The fear of saying “No’….. It’s real, it’s normal, and it’s ok🐾

The fear of saying “No’….. It’s real, it’s normal, and it’s ok🐾

There is a time to say ‘Yes’ and a time to say ‘No’. That being said, we must always be aware that anytime we say ‘No’ to and unwanted behaviour, we must give and reward our dogs for the correct alternative ... for example: for jumping on a child, we say ‘No’ and give a consequence like a leash pop. Then we say “Sit’ and praise/reward the dog when he sits. The dog must understand what not do and then we must show him what he can do instead of the unwanted behaviour. For many dogs, the act of bad behaviour is so self-rewarding that it is far more powerful than any treat or toy... I see it all the time. Dogs who won't take food or treats but instead LOVE a behaviour like jumping because it is very self-rewarding. Ahem… August! Lol!!! For anyone who has followed Auggie’s story, jumping used to be one of his favorite and most self-rewarding behaviours but it was extremely painful and uncomfortable for the person being jumped on leaving them with scratches and bruises. It was extremely important to teach August a better alternative to jumping not only because it’s rude and painful for the jumpee but because he’s a big Pit Bull who was in a shelter situation and most folks won’t adopt a dog who hurts them. And dogs like this, in the shelter system ultimately get euthanized if they are deemed unadoptable. I know that’s a bit heavy, but it is reality.

A lot of people I meet, are afraid to tell their dogs ‘No’. They feel that by saying ‘No’ to unwanted behaviours like jumping, biting, lunging, snarling, etc. means that they are being mean to their dog. We all love our dogs and we all want the best for them... but what if the best thing for your dog is saying ‘No’? Some dogs do enjoy jumping, biting, lunging, snarling, etc. and some dogs do it because it has been self-rewarding for them. They get their way or something they want. In either case, the dog is feeling a rush of excitement, anxiety and stress. This is not a good state of mind for the dog to be practicing. From a dogs perspective, when they reach a state of reactivity they are in fight or flight mode. We humans may look at the situation and think it's no big deal, why is this dog over reacting? But the dog is in a state of mind where he thinks he has to fight or run for his life... that's what really happens without human intervention. Dogs have no concept of 'it's wrong to hurt or kill another dog'. That's a human thing... dogs are instinctual. They instinctively neutralize threats or run away from them unless we teach them otherwise. So from your dog’s point of view, his over reaction is justified. That is why it's not only ok to tell your dog ‘No’ and then give him a better alternative, but as his leader you are obligated to tell your dog ‘No, don't do that. Do this'. In a family of dogs, there would be consequences for bad behaviour... the older or savvier dogs say ‘No’ to the unruly youngsters with a firm bite or a pin to the ground. I'm not saying we should use these tactics, but I am saying that it is normal for dogs to be told ‘No’... their mothers did it from day 1, so it is ok for you to also tell your dog ‘No’ appropriately if he is practicing dangerous, harmful or disrespectful behaviour and then show him and reward him for the acceptable alternative. You are not mean for wanting to say ‘No’... you are normal! And your dog will actually be more comfortable and calm knowing that you have lifted the burden of decision maker, protector, and leader off his shoulders and you will feel a lot less frustrated which is better for everyone.💝

Kristen Cameron