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Nothing in Life is Free

Nothing in Life is Free

by Beth Ostrowski-Parks, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Nothing in Life is Free!  (NLIF)
Also referred to as "Say Please!"

One of the questions that people ask in classes at It's PAWSible! is:  "How much time should I spend doing my homework?"

My answer:  "Infuse what you learn in class into your every day life."  Training lasts more then 1 hour a week AND, it's the moment to moment interactions between you and your dog that really matter.

There is a saying that whenever you are with your dog, you are either training your dog or your dog is training you!  I love that.

I want to remind you of all the things we happily provide to our dogs each day.  These are activities that our dogs love.  If you start training your dog around those activities as I tell you about next, your dog will learn to ask permission for those activities.  In a world where there are millions, maybe billions of dogs without homes, our beloved puppies and dogs get to share our home with us.   In return, the only thing we ask from them is love.   And they give it us!   Unconditional Love.  But we can get more from them and the result will be better behavior.

Don't be afraid to teach your dog to ask permission for some of these freebies.

Try this:

Make a list of ALL the things your dog(s) enjoy.  
That could be as small a thing as affection. It could also be a big thing like their food or the best treats!  

Next, rank them from highest priority (in your dog's opinion, not yours) down to the lowest priority of what your dog likes. Next start asking for a trick or a command before your dog gets something he or she wants.

Here is my list ranking from the greatest thing that I believe my dogs love, down to things lower in priority (in their opinion!)

1) their food (my dogs love their food)
2) agility
3) any treat
4) going for walks
5) going in the "van"
6) cuddling or being pet (this could be higher if it's night time and we are all hangning out in the living room)

Your list could be different than my list.  But the key here is to make sure you are asking for your dog to do something before they get something they like or love.

Is it time for them to eat?    Ask him to “sit” or “down” or “come!”
Time for a treat?  Sit, down, stay, come or leave it…
Time to go for a walk?  Sit before he gets his leash on, sit/down before he goes out the door..
Time for them to get on the couch with you?  Sit.  down.  Stay.
Time to play with their best buddy!  Ask for a sit and a "watch me" before you let him free.

Hopefully this gives you something that you start thinking about daily with your puppy or adult dog.   Once you start doing this, it will come naturally to you.  

Have your dog earn his prizes!  Your puppy will begin to respect you in a different way.  He will start looking to you for permission!