Does Your Dog Have “Bad Manners?”
Is your dog pushy, defiant or disobedient?
Does he/she refuse to obey commands unless he sees a food treat?
Does he/she come when called only when he has nothing better to do? Does he beg for food when you’re eating? Does he nudge your hand and demand petting?
If you answered “yes” I have some good news and some bad news. The good news – you can teach your dog to be a perfect little lady or gentleman!
The bad news – this behavior in pet dogs has a direct connection to the behavior of the owners. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Treat your dog like a person and he’ll treat you like a dog.” Your dog is watching you, and learning from you, all the time.
Follow these two simple rules to help your “pushy” dog learn better manners:
The deference protocol requires your dog to earn everything that he or she gets from you. This important training principle is often referred to by trainers as NFL (“No Free Lunch”) or NILIF (“Nothing in Life is Free”).
The dog must defer to you by obeying a simple “sit” command before receiving toys, treats, petting, walks, food, going outside, etc. Before you do something for them, they must do something for you. “Want a treat? Sit.” “Want to go outside? Sit.”
When teaching your dog to defer, your attitude must be calm. No yelling, no drama, no hitting. Your relationship with your dog must be teacher/student. You are the teacher, the dog is the student.
Dogs must never be permitted to demand play, petting, toys or attention. The owner should initiate all pleasurable interaction with the dog. For example, when you return home, ignore the dog for 5 minutes, then call him to you to greet him.
If Fido drops a tennis ball in your lap, ignore it. A few minutes later you can go get a ball and call him to you for a fun game of fetch. But it must be your idea, not his. You start the game, and you end the game.
Rude behavior in dogs did not happen overnight, and it will not improve overnight. But any dog can learn better manners if you are patient, consistent, and follow the above two rules.
NILIF stands for “Nothing in Life is Free.” This practice teaches dogs that they must earn every good thing in life.
Pick up all the toys (and the toy basket if there is one) and put them in the closet. Ask for a sit and give her one toy. Better yet, play with the toys with your dog – don’t leave her to occupy herself by finding things to do.
Whenever you let a young dog move about your house and decide what to do next, she will usually make the wrong decision.
Even if she were to ONLY pick up her own toys, that’s still not a good habit to instill. Leaving toys all over the floor teaches the dog to go looking for things to occupy herself.
In contrast, having her sit and earn each toy from the owner, teaches her to look to the owner with interest instead.
Dogs who have toys scattered all over the floor – or who help themselves to toys from a basket or box – quickly learn to go exploring in order to find things to do.
How is she supposed to understand that the shoe on the floor is not hers, but the rubber bone is ok?
But most importantly, the practice of helping herself to toys violates the NILIF principle.
The dog should be deferring to the owner for every resource, including toys.
She should never be helping herself to anything.
She must earn all good things in life including toys, food, treats, petting etc.
Nothing in life is free. “Want a treat? Sit. Want to go out? Sit. Want your Kong? Sit” Remember to mark the behavior with the work”Yes” then treat… food or toy or release word “Break” That’s what the dogs hear every day when their owners take leadership seriously.
In those homes, dogs are constantly deferring to their owners to earn everything they want, usually by performing obedience commands such as come, sit, down or stay.
In contrast, some of the rudest dogs I’ve ever met help themselves to whatever they want in the home.
The food bowl is full all day, toys and bones are everywhere, and no area is off limits. These dogs are rude and ill-mannered – constantly demanding attention, counter surfing, object stealing and jumping on and barking at their owners.
They barge through doors and knock them downstairs. They are rude because that’s the way their owners have trained them.
Want to start teaching your dog some good manners? Empty out the food bowl and make your dog sit for his food at mealtime.
Pick up the toy basket and put it in the closet. Ignore rude demands for attention and correct bad behavior when it occurs. Implement some common sense rules and boundaries and make sure the whole family sticks with them.
You’ll be amazed at the changes you begin to see in your dog’s behavior.
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