Articles Index/Training
Posted 05/29/98


"Enough" is one of the most peculiar, subtle, necessary things you will ever teach your dog. It means exactly what it says: enough. This is the word that will stop an activity when it is precisely the time to do so. That is, after it was OK and before it gets to be too much.

In order to teach "enough," wait until your dog is on the verge of going too far with something. Let's pretend Buddy heard something at the door. He runs to the door, listens, sniffs, begins to bark. You feel protected. You decide it wasn't so bad after all that you got a dog. Then you notice that your dog is still barking. By now, the squirrel or burglar that started him off is long gone. It's time for "enough."

In your most assertive tone (deep, resonant, not overly loud) say, "Buddy, enough." If you are lucky, Buddy will turn and look at you with a question in his lovely brown eyes. This is the time you quickly praise him. After all, when he turned to look at you, he stopped barking, didn't he? If he resumes his wall of noise, repeat your command, "enough!" And again, praise him if he is attentive and quiet. If on the other hand, your Buddy is a yapper or a mammoth mouth, you will have to get up, go to the door, grasp his collar and bring him up short with one good shake and the word "enough." Now praise him and go back to the couch.

Hark. Buddy is giving tongue before you're halfway back to the couch. Turn quickly back to him. This time when you say "enough," give him three or four shakes. (Editor's Note: Physical punishment should always be administered with a cool head and a light hand. Be aware of your particular dog's reaction and proceed accordingly.) Now march him back to the couch. Put him on a down stay.

"Enough" is indispensable in a variety of situations. When you are gently roughhousing with your dog and you don't feel like playing anymore or he escalates active play into too rough play by mouthing or biting, tell him "enough" and stop the play. If necessary, grab him and hold him until he looks into your eyes, which are repeating the all important message of the moment. You can even use the word when you are playing fetch, when offering treats, when on an outing.

Your dog will learn quickly that "enough" means that whatever was happening was OK but for the time being it is going to stop. Remember to differentiate in your own mind between "no," which means whatever you are doing is forbidden now and always, and "enough," which is used to stop a positive activity before it gets to be too much of a good thing. Enough said?

Carol Jordan
ANTIC, Spring, 1992

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