When giving your dog a spoken command, remember that you are teaching “ESL for dogs.” English is his second language, and a good deal of the time, how you say something is far more important than what you say.
The No Reward Marker
How do you tell your dog, “Nope, that’s not what I wanted. Try something else”? Many owners and trainers use a No Reward Marker. This is the word (or sound) that you use when your dog has done a behavior that you did not want. The most commonly used No Reward Marker is “ah ah!” Your tone does not have to be angry, just firm enough to let your dog know that was the wrong behavior. The most important part of using a No Reward Marker is the accompanying Conditioned Reinforcer–that is, a word/sound that tells the dog, “Yes! That was what I wanted!” “Good” or “Yes!” works, as does a clicker. Everything about training revolves around focusing on what you do want and rewarding your dog for the behavior that you requested.