Nothing in Life is Free
Do you have problems with your dog?
Like: Doesn't listen, runs away and won't allow himself to be caught, constantly seeks attention, always excited and can't calm down easily, barks to make you listen, digs, chews, grabs stuff and plays keep-away, behaves aggressively, acts "jealous" when couples try to hug or kiss or when another dog tries to interact with "his" person, grumbles or growls when jostled...
If so, you need Nothing in Life is Free.
This program teaches your dog that in order to get the things he wants, he has to listen; not to his impulses, but to you. The program makes daily control exercises a part of life, no big deal, and even pleasant! This means that when you *need* control you are more likely to have it. Nothing in Life is Free is a way to add more mental stimulation to your dog's day as well.
The program is *not* about deprivation. Your dog can still have everything he wants. However, your dog needs to work for what he gets for his own well-being. This is not unpleasant for your dog, as he will be getting more attention and clarity in his life, and will be more relaxed and happy as a result. It's not the "Doggy Boot Camp" that some people call it...it's fun and easy for both you and your dog!
There are two basic stages to Nothing in Life is free. The first stage is very outlined and strict...the dog works for nearly everything. The second stage (life maintenance) is making the dog work for a few things each day.
For puppies, new dogs, or dogs that are showing unwanted behaviours, the first stage should be followed for a period of two weeks to a month. This allows the dog to understand what is going on with no confusion. It sets the parametres. Although the program usually produces drastic results in just a few days or a week, do not abandon or reduce the program! The dog will quickly forget these habits unless you practice with him for a good length of time. It’s a big change…give him (and you!) time to get used to the new routine.
Get your dog on a twice-a-day feeding routine. Do not allow food to sit on the floor for more than 10 minutes! Do *not* restrict access to water dishes--these can stay on the floor.
Pick up all the toys except for a couple of chew bones.
Using positive reinforcement, teach a few simple behaviours such as sit, down, or shake-a-paw.
Once your dog knows these commands, begin asking your dog to perform these behaviours prior to getting the things he wants. It is important that your dog is doing it *when asked* and not just by offering you the behaviours. If your dog offers a behaviour, praise him, but then ask him for a different one to show him it's you that is in control of the situation. It is also important that you *direct* the dog to the thing he wants after he has performed his "work" so that he understands even more clearly.
|Dog wants this||Dog does this on command||You do this|
|Greet you when you get home from work||Down-stay while you remove outer clothing||You invite him into your space for hugs and lovin'|
|Play with a stuffed toy||Sit-stay-shake-a-paw||Throw the toy down the hall with some happy "yippee" yells|
|Get on couch||Sit||Invite onto couch|
|Go for walk||Sits and is still||Put on the leash|
|Petting||Shakes-a-paw||Pet the dog|
|Go out the door||Sits||Direct him to go out door|
|Get into car||Down||Direct him to get into car|
|Supper||Sit-stay||Direct him to his food dish|
|Ball Game||All different behaviours between each throw||Throw ball|
|Sniff a hedge||Sit-stay||Direct him to the hedge so he can read his PeeMail|
|Greet a guest||Down-stay||Direct to greet visitor|
If your dog does not comply with the command you have given, simply walk away or withdraw the item he wants. Try again in a few moments.
You might get "Paris Hilton" behaviour at some point. Some dogs are quite compliant with the program for the first day or so, then realize that they are losing control and begin trying very hard to "get around" the program. Your dog may be waiting excitedly at the door to go out, hear your "sit" command, and walk away in apparent disgust as if to say "well, if I have to pay for it, forget it, I didn't want it that badly. Screw off, you and that damn door." If this happens, shrug your shoulders and walk away as well. Your "Paris Hilton" will probably be staring at your back in disbelief! Eventually he will come around as he realizes that NOTHING, no NOTHING, in Life is Free.
If your dog does a "Paris Hilton" and walks away, make sure that he does not proceed to another fun activity. Place him on leash for a few moments and sit down on the couch or something.
Dogs that resist the program the most are usually the dogs that need the program the most.
After about one month of this, most dogs are happy, eager participants in the Nothing in Life is Free program. They have learned who is in control of the couch, doors, food, toys, and other fun things. They have also learned that by looking to *you* for direction, fun things happen!
You probably will have noticed that when you ask the dog for obedience behaviours, he is less likely to blow you off. You probably will see the dog is more relaxed in general, because of all the "work" he has done that satisfied his need for daily mental activity. You might see that your very shy dog is more confident, because now he knows that he's not in charge of looking after everything. Dogs that grumble when jostled usually will have stopped within the first week.
It's now time to slowly start reducing the Nothing in Life is Free program bit by bit. Do this over a period of about another month, gradually reducing the amount of things you ask him to do.
Ask the dog to perform a behaviour at least 5-10 times a day, rewarding him with access to the things he wants when he complies.
Dogs should always have to do some sort of behaviour for any type of food. Food is the most valuable resource on the planet for a dog, and also the most easy to control. Ask for a sit-stay and then direct the dog to his food for life.
Other ways to easily keep Nothing in Life is Free operating are to continue to always ask for behaviours when putting on the leash, going out doors, or greeting visitors.