Confusing Words for the Dog

Noelle is a wonderful name. And, with all due apologies to any reader with this name, please don’t name your dog ‘Noelle’. It will cause your pup or dog just so much confusion and it can be just pure chaos. Most pups learn early that the word “no” means that you are unhappy about something. “No” is a word most people use to stop a pup from doing something that it is not allowed to do. Imagine the confusion if the pup has the same association with its name.

Dogs make associations with sounds. Sounds, such as a whistle or a clicker, can be used to give instruction and to give positive reinforcement. Most pups learn that the “no” sound means that you are not happy. The pup learns the sound – not the linguistic subtleties of language. When the “no” is said, the pup displays anxiety in its body language. Look carefully the next time you use the word “no” – what is the set of the tail? what is the set of the ears? how is pup carrying its head? is the back arched? This is the association with the word “no” because pup does not want to displease you. And so it is with the adult dog too. If the dog is named “Noelle”, this anxiety reaction may happen every time you call the dog. Perhaps, with enough exposure, the dog will begin to feel comfortable with this name. When the dog reaches this comfort level, without a doubt, you have lost a valuable tool – the impact of the word “no”.

Perhaps you are reading this and thinking to yourself that you would never make such a goof as naming your pup “Noelle”. Of course not – but would you encourage your dog by saying “I know you can do it!”?

Catherine Forsythe
Director of Operations

[tag]dogs, names, sounds, confusion[/tag]