I am on a professional list that recently had a discussion on the use of the word "no". One person had posted about playing a trick on a group of people she was giving a presentation to. I so love this, that I am going to share this with you, and while I don't know her, I am going to give Kathi O'Malley credit for this. "The first thing I asked the group was "how many of you would like to teach you dog what "no" means?" Every hand in a fairly large group went straight up! I said firmly "Don't put your hands up". They all took their hands down and one Gil put her pen up, I said "Don't put that pen up". They then put their hands on their chairs or laps and I said "Don't put your hands on your chairs or your laps". Well, they didn't know me and I could see some would like to walk out on me at that point, so I put my hands fanned out from my forehead and said "How many of you knew I would not answer any question unless you gave me this signal?" Well, they got that, how can anyone who hasn't learned what to do know what not to do!!! All "no" or "don't" are are interrupters. All my "Don't do that's" simply left my audience frustrated and ready to quit on me! You can interrupt, or give a "no reward marker" as mentioned, but teach the pupil what you do want!
I think this is so well said and presented! No is NOT really information about what you want at all! Almost all of the problems I see with dogs and humans is a lack of communication in a language that they can both understand. THAT is a topic for another blog, but communication is really important in the human-animal bond.
If you are constantly told NO! and that is never followed up with what is truly wanted of you, learned helplessness can occur. My challenge to all of my students is always if the word you have for "NO" comes out of your mouth you are to always follow it up with what exactly you do want! Give them the entire bit of information!
This is my friend Linda and her dog Pip. Pip has an interesting story, but in his previous life he had been told NO a lot, sometimes using shock collars. Linda has worked VERY hard with him to keep him on the positive and to communicate in a proactive way. I give her credit! She stuck with it when so many others wouldn't have. And Pip is thriving because of her.
I have been very lucky to have known and studied many different animals doing many different types of behavior. No matter what the species is...no is still not information beyond don't do that...it doesn't tell them what you do want!
I think the important thing is to catch you dog doing what is right. And tell them! In their language. Show them that you are happy. Dogs want to please us, and they will start offering what you like more and more if you are clear to them. And while you are at it....tell you co-worker or you boss, or your employee what you like as well.....IMAGINE what a wonderful world it would be!