The Puppy Training Podcast

Episode #60 The Yes & No Training Loops

September 18, 2020 Baxter & Bella Puppy Training Season 2 Episode 60
The Puppy Training Podcast
Episode #60 The Yes & No Training Loops
Show Notes Transcript

I’m so excited about today’s topic. It’s what I refer to as the Yes & No Loops of puppy training. How many of you feel stuck in a NO loop? Do you feel like you are following your puppy around all day saying no, off, drop it, leave it, no some more, etc….Are you wondering how to get off of the No loop? Today is the day my friends. This one is a game changer.

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The Training Loops

Hi friends! 

I’m so excited about today’s topic. It’s what I refer to as the Yes & No Loops of puppy training. How many of you feel stuck in a NO loop? Do you feel like you are following your puppy around all day saying no, off, drop it, leave it, no some more, etc….Are you wondering how to get off of the No loop? Today is the day my friends. This one is a game changer.

But first, thank you for listening! I set a goal when I started BAXTER & Bella to help puppy families everywhere be better educated on the process of training a well-behaved dog and I’m happy to say we are reaching people all around the world! It’s because of you sharing the word and letting others know about us so thank you. We work hard every day to keep learning, growing and updating so we can share that knowledge with you.

If you are getting a puppy soon or maybe yours is already with you, we offer LIVE! Online Puppy classes. A new round is starting Tuesday September 29th and I’d love to see you there. If you’d like to sign up, please visit our site,, click on Online Store and register today

Okay, are you ready to discuss the loops? As I coach people weekly on puppy training, this concept of the yes and no loop developed as a simple way to explain to people why they were stuck in certain situations. Today I want to share it with you in hopes it will help you too! 

I want to start by telling you about my morning - this will emphasize why I believe it is so important to stay in the YES loop as much as possible and hopefully paint a picture for you of how our methods of training help dogs live their best lives.

Every morning we have a wake up routine. Boots & Yeti get up first. They come with me to drive my middle schooler to the bus stop - because we live out of school boundaries but the school is a good 20 miles away - the bus is super helpful. They love the car ride. When we get home, we wake up Bruno and make our way downstairs and outside for potty breaks. We have a roll call we go through as a way of achieving a very nice calm exit from the home to outside. I’m super proud of the dogs and how they’ve picked up on it quickly. Even Yeti waits for his name to be called - by the way - when you get ready to name your puppy, choose something that doesn’t rhyme or sound like training cues - yes we failed a bit with Yeti but if you’ve met him - he really looks like a Yeti- sometimes he gets a little off when I say are you Ready? Don’t say that at roll call or he’ll walk through as if I called his name. Anyhow I called each dog by name and they politely walked past me to their outside area - This morning was no different really, each dog waited their turn and walked calmly by, other than - and that’s a big other than - apparently the gate to the great outdoors behind us was open. So yes, I’m facing the house calling each dog to exit and what I didn’t realize is (always check the gate) they were happily running out the gate to go on a joyrun through the neighborhood! 

Honestly (I always try to be) I felt immediate panic. I just let all three of my dogs politely outside free to run as they please - together. Watching them they were having a great time as they disappeared into trees and bushes that didn’t belong to me. Thoughts of trying to find them came flooding in. 

But, I stopped. Took a second to think and realized, this is the moment I’ve practiced for all of my life. Right?! As a trainer I’ve prepared my dogs for this very moment. This actual scenario. So, I walked inside, pulled out a handful of turkey treats, went back outside and in my happiest most fun voice possible, called BOOTS YETI COME!

Bouncy, happy, tongue hanging out dogs came running in my direction and FAST! Both Boots and Yeti ran full speed back to our fenced area where they collected turkey galore. I want to point out they didn’t know what their reward was going to be - but they knew they would get one. That I have taught them well.

Then I kept having fun with them - to really associate coming back in the fenced area as a great thing! We trained and I kept rewarding each behavior with turkey. They got a drink, started to wrestle and I took a sigh of relief. Ok, so this is not the only time something like this has happened. And yes we practice come a lot - but I tell you this story to illustrate how well positive reinforcement works! Dogs are happy to work and respond to you because it is WORTH it to them. Bruno you ask? Yes he came running back too - just not as fast. He’s a bit older but agile enough to hurry back to get in on the fun too. 

I had several choices when I realized the dogs were loose. I was working from the consequence side of the ABC’s of Dog Training because they were already out. I could chase them, scold them, put them in time out for not listening, etc. Or I could motivate them to come back. I’ve worked hard to teach them I’m always worth listening to as good things happen when they do. 

If I chose to go down the NO loop with this one, would they have been as excited to see me? Probably not. If most of my time spent with them on a daily basis is saying NO, OFF, DROP IT, LEAVE IT, etc would they be as excited to see me? Probably not. 

But because we spend so much time reinforcing good behavior with rewards, praise, play, toys and attention, my dogs were happy to respond when I needed them to. And fast.

This doesn’t mean my dogs are perfect or that things always go well around here but having a good relationship with your dog sets you and them up for success and is totally worth it! 

With that, How do we stay more on the YES loop? Let me give you a few specific examples of the NO loope and I think you’ll start to see where I’m headed..

Let’s say your puppy sees you on the sofa and wants to be with you so they run over and ______ that’s right! Jump on you! Or the sofa. We say NO. They get off. Then we go back to what we were doing so the puppy does it again. We say NO. They get off. So we go back to what we were doing. Sound familiar? 

How about this one? Your puppy really wants to play so they run at you, bite your ankles then back away. We say NO (because that hurts!) the puppy barks at us, we say NO. They try biting our ankles again - man this puppy is mean! No, not really. They are just being a puppy and want you to play with them! Sound familiar? 

One more. Your puppy is laying next to the table and starts to gnaw on the table leg. You say, NO. They briefly look up; you did your job and go back to cooking the meal. Your puppy starts chewing the table leg again, you say NO, they stop briefly - you go back to cooking the meal. I know right? Yep, you know this one. 

When these families come to coaching and explain to me these scenarios, they tell me, “My puppy doesn’t understand NO.” So we talk about it.

No doesn’t tell your puppy what to only tells them what they did will not earn them a reward - they are left without something to do other than going back to what they were doing... it is our job to teach them. This is where the YES loop comes in. Show them what they can do instead - get off the no loop and jump onto the YES loop! It’s way more fun! 

Ideally we get on the YES loop from the get go by preventing a behavior from even happening. If I see my puppy running toward me, I can anticipate they may try and jump so instead, I pop out a hand target (puppies are movement magnets) down on their level so they can easily touch my hand with all four paws on the ground. I can then mark YES and reward. Now I have their attention. (NO jump ever happened by the way) and I can ask for more good behavior. Sit, down, stay, turn, settle, come, all sorts of good things - all of which are marked YES and rewarded! My puppy’s motivation and cooperation go up, their frustration stays low. 

When my puppy wants to play and comes at me trying to bite my ankles, same thing. I can redirect them with hand movement BEFORE they get to me and immediately capture their attention from the YES loop by asking for touch or sit (something super simple that my dog does well.) Then engage them in a new activity so their mind doesn’t go back to, ‘HEY Let’s play!” They’re already playing with you - you’ve chosen a training game or other structured activity to occupy your dog’s mind. Or if you don’t have time at the moment - I know we all have lives outside of our dogs - you can take their attention and direct it to a yummy chew in their pen or crate until you are done with work. Make sense? You avoided the no loop and went straight to the yes loop! Way more fun.

How about the kitchen example? You are trying to cook dinner, your puppy wants to chew a table leg - I could jump on the NO loop but instead, I ask my dog to go to bed and start rewarding them intermittently for staying there. Now they have a job to do - I can mark yes and reward them for doing their job so well - we avoid the no loop altogether - motivation stays high and frustration stays down. 

I know that’s a lot. Try it though. Even for one day. Aim to say YES 10 times for every one time you may need to say NO. Really try to focus on the YES loop, avoid the NO loop and watch your puppy’s behavior improve dramatically.

Anticipating behavior and working to shape what my puppy chooses to do in situations throughout the day, helps me remain on the YES loop where cooperation is high and frustration is low versus spending my day saying NO where cooperation deteriorates and frustration explodes. 

Have a wonderful week and Thanks for listening! Happy training!