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The answer is yes - sort of. Dogs learn by association. They learn that whenever you say, "Stay!" you don't want them to budge an inch. They learn that whenever you say, "Fetch!" they should run after the ball.
However, the tone of voice and gestures can be as important as our use of specific words. People have experimented with scolding dogs in the tone they typically use to praise a dog. The response? The dog responds by wagging its tail in pleasure. The same has been true of experiments where the dog was given a scolding with a word normally used for praise. The dog responded according to the tone of voice and not the actual word usage.
So, remember, temper your tone with the command you are using.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|