Praise Your Dog for Doing Something Right

"If I say, ‘Yes! You’re a brilliant dog! You’ve got that right! What a good girl!’ I then know my dog understands exactly she did right," says Krista Cantrell, who wrote a book on the subject, Catch Your Dog Doing Something Right (Plume Books). "If I say, ‘No! No! No! That’s a bad doggy!’ that dog knows I’m displeased, but can’t possibly understand what it is what I do want her to do."

Some dogs, especially puppies, must think their names are "No! No! No!" because that’s all they hear. Think back to when you were a frisky fourth grader. Or think about your boss at the office. When all you hear is "No! No! No!" it’s discouraging and difficult to be motivated. But when you’re praised, you know what is expected and it feels pretty good. It’s exactly the same for our dogs.

"I believe hearing a positive response gives dogs confidence," says Cantrell. "And I know for sure, because I’ve witnessed this time and time again, that dogs who are consistently praised begin to think about other ways to please you. They think, ‘Ah-ha, she liked that, so maybe she’ll like it if I do it this way or that way’ OK, the dog may not think it out and rationalize this, but certainly that’s what happens when you are telling your dog what she’s doing right, rather than focusing on whatever she’s doing wrong."

Besides, saying "no" all the time is discouraging for you too, and eventually creates anger. Who wants to be angry at their dog all the time? Cantrell concludes, "The best relationships in life are based on positives, not negatives."