“Nothing in Life is Free” is a simple training technique for the spoiled family pet. It’s a way of living with your dog that will help him behave better because he trusts and accepts you as his leader and is confident knowing his place in the family.
Here’s how it works. You have resources – food, treats, toys, and attention. Your dog wants those resources. Make him earn them. That’s the basis of “Nothing in Life is Free.” When your dog does what you want, he gets rewarded with what he wants.
First, use positive reinforcement methods to teach your dog a few commands. “Sit,” “Down,” “Come,” and “Stay” are the most essential commands. Make sure your dog knows the command well and understands what you want before you begin practicing “Nothing in Life is Free.”
Stop giving away resources. Do you mindlessly pet your dog for no reason? Stop. Your attention is a valuable resource to your dog. Don’t give it away. Make him earn it.
Before you give your dog anything (food, a treat, a walk, etc.) he must first perform one of the commands he has learned. For example:
• In order for you to put your dog’s leash on to go for a walk, he must sit until you’ve put the leash on.
• When you feed your dog, he must sit and stay until you’ve put the bowl on the floor.
• Play a game of fetch after work and make your dog sit each time you throw the toy.
• Rub your dog’s belly while watching TV , but make him lie down before being petted.
Once you’ve given the command, don’t give your dog what he wants until he does what you want. If he refuses to perform the command, don’t give in. Be patient and remember that eventually he will have to obey your command to get what he wants.
The benefits of this technique
Requiring your dog to work for everything he wants is a safe, positive, non-confrontational way to establish your leadership position.
Even if your dog never displays aggressive behavior such as growling, snarling, or snapping, he can still manipulate you. He may be affectionate to the point of being “pushy,” such as nudging your hand to be petted or “worming” his way onto the furniture to be close to you. This technique gently reminds the dog that he must abide by your rules.
Fearful dogs may become more confident by obeying commands. As they succeed in learning more tricks,their continued success will increase confidence and ultimately lead them to feeling more comfortable and less stressed.
Why this technique works
Dogs want good stuff. If the only way to get it is to do what you ask, they’ll do it.
Good leadership encourages good behavior by providing the guidance and boundaries dogs need.
Practicing “Nothing in Life is Free” gently and effectively communicates to your dog that you are the leader because you control all the resources.