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Dog’s Do Not Know NO, Until You Teach Them

As owners, it can be instinctive, almost reflex to tell a puppy or dog “NO” when they are displaying undesirable behaviour.

A common mistake owners can make, is to assume that your dog understands what this word means. Dogs do not speak English, obviously. Too often we encounter owners reprimanding their dog with a “no”, to no avail. For your dog to be receptive to this, you must first teach your dog what this means.

Dogs must be taught every single word that we are going to use with them. Often, we speak to our dogs expecting they know what we are saying but usually they are just very good at reading our body language.


To ensure our dog’s know what behaviour we want or don’t want, we start to use different markers. This includes the word “No”.


What is a Marker Word?


At Found by the Hound, we teach verbal markers. This can be done through a range of exercises, involving plenty of repetition so that over time, with association your dog begins to understand those markers.


A verbal maker is a word that you choose to mark or highlight the behaviour (good or not). If a marker is well taught and understood by your dog, it will create a bridge between the behaviour itself and the time it takes you to give your dog the reward.


The words we typically use are Ready, Yes, Good, No and Finished.


READY: This is the cue we use the let the dog know we are about to start a fun and exciting training session. This helps our dogs know when to be focused


YES: This is the word we say to mark the appropriate behaviour and let our dog know that the reward is coming. The timing of saying the word “YES” is important. Imagine that you are taking a photo of the right behaviour, that would be the moment that the word would be said.


GOOD: Good is the extender,” I like what you are doing keep doing it”. This will be followed with a “YES” to release and reward.


NO: “No” is the marker we use to let the dog know that they need to opt for another behaviour i.e. “that is not the particular behaviour that I am after, try something different”. It is not a negative “no”

FINISHED: We use this marker to let dogs know that our training session is finished. This will help dogs understand that there is a start and end to our sessions so they can focus better during a session knowing they will be told when it is okay to switch out and relax.

As dogs do not speak English, these Verbal Markers must be correctly taught in order to be effective. At Found By The Hound, we have plenty of games that help dogs understand Verbal Markers. To learn more, contact our team and schedule a Training session with our Trainers.


With repetition, your dogs will understand what you are trying to communicate with them when using these words. The word “no” will then be able to be applied to real life/everyday situations and give your dog the opportunity to opt for another behaviour.

Would you like to learn more about effective ways to communicate with your pets? Speak to the expert team at Found by the Hound.