Non-Acknowlegement Signals

A non-acknowledgement signal (or NACK) is a way of letting your dog know that they didn't do what you are asking for. It is also called a no reward marker. It should absolutely not be used as punishment, rather as clarification.

With Pico, I would tell her "Not what I asked for" if, for instance, I asked her to wait (stay behind a boundary like a door frame) and instead she would heal. I did the same thing with Hero. With Max, I have started to use "oops" when either he or I make a mistake. I have actually found this to be more effective than just marking his behaviour. For instance, if we are walking and he is in the informal heel position we use most of the time and I step in front of him, I say oops because I messed up. If he gets me tangled up in his leash, I say oops because he messed up. He learned the marker much faster and it seems to make him think about what went wrong. We use "oops" when I use a command inappropriately or when he doesn't follow my command. I started doing this without thinking about it, but it has worked much better with Max than I have ever seen a no reward marker work with other dogs.

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