The Word "NO"

The word “no.”

By Jeff Gellman of Solid K9 Training.
Jeff specializes in dog training in RI, as well as anywhere else in the US.

“Yes”, and “no”: two simple, yet incredibly powerful words. These are the two words needed to achieve balanced training. What is balanced dog training? It is when the dog is in
a steady mental state with calm behavior and good judgment. In order to achieve a well- behaved, balanced dog, we praise the dog for good choices and we discipline the dog for bad choices. We say “yes” enthusiastically, and we firmly say “no.” Yes, I am here to tell you that you can say “no” to your dog. Saying “no” is actually necessary.

What would happen if people were never told no? If discipline didn’t exist for us as human beings and we were never told “no,” then we’d never move forward, never become better people, and have no manners, character, stability, inner strength or control. Discipline is a wonderful thing to have, because it is the very thing that keeps us working toward our goals, dreams and self -growth. If we never said “no” to our children, would we be doing them any real favors? We as parents have to say “no” to keep them safe, polite, and healthy so they can grow into responsible, respectful adults.

Just as people need the word “no”, dogs need it to thrive and grow as well, and it would actually be unfair to withhold it. In dog training, this has almost turned into a subject that many folks are afraid to discuss, and many dogs are then misunderstood and killed as a result. Discipline is not punishment or abuse, but actually humane, natural, and has the dog’s best interest at heart. From oceans to forests, discipline holds a crucial presence in nature, as all creatures great and small must instinctively learn and recognize boundaries and limits without question, and dogs are certainly no exception. Dogs will never learn to respect us as their leaders if discipline is non-existent in our training. Saying “no” to an undesirable behavior sets up the rules dogs crave to realize in order to make the correct choices, because dogs ultimately need to exist in a balanced state where everything is clearly understood and structured. Discipline helps us to succeed with dogs, just as it does in every aspect of our own lives.

I know from years of experience that balanced training rehabilitates dogs of all different breeds and backgrounds so it is naturally quite discomforting to me that many trainers don’t believe in saying “no” to a dog. In a hypothetical case that a little girl is swimming in the family pool and their ninety-pound Rottweiler jumps into the water and swims toward the child in a powerful, aggressive manner, how would a trainer that doesn’t believe in saying “no” handle the situation? Training dogs to sit for cookies in a room

is not going to prevent potential danger from happening in the real world, where many things are not in our control as they would be in a quiet room with no distractions.

Before hiring a dog trainer, make sure you ask the correct questions. I find that the two questions that seem to be the most common are:

“How much time does your training take?”


“How much does your training cost?”

Everyone wants the quickest results at cheapest cost, but should those things really be their first concern when training their dog, who is will be a very strong presence and close companion in their life for the next ten to fifteen years?

Questions you should be asking:

  1. 1)  Do you come to the house?

    The personalized and undivided attention you and your dog will receive is well worth it, as well as working with you in real life and overcoming the challenges you deal with at home in your actual environment.

  2. 2)  Have you worked with dogs that bite, and/or show aggression? If yes, than how many, and how successful were you at eliminating the biting and aggression? Biting dogs need to be corrected and taught instead of avoided, discarded and killed. It’s plain and simple.

  3. 3)  What tools do you use as a trainer?

    Trainers should always be very upfront about what they use. I for instance, will tell a potential client that I use regular collars, slip leads, prong collars, remote collars, affection, my voice, a light touch, and my energy as tools. Remember that if someone only uses food and praise to train a dog, think hard about whether or not food and praise is going to work if the dog is lunging at a child or chasing a rabbit full speed toward a busy street.

  4. 4)  Do you specialize in agility or rally training?

    If trainers specialize in agility or rally training, they will not be training your dog for the real world. These sports require a dog to remain in a highly adrenalized, energized state while they are working. In the real world we want a calm dog that when focused on our leadership, can remain calm in a chaotic world. Going to an agility trainer when you need balanced training is the same as going to a foot doctor to take a look at your heart condition. Make sure you know exactly the type of training you would like for your dog because there are many different levels.

  5. 5)  Do you do balanced training?
    Of course, balanced training is a balance of praise and discipline. Do not be afraid to say “no” to a trainer that will not say “no” to a dog, or more often than not, you will be wasting your time and money. It is better to know you are getting the results you need.

Investing in a dog trainer that is there to help serve the relationship you have with your dog for the rest of its lifetime is an incredibly important decision because the results should be life altering, for not only your dog, but also you, as the leader. The relationship you build with your dog should be respectful, ever evolving, harmonious, peaceful and solid, which requires clear communication, awareness, patience, time and dedication.

It should never be about credentials, the amount of time it takes or the rate. It’s about how well your trainer can integrate your dog smoothly into your life, using a balanced approach. How much would that be worth to you? If your trainer is not able to give you the right answer to at least five of the above questions, then it may be time to look elsewhere.

If you have any questions, and want to speak to professional dog trainers in Rhode Island, please contact Jeff Gellman at 401.527.6354. 

Jeff Gellman 

Solid K9 Training






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Solid K9 Training Providence, RI (401) 527-6354