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No is Not a Cue

I hear many puppy owners using the word no for puppy training, I have other methods to use instead, and I will teach you those in this article.

When people use the word no, it does nothing to help the puppy learn what you want it to do. No is just to stop the puppy momentarily from doing something, and usually, it doesn't work at first no. Most puppy owners have to use the word no often in repetition, such as “no, no, no.” They do it that way because the puppy isn't listening, and then they complain because the puppy doesn't listen.

I've said this repeatedly in numerous puppy talk episodes…focus on what you want the puppy to do, and don't try to stop the puppy from doing something. There is one exception to this. It's called Correct it and Redirect it. However, we still don't use the word no.

no is not a cue in puppy training

When my mother was here visiting recently, she was walking Dixie through Home Depot. She used the word no when Dixie started going into the garden center after the plants. She said no to Dixie several times, and I told her, “Don't use the word no; I don't use the word any in my training. Just tell her what you want her to do." Then she said, “Dixie, come over here.” Dixie came to her and stopped biting on the plants. That's how to did it. You don't need to use the word no when walking puppies. That's something that many people unconsciously do is to use the word no.

This is also the Puppy Talk Podcast episode, listen here

The image attached to this article below has a circle that says No is not a cue. Then it has eight circles that reach out from this center circle of alternative cues to use instead of no. These include:

  • Go to place

  • Down

  • Lay down

  • Stay

  • Sit

  • Stand

  • Off

  • This way

Yesterday I was training a puppy, which is a 13-week-old German short-haired pointer and German shepherd mix puppy. We were at an outdoor mall, an outdoor strip mall with many restaurants and shops, and so forth. There was a lady with her poodle, and she kept telling the dog, “No ma'am, no ma’am,” and yelling at the dog. And I informed my clients to not ever do what that lady's doing.

No ma’am is not absolutely not applicable to dog training. It teaches the dog nothing. No ma’am is also not a cue.

What do we do instead? We use what's called correct it and redirect it. I like to use the sound, “uh, uh” to interrupt the puppy's behavior and stop them from doing something, and then I will direct them to what I want them to do instead.

It would be like this, “Uh, uh…sit…down…YES…Good boy (or good girl)….stay…YES…good boy (or good girl.” This method teaches them what you want them to do and interrupted their thought pattern from what you didn't want them to do instead of just saying no. Also, this way it ends on a positive note, making the puppy always succeed and never fail. This will make the puppy happier and less stressed.

How frustrated do you think they are when they hear you saying no? Listen to the way that no sounds when you say it. No can't be said nicely No is usually said with a harsh tone that frustrates the puppy. They sense your frustration as well.


  • Remember to “Correct it and redirect it.” to teach them the behavior that's going to make them succeed, not fail. Always end everything that you do with a puppy on a positive note, with what you want them to do, and rewarding them for that behavior.

  • Use words like Good boy, or good girl. That's a very good puppy. Good baby. Yes, good girl. Always recognize when your puppy is doing something good and making good decisions.

  • Don't use the no command because “no is not a cue.” Use the commands that are teaching the puppy to do what you want them to do and have them succeed and continually reward that behavior.

This is also the Puppy Talk Podcast episode, listen here


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