Expert Puppy Training

How to communicate effectively with your dog

Blog 3 Sue and Kali bonding through play and handling.

Conditioning Your Dog

The secret to successful training is to develop communication whereby you dog understands what is right and what is wrong. This can be done very simply by teaching yes and no. Many people say these words to their dogs but have never taught the dog what they mean so in reality the dog does not understand. By teaching the dog to understand two simple words training becomes much easier and less confusing for the dog. Other extremely important advantages are that this simple system stops people falling into the trap of bribing their dog and that the dog actually uses his brain to work out what to do in order to receive the reward.

For this system to work the dog needs to be conditioned so he understands what the words mean and that his action controls their use.

It is up to you what words you use I like to use the words ‘Good’ and ‘No’

Teaching the ‘Good’

AIM- for the dog to understand that what he was doing at the exact time you said yes/Good is

what he is receiving the reward for.

Step 1

  • With your dog on a lead and a few treats say yes/Good and immediately give the dog the treat, repeat this 8-10 times.
  • Repeat this procedure at different times and in different locations
  • What you are looking to achieve is that the dog expects to be given a treat when you have said the word yes/Good.
  • He will now understand that yes/Good = a reward

Step 2

  • Repeat stage 1 but don’t say yes/Good until your dog makes eye contact with you
  • This will teach him that to make you say yes/Good he must do something.
  • When your dog does this reliably you have taught him to understand the meaning of the word.

Teaching the No.

Step 1

  • Place a treat in the palm of your hand when the dog attempts to take the treat say No in a firm manner (do not shout) and immediately clench your hand covering the treat so the dog can not take it.
  • Repeat several times
  • Once the dog moves away from the hand and doesn’t attempt to get the treat you can say Yes’ Good and give him the treat.
  • The aim is for the dog to understand that if you say No the reward is withdrawn.
  • Once the dog immediately responds to the No by stopping what he is doing specifically, trying to take the treat you can progress to stage 2

Step 2

  • With the dog on a lead throw a treat on the floor and if the dog attempts to take the treat say No and prevent him from taking it using the lead.
  • Repeat until such time he makes no attempt to get the treat, when this happens immediately say Yes/Good and give him a treat.
  • To further help create the understanding introduce other distractions i.e. throw toys, remember to say No when he does the wrong thing but immediately say Yes/Good when he does the right thing and give him a reward.
  • This will teach him that No is unrewarding and that he must stop doing what he is doing and upon doing so will get a Yes/Good and a reward.


  1. When you say Yes/Good you must be follow it with a reward
  2. Never reward without saying Yes/Good
  3. Only say the word Yes/Good or No once do not keep, repeating it.
  4. Never punish wrong behaviour
  5. Keep sessions short and fun

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Sue Williams

Sue has vast experience gained from working with both dogs and other animals over the last 20 years.

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