Teaching a dog "Yes and no"


Staff member
Do you think it's possible to teach a dog answers as opposed to just commands?

I think it is. You can teach a dog to sit when you tell it to sit. You can teach a dog to roll over, lay down, come, fetch, etc. My theory is that dogs know what they want. There has got to be a way to teach them to communicate that.

If a dog wants something it will usually come up to you and either just sit there, whine, or maybe bark. But what does it want? Does it want to play, eat, go outside, or does it need to show you something? Who knows. All you can do is sit there and ask it "What do you want?" like an idiot (by idiot I mean you, the one expecting the dog to actually tell you what it wants).

Here's my theory. I think it's possible to teach a dog to respond to words based on if it wants to do a specific thing.

For example. If it's possible to teach a dog to respond to very simple questions the following scenario could actually play out:

Dog walks up to you and acts nervous or whines. Obviously it wants something.

You could say to it "Outside?"

The dog doesn't want to go out side so it lays down and puts its hands over it's head. (or whatever you think would be the best thing to teach it to do to communicate "no".)

You give it another option, "Food?"

Food was in fact what the dog wanted. The dog stands up and barks when you say "Food". This means "yes".

Do you think something like that could be taught to a dog? I think it could. With some of the dogs I've seen in movies and on talk shows I know dogs can be very intelligent if given the right opportunity.

Do, do you think it's possible to teach a dog to respond differently to simple questions based on what it wants?
Well essentially dogs already do that. I've got a 6 month old puppy, and if it comes to me and sits down and nudges me with it's nose it wants something. Now then I go through the list.

Wanna go outside? (If yes then it wags it's tail runs up to the door and sits there. If no it just sits there and stares at me)

Want water? (If yes it goes to the water bowl and paws at it)

Want food? (same thing as water)

Wanna play? (I get attacked) Haha


Staff member
Ah but not all dogs. Some dogs (most dogs in my experience) will just sit there and let you go through the list without realizing they have options. :lol:


Trust me, I'm The Doctor.
On one hand I have a dog that listens and lets you know what she wants very well, and on the other hand I have one that is borderline retarded.

I don't think that teaching a dog yes or no is as important as getting the basic behaviors and "need communication" down pat.
That comes down to repition with the dog. Everytime you go outside you always repeat "outside" more times than you think could possibly be necessary. when I water my dog I repeat "water" over and over and over again. When I feed my dog I repeat "food" over and over and over again. When I play with my dog I repeat "play" over and over and over again.

Yes you sound stupid, but don't parents talking to their newborns sound stupid too. It comes down to repition. You've got to be consistant in training. Reward them for actions. If you want your dog to sit down and roll over when it wants to go outside. Everytime you take him outside, before you open the door. Get him in the position. Repeat the command several times and hold him in that position. Then let him stand up and say outside several times. Then open the door.

It's all reward process. Rewards for certain actions. Dogs pick up on it suprisingly well.


/ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5
I also thought dogs already do that. I like it when they respond more to signs than words (so they don't need to deal with trying to understand foreign languages, lol).


Registered Member
I'm with Sui on this one. My little one will come over to me and shove her nose in my thigh so I know she wants something and I'll go down the list but usually it is only 2 either she wants out or wants to play because they have free access to food and water whenever they want. She actually thinks I'm her revolving door to the outside because I'll let her out and she'll come to the door not 2 minutes later scratching saying she wants in, let her in and then 5 minutes later she wants back out. That annoys me.