What is a “poisoned” cue? A poisoned cue is a cue that the dog has made a negative association with a cue. This is likely to happen when you decide to use punishment in your training. Your cue is no longer just a means of communicating to the dog what you’d it to do – it has become a sort of threat. This is just one more reason why punishment and aversive techniques are not a wise decision when it comes to training your dog. A poisoned cue cuts down on reliability and can sour your relationship with your dog.