's an excellent article.

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author avatar spirited
1st Apr 2015 (#)

Animals perhaps understand the tone of the voice as well.

I agree positive re-enforcement works better with everyone.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
5th Apr 2015 (#)

Thought provoking post Mark, thanks - siva

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author avatar Retired
8th Apr 2015 (#)

lol... I was an epic failure.

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author avatar Retired
22nd Apr 2015 (#)

Humans lol very good write. Keeps us thinking. I pet and use squirt bottle when needed :o)

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author avatar Nancy Austin
23rd Apr 2015 (#)

For this comment, I'm quoting you, Mark Gordon Brown. "It's a cat, so it probably doesn't really care what you say."

On behalf of cat owners everywhere- so true.

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author avatar Retired
25th Apr 2015 (#)

Well done on the star. As a dog owner myself, I think he knows when I give him commands. And he learnt well when I was teaching him as a pup.

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author avatar Nancy Austin
25th Apr 2015 (#)

Oh that cat in the picture has my heart!

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