How to teach your Dog to say Yes or No


In Canine Assistants no longer train our dog to robotically react to cues such as sit, remain, and heel. Instead, our methodology has evolved to reflect the most recent research on puppies’ remarkable ability to make surprisingly complex decisions.

The woman clucked and said, “This puppy is badly trained.” Without missing a beat, Eddie replied, “Bless you, ma’am, for discovering. Bee isn’t trained at all…however she’s brightly educated.” Eddie sometimes has difficulty with specific speech patterns and words, and he keeps several pictures taped to the side of his wheelchair to help him to communicate his needs to Bee. While pointing to a photo of a cup, Eddie asked Bee, “Would you ?” Bee immediately pulled a cup from the pack on the back of Eddie’s wheelchair and handed it to him. Next, he asked Bee, “What goes in a cup” Bee responded by pulling a bottle of water from the other side pocketed laying it in Eddie’s lap. He then asked Bee if she was ready to go, holding out his left hand as he said Yes and his right hand as he said No. When Bee firmly pressed her nose into Eddie’s left hand indicating Yes, Eddie wished the astonished woman a pleasant day and rolled away.

This interaction may seem incredible,

but it wasn’t tricky for Bee to learn to answer yes and no questions and to do things to help her dad. Bee, like most dogs, was an excellent student, once we became good teachers. To allow Bee to use her brain, we had to do two things: first, we had to assure her that Eddie’s affection was ununconditionalnd second, we had to help her understand how to make good choices without direct cues from us. A request takes considerably more thought than a cued demand. When Bee matched the photo of the cup to the actual object, remembered where the container was located, surmised that Eddie wanted it, and then retrieved it, she was demonstrating complex thought. The same goes for her ability to answer Yes when Eddie asked if she was ready to go. Bee’s actions also required her to have enough trust in herself and her bond with Eddie to risk being wrong.

Bee is indeed a particular dog,

but her abilities are not unique. All dogs can learn and what they can learn might surprise us. We’ve been so busy telling our dogs what to do that we have neglected to ask them what they are capable of. When we start from a place of unconditional trust with our dogs, it turns out that they can and will do far more than we’d ever imagined possible.

Like Bee and Eddie,

you too can teach your dog yes and no. This will make life with your dog easier since you will no longer have to guess at her wants and needs. Additionally, being able to make her wishes known gives your dog a voice, which is critical to her mental health.

To teach your dog Yes and No:

Start by rubbing a bit of yummy treat on your left palm, carefully avoiding getting food on your right palm. Then place the food where your dog can’t reach it. Ask your dog if he wants a treat (pointing at the menu) and ask, “Yes?” while extending your left palm and “No?” while extending your right palm. When he sniffs the food on your left palm, say”Yes — fine” and hand him the meals. As he starts to realise that touching your left hands signifies he will find the meals, you should begin adding different things or chances (for instance, going outside) into the mixture. (Note: You will find it simplest to enable the lack of a Yes answer to function as No which works both in addition to the two-handed strategy.)

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