I work and you work to earn money to buy yourself nice 'treats', a roof over your head, food on your table, it builds self appreciation and confidence, gives you the opportunity to aquire good social skills in the society we all belong to..........and so must your dog earn everything it gets..........to achieve a well mannered, well behaved, well balanced dog who understands and accepts where it fits into it's human 'pack' hyerachy...that is at the bottom.
Undesirable behaviour can be caused by many things, including undetected illness so if your dog's behaviour changes it may be worth taking it to your vet's to first check it's health.
NILIF is remarkable because it's effective for such a wide variety of problems. A shy, timid dog becomes more relaxed knowing that he has nothing to worry about, the owner is in charge of all things. A dog that's pushing too hard to become "top dog" learns that the position is not available and that it's life is far more enjoyable without the title.
It is equally successful with dogs that fall anywhere between those two extremes. NILIF is not difficult to put into effect and it's not time consuming if the dog already knows a few basic obedience commands. I've never seen this technique fail to bring about a positive change in behaviour, or establish good quality understandable pack leadership in the human owners however, the change can be more profound in some dogs than others. It is a perfectly suitable technique, well really a ‘way of life’ for the dog with no or minor behaviour problems that just needs some fine tuning.
ATTENTION ON DEMAND
The program begins by eliminating attention on demand. When your dog comes to you and nudges your hand, saying "pet me! pet me!" ignore it. Don't tell it "no", don't push it away. Simply pretend you don't notice it ( no looking or talking). If the dog has got attention before this way, then it knows it has worked before, so don't be surprised if it tries harder to get your attention. When the dog figures out that this no longer works, it will stop.
In a pack situation, the top ranking dogs can demand attention from the lower ranking ones, not the other way around. When you give your dog attention on demand you're telling it that it has more status in the pack than you do.
Timid dogs become stressed/anxious by having this power and may become clingy. They're never sure when you'll be in charge so they can't relax. What if something scary happens, like a stranger coming in the house? Who will handle that? The timid dog that is demanding of attention can be on edge a lot of the time because it has more responsibility than it can handle.
Some dogs see their ability to demand attention as confirmation that they are the "alpha", then become difficult to handle when told to "sit" or "down" or some other demand is placed on them. It is not their leadership status that stresses them out, it's the lack of your consistency in not taking pack leadership responsibility. They may or may not actually be "alpha" material, but having no one in the pack that is clearly the leader is a bigger problem than having the dog assume that role full time. Dogs are happiest when the pack order is stable. Tension is created by a constant fluctuation of pack leadership. Even if you only have one dog, the humans (including children) need to be above the dog in pack leadership...you are all part of your dogs 'pack' as far as your dog is concerned.
Your dog already knows that it can demand your attention and knows what works to get that to happen. As of today, it no longer works, but it doesn't know that yet. We all try harder at something we know works when it stops working. If I gave you a twenty pounds every time you clapped your hands together, you'd clap a lot. But, if I suddenly stopped handing you money, even though you were still clapping, you'd clap more and clap louder. You might even get closer to me to make sure I was noticing that you were clapping. You might even shout at me "Hey! I'm clapping like crazy over here, where's the money?". If I didn't respond at all, in any way, you'd stop. It wasn't working anymore. That last try -- that loud, frequent clapping is an extinction burst. If, however, during that extinction burst, I gave you another twenty pounds you'd be right back in it. It would take a lot longer to get you to stop clapping because you just learned that if you try hard enough, it will work.
When your dog learns that the behaviours that used to get your attention don't work any more it is going to try harder and will have an extinction burst. If you give it attention during that time you will have to work that much harder to get your dog turned around again. Telling your dog "no" or pushing it away is not the kind of attention it is after, but it's still attention. Completely ignoring the dog will work faster and better so no touching, talking or looking at your dog.
YOU HAVE THE POWER
As the human and as the owner you have control of all things that are wonderful in your dog's life. This is the backbone of the NILIF program. You control all of the resources. Playing, attention, food, walks, going in and out of the door, going for a ride in the car, going to the park. Anything and everything that your dog wants comes from you, you are the provider of ALL your dogs resources. If your dog has been getting most of these things for free there is no real reason for it to respect your leadership or your ownership of these things. Again, a timid dog is going to be stressed/anxious by this situation, a pushy dog is going to be difficult to handle. Both of them would prefer to have you in charge.
To implement NILIF you simply have to have your dog earn it's use of YOUR resources. Dog is hungry? No problem, it simply has to sit before its bowl is put down or better still fill a Kong with your dogs dinner and get your dog to work hard to earn it( this is good if you need to leave your dog alone so it keeps it busy while you are gone). Your dog wants to play fetch? Great! It has to "down" before you throw the ball. Want to go for a walk or a ride? It has to sit to get the lead on and has to sit while the front door is opened. It has to sit and wait while the car door is opened and listen for the word (command) that means "get into the car". When you return it has to wait for the word that means "get out of the car" even if the door is wide open, (I use ‘wait’). You don't have to be too hard on your dog as it still needs ‘help’ in understanding all of these commands, so if it is is on a lead, you say ‘wait’ the dog is unable to move forward, so it reinforces the training, your dog then can’t fail and you can praise it, I call this setting your dog up to win or suceed everytime. Enforce the NILIF rules, but keep in mind that lots of things around your dog may have changed in it's life so it is going to need some time to get the hang of it all.So remember 'practise makes perfect'
If you feed your dog from your plate do you just toss it a green bean? No more. Your dog has to earn it. You don't have to use standard obedience commands, any kind of action will do. If your dog knows "shake" or "spin around" or "speak" use those commands. Does your dog sleep on your bed? Teach it that it has to wait for you to say "OK" to get on the bed and it has to get down when you say "floor". Teach it to go to it's bed,or another designated spot, on command. When your dog goes to the spot and lays down tell it "stay" and then release it with a treat reward. Having a particular spot where it stays is very helpful for when you have guests or otherwise need it out of the way for a while. It also teaches it that free run of the house is a resource that you control. There are probably many things that your dog sees as 'their' valuable resources that I haven't mentioned here.
The NILIF program should not be a long, drawn out process. All you need to do is enforce a simple command before allowing your dog access to what it wants. Dinner, for example, should be a two or three second encounter that consists of nothing more than saying "sit", then "good dog!", then putting the bowl down/kong and walking away.
ATTENTION AND PLAY
It is natural for your dog to be a little anxious and to come to you for reassurance, so you will have to make an extra effort to provide it with attention and play time. Call your dog to you, have it "sit" and then lavish it with as much attention as you want. Have it go get it's favourite toy and play as long as you both have the energy. What it needs most is quality time with you. This would be a good time to enrol in a local group obedience class.
NILIF DOES *NOT* MEAN THAT YOU HAVE TO RESTRICT THE AMOUNT OF ATTENTION YOU GIVE TO YOUR DOG. The NILIF concept speaks to who initiates the attention (you!), not the amount of attention. Go ahead and call your dog to you 100 times a day for hugs and kisses!! You can demand it's attention, your dog can not demand yours!
Within a day or two your dog will see you in a whole new light and will be eager to learn more. Use this time to teach new things, such as 'roll over' or learn the specific names of different toys.
If you have a shy dog, you'll see a more relaxed dog. As your dog no longer sees any reason to worry about much of anything. Your dog now has complete faith in you as it's protector and guide, it feels safe and secure because it knows you are a great leader. If you have a pushy dog they will be glad that the fight for leadership is over and it's new role is that of devoted and adored pet. Don't forget to look in 'Free Stuff' and downloads page