Behaviour

Nothing in Life is Free: Training Technique

The “nothing in life is free” technique instills a sense of respect and understanding between you and your dog.

How to Practice “Nothing in Life is Free” «

  • Start with teaching your dog the basic commands of sit and stay. You must be sure he knows these basics before you can use them in “nothing in life is free.”

  • Once your dog has mastered his basic commands, you can begin the “nothing in life is free” technique. Before you give your dog anything (food, a walk, a treat, attention), require that he first performs one of the commands. For example, before you take him out, have him sit patiently and quietly before you put on his leash.

  • Do not give your dog what he wants until he has performed the required command. If he fails to do so, walk away, come back a few minutes later, and start over. Be patient and realise that this process will take some time. Eventually your dog will realise that in order to receive what he wants, he must obey you.

Benefits of this Technique «

  • Some dogs will naturally assume a neutral or submissive role in the owner-dog dynamic, while others will continually challenge his owners for dominance. “Nothing in life is free” is a safe, way to establish control on a day-to-day basis.

  • Dogs quickly learn how to manipulate their owners if given the chance.

Nudging your hand for attention or worming their way onto the couch may seem adorable, but these are simply cute ways of your dog demanding things from you. “Nothing in life is free” ensures that your dog understands that you set the rules and he must abide by them in order to get what he wants.

  • Fearful or anxious dogs often benefit from the stability that “nothing in life is free” provides.

They flourish and gain confidence when their environment is structured and they are able to follow your commands.

  • Dogs often view children as playmates rather than superiors, so by teaching your child and your dog “nothing in life is free,” it will keep your children safe and confident with your dog.

Positive Reinforcement

It is much more effective to teach your dog what he CAN do rather than what he CAN’T do. Thus, positive reinforcement is the best method to train your dog. Positive reinforcement can be treats, praise, petting, or even playtime with a favourite toy. Correct timing and consistency are vital in positive reinforcement.

The positive reinforcement must come immediately after the act in order for your dog to make the proper associations between the reward and the act. Everyone in the home must be consistent in what behaviours are being praised.

For example, if your dog is newly housetrained, be sure to give him a treat and praise him each time he eliminates in the appropriate areas immediately after he eliminates. Once your dog is more accustomed to eliminating in the proper areas, you can begin to wean him off treats and lower the intensity of praise.

Negative reinforcement can also be used, but be careful to only use it properly and only under the appropriate conditions. Just as positive reinforcement works by associating positive thoughts with desired behaviour, negative reinforcement works by associated negative thoughts with undesired behaviour.

Negative reinforcement can be a posture, noise, or a physical act meant to deter your pet from a specific action. Punishment is only effective when administered while the dog is doing the undesired action. If the negative reinforcement is given too late, even by a few seconds, the link will not be made. Punishment will seem unpredictable and frightening to your dog. If done improperly, negative reinforcement can worsen or even create new behaviour problems in your dog.

No physical punishment should cause pain or discomfort. Be very careful with the severity of your punishment so as not to harm or shock your dog, both for the safety of your dog as well as your own.

For your own safety and the sake of your relationship with your dog, it is best to work through aversives to distance yourself from the applied negative reinforcement:

  • Textures: Double-sided carpet tape, heavy plastic carpet runners (turned upside down), irregularly shaped rocks, or chicken wire can be applied to surfaces to discourage dogs from entering an area.

  • Tastes: Certain sprays and gels are made specifically for the application to objects that you do not want your dog to chew on. They are often potent citrus smells and tastes.

  • Human controlled tools: Spray bottles, air cans, or whistles can be used to interrupt and stop undesired behaviour.

Remember to be patient with your dog throughout the training process. As you work to modify undesired behaviours, be sure to provide your dog with proper outlets for his natural dog behaviours. Train, play, and exercise your dog regularly to ensure a healthy and happy relationship between you your dog.


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