Nothing in Life is Free (NILIF) by Dr. Sarah Martin

Have you ever met that dog who just behaves SO WELL?  Seems attentive to every movement of her owner? Will sit and stay from afar? Doesn’t really need a leash? Won’t take food from a toddler unless he has permission? When you work in the veterinary industry you really appreciate a dog with manners… but I think this is likely true for everyone!

What makes these dogs so good? In short – nothing in life is free. This basic belief is the best place to start with a pup or if you need to retrain your dog.

A dog on NILIF gets nothing – not attention, not food, not walks – without earning it. It can be as simple as performing an action like “Sit” or “Down.” No collecting ear scratches just by resting that big doggy head on your thigh while you’re watching TV. It sounds so grim and yet it really shouldn’t be. Another way of saying this is “Say Please”.

The big insight behind a “Say Please” program is that we, our dogs’ people, hold the key to pretty much everything a dog wants in life; walks, attention, tasty treatsa game of tug.

Obviously, “Say Please” calls for some effort on the human’s part, especially if you’re not used to thinking much about your interactions with your dog. But it can become second nature if you stick with it for a while, and of course it gets easier and easier as your dog learns to look for your cues throughout the day. Still, you might wonder, why go to the trouble of learning this more structured way of relating to your dog?

A puppy who has no manners or is erratically taught manners will grow into a dog who’s clueless about human rules. We have all seen those dogs when they are sweet then they are merely annoying, which can be bad enough having an 80lbs dog that won’t listen. But what if it is an 80lbs dog that never really learned that it is not ok to growl when you approach his food bowl, or touch his front feet, or look in his mouth?

If we want dogs to live with human rules (and we do!) then we have an absolute duty to teach and enforce those rules. It is only fair. Just like with humans, relationships fail if one party has no idea what the other wants and expects!

If you need help figuring out the best way to train your pup or retrain your older dog, please do not hesitate to contact the team at Park Road Veterinary Clinic in Brantford!