Author Topic: "Nothing in Life is Free"  (Read 7004 times)

Offline andrea1970

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"Nothing in Life is Free"
« on: November 23, 2006, 01:04:35 AM »
I went to the link mentioned in one of the other posts about the "Nothing in Life is Free" concept.  From that article:


Teach him that he has to wait for you to say "OK" to get on the bed and he has to get down when you say "off". Teach him to go to his bed, or other designated spot, on command. When he goes to his spot and lays down tell him "stay" and then release him with a treat reward. Having a particular spot where he stays is very helpful for when you have guests or otherwise need him out of the way for a while.


This article somewhat glosses over the "How" of implementing those rules.  How do you "make" a dog stay in a designated spot when there's company,etc other than standing on the leash every second?  How do you make him have to wait for your "ok" to get on the bed or couch or whatever?  I'm a little unclear how to enforce the rule without inherently giving the dog attention  You can't simply ignore him into staying off the furniture or not jumping on people (or eating chicken off the counter  ::)).

With our brittany (she's over 3 years old), I sometimes feel like I have another toddler in the house.  You have to have your eyeballs on her every second she's in the house to be sure she's not doing something she shouldn't  - like eat cat crap or chewing on used feminine hygiene products or dirty underwear or some equally disgusting thing.  If I secure the catbox from the dog, that means the cats can't get to it either.  Which is somewhat irrelevant because they hide when she's in the house because she'll chase them.  85% of the time she's fine and would just hang out with you on the couch.  It's the other 15% that drives you batty and gets her banished outdoors.  If you get up from the couch to pee or fix a drink or whatever, she gets up too and finds some sort of trouble.
"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."  -- Thomas Jefferson
Andrea DeJarnett

Offline Heather

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Re: "Nothing in Life is Free"
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2006, 01:43:42 AM »
If I understand your questions correctly, you are asking how does one make sure the NILIF rules are followed by the dog? I think this program incorporates ALOT of basic obedience such as sit, down, and stay. You also have to be firm, consistant and, I think, reasonable with the requests. Telling the dog to stay in one spot for hours while guests are walking around is not very practical. Not only does the dog forget the command after probably 5-10 minutes but a person cannot expect the dog to go against their instincts for long. Dogs are social animals and most of the time love being around the "pack." That's just an example of being reasonable with the requests. As far as the waiting for the word to get on furniture, the dog should have the stay command and duration down pat. The wait doesn't have to be for several minutes- 10, 15, 30 seconds will suffice. Just as long as the dog sees YOU are in control of when she receives such privileges. The off command can be a simple pointing away from the couch and firmly saying "OFF." I've found that a "Psst" sound usually works as well, and most times I just give Amos a look and he'll obey. You may have to grab your dog's collar if she doesn't take the hint when you tell her "off" (it may take her a few days to understand what it means but the command accompanied by physically removing her from the furniture will be sufficient enough. Just remember not to be angry or rough when teaching her this new "trick" :)). Personally, Amos is not allowed on furniture at all. I think it can create issues when the dog doesn't want to get off the couch or bed and you're trying to make them against their will. Also, your dog should not be jumping on people in the first place. The NILIF should not be expected to fix that- it takes a whole other form of training. You say your dog gets into things frequently. What are you doing for her exercise? A bored dog is a DESTRUCTIVE dog. Has she been walked for at least 30 minutes every day? Brittanys are extremely active dogs, being hunting dogs. What about backyard activities like fetch, frisbees, tug toys, etc? Does she have enough things of her own to keep her mind stimulated? There are many toys out there to help keep dogs busy and create problems in which they must solve for rewards. Kongs, treat/food dispensers and Nylabones are pretty good things to keep dogs occupied. I would also suggest a backpack for walks. When your dog is carrying something, she has a job and a purpose. Not to mention a 30 minute walk with some weight added to a pack will double the energy exerted  so it'd really be like an hour walk to her! Have you thought about doing some backyard obedience or agility with her? Being an outgoing breed, I bet she would excel in activities such as that. Also, along with obedience, fun tricks will help decrease her energy level in the house and raise her confidence, as well as establishing you more as her leader. I can tell you that Amos, when not properly exercised (walks, outdoor activities, long fetch sessions) he is an absolute NIGHTMARE to live with. He gets into kitty pans, in the trash, upstairs, bothers the rats, chases the cats, barks often, shreds papers/his toys and the list goes on and on. When he starts misbehaving, I know that it is my fault because he's bored so I'll take him outside for some exercise, or I'll grab a rope toy and play with him for awhile like that. Sometimes when it's poopy outside I'll even do some obedience sessions inside. I think once you get some of that crazy dog energy out, you'll find the NILIF program to work MUCH better. I go by Cesar Millan's method of exercise, discipline, affection. It works very well with my dog, as well as the NILIF program.

Offline andrea1970

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Re: "Nothing in Life is Free"
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2006, 03:21:57 AM »
She does understand and follow most basic obedience commands.  The problem is what she'll do in the absence of a command every 10 seconds. :lol  She'll get off (you, the couch, whatever) on command, but she'll just do it again the moment she gets a chance.

No, she does not get enough exercise.  I know we're in this vicious circle thing, but I haven't figured out a way out of it.   I know that the less exercise she gets, the more obnoxious she gets, which leads to more time outside away from the family which makes her even more obnoxious when she does come inside or somebody goes outside.  However, I'm not sure how much exercise/activity it would take to make a difference -- even on days that she's spent HOURS running for quail, she's still got energy to be bonkers at home in the evening.  I do know that I can't provide that level activity for her all by myself.  We don't really have a place to easily do fetch -- our yard isn't very big and doesn't take much exertion to cross it  - she can't even get up to a jog!

And part of it is family dynamic crap that has nothing to do with the dog. At this point, I am pretty certain a brittany was a bad choice for our family.  My voice was not heard during that decision process,  but she's here now and re-homing isn't going to happen.  So we gotta figure out how to live together.  And don't get me wrong -- I do love and adore Ginny.  And it makes me sad that we can't enjoy her and she can't enjoy us in the same way other dogs and families do.  Hubby doesn't see her behavior as a problem to the extent I do, and therefore isn't very motivated to address it.  But my opinion is if she has to be outside for me to do anything besides babysit the dog, it's a problem.  When we can't go out on our own patio and sit and enjoy a drink because the dog is going to tear you to shreds with her claws jumping on you or just generally drive you batty - that's a problem.

I am trying to work with her to keep her off the furniture in general.  One of her most annoying things is she'll come inside and go tearing through the house and go prancing across the furntiture during her cat search.  And if you happen to be sitting on the couch, she just runs across you like you're part of the furniture.   There is nothing cute about a 40 lb dog running across your lap and jumping over to the loveseat from your lap. So I am trying to make couch time "by invitation only".  And I know that is largely a habit we have allowed for 3 years and it's going to take time to break it.  But I really think we need to eliminate the furniture as part of "her space".  While I've been typing this, I've run her off the couch 10 times- I finally put the leash on her and hooked it around my ankle and she's laying here perfectly fine. 

We've done basic obedience and she is generally very good at complying with basic commands: off, leave it, down, stay, wait.  But she has the attention span of a gnat and "forgets" it the second you're not on her case.

Sorry - I guess I'm just whining now because I'm so frustrated.  And part of that comes from spending 2 days at my parents with THEIR dog that is very enjoyable to have around.  Although he's very much a "lap dog" and if you're sitting he's right there with you, there is just some qualitative difference that makes it not so annoying.  Part of it is he is nowhere near as hefty or strong, so you just don't notice him.  But he's just not so danged hyper -- no running through the house or any of that crap.  He's just sorta "there" without being horribly intrusive.  And I know a lot of that is just a difference in inherent temperament and part of it is that he's older.

BOttom line is we need to find a way for her to get more activity and exercise.  Just figuring out how to make that happen is another challenge all together.

Thanks for your input Heather!
"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."  -- Thomas Jefferson
Andrea DeJarnett

Offline elegy

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Re: "Nothing in Life is Free"
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2006, 12:30:09 PM »
i think you're pretty much spot on- it's just about enough exercise, about consistency, and also about training. teaching a dog to stay in one place is just training and consistency. it's harder for some dogs than for others- that's just the nature of the beast. if you're inconsistent it makes it 1000% harder. there's this great analogy about slot machines and dogs- if the dog gets rewarded at random intervals, they're much more likely to continue the behavior. so if she gets away with x self-rewarding behavior sometimes but not always, it makes it that much harder to break her of, because she's learned that sometimes, somewhere, she's gonna get that reward if she just keeps trying. same thing is true with rewarding the behaviors you do want, btw.

Offline Heather

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Re: "Nothing in Life is Free"
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2006, 02:18:06 AM »
Here's an idea. You got some neighbor kids around like 15-16 years old? Strap a backpack on Ginny with some weight and pay the neighbor kid to take her on a 30 minute walk or however much the kid thinks they can exercise her around the area. If it were me, my sanity would matter more than $10 a day. Maybe you can even pay for 2 walks a day and with the pack on, she should be very tired. Does Ginny have other dogs to play with? Is there a dog park nearby she can socialize with other dogs and play like she's meant to? It takes alot of commitment and effort and changing some things around but it can be done. Cut out some TV time or things that aren't priority and use it to spend time with Ginny. Your whole family needs to work together on this and take shifts exercising her be it walks or just running around the yard with her and throwing the ball around a bit. Not only will Ginny start to behave better but everyone involved in the family will feel better health wise with all the exercise. Do you take her places like Petsmart? I've found that the excitement of new smells, other dogs, strangers and the car ride itself is enough to knock Amos out for the whole day. Not only is it physical exercise that makes a dog tired but stimulation of the mind. Get her some toys of her own to keep her busy and maybe she won't destroy things she's not supposed to. It almost sounds like Ginny gets some attention but not enough so in response, she acts out in ways she knows how to get some form of attention even though it's negative. Perhaps if everyone takes part in her exercise and play time, she will behave better knowing that she's a part of the pack again, not just off by herself and watching everyone else have fun.

Offline forkyfork

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Re: "Nothing in Life is Free"
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2006, 02:34:58 PM »
i think you're pretty much spot on- it's just about enough exercise, about consistency, and also about training. teaching a dog to stay in one place is just training and consistency. it's harder for some dogs than for others- that's just the nature of the beast. if you're inconsistent it makes it 1000% harder. there's this great analogy about slot machines and dogs- if the dog gets rewarded at random intervals, they're much more likely to continue the behavior. so if she gets away with x self-rewarding behavior sometimes but not always, it makes it that much harder to break her of, because she's learned that sometimes, somewhere, she's gonna get that reward if she just keeps trying. same thing is true with rewarding the behaviors you do want, btw.

BTW  This ^ applies to children as well  ;D

We have a cocker and even at 10yrs old she can be on 24/7.  We HAVE to use NILIF or there is chaos.

I can tell you though that no amount of NILIF will make up for lack of responsibility. It is your responisbility to remove most of the temptations from the dogs reach.

Dogs are still dogs, even our dog who can go to another house be walked through the boundaries of rooms and areas she is not to enter and stay out, STILL has a difficult time resisting some things.

She is really good but "forgets" and gets caught up in things and has to be brought back with a command.

NILIF dosnt make a perfect no hassle dog, it gives them boundaries and a set of commands but dosnt babysit them when you arent there.

It can fix 85% of issues but the rest is about the responsibiltiy of removing the temptation. Our dog will stay out of the kitchen garbage but gets into the bathroom garbage, snack out of the catbox and get into any food left within reach.

Though I have found her sitting next to a bag of somthing all night without sleeping because she knows she isnt supposed to get into it, she knows she will get a reward for not getting into it but it keeps her awake all night with conflict, its not fair to her to put her through that.

NILIF dosnt make them not want to do the bad things, it teaches them there are better things if they dont do the "bad" things.  And remember theyre only bad because weve decided they are, the dog has no clue why your dragging it around the house by its collar and yelling at it.

Also as "perfect" as our dog is for the most part, she still stays in her cage when we arent home. A dog that is busy can only handle so much staying out of trouble on its own.

As far as your dog and lack of attention, you will have to eliminate distrations and then work on refocusing on the "reward"  which will not be the treat but the command before the treat.

It takes time. the time is equivalent to the time it to get them that was plus the time it will take to undo it and the time to retrain them.  Be patient and consistent. It is definately worth it in the end.



Offline andrea1970

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Re: "Nothing in Life is Free"
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2006, 03:21:25 PM »
Heather --

I have a 12-year-old.  I think a certain number of walks per week may become part of his "NILIF" program!!  :cheeky:

The past few days we've essentially "grounded" Ginny -- she's not allowed up on the furniture anymore.  And I don't mean "grounded" in the punitive way -- I mean she's stuck on the ground.  :P  I've gotten down on the floor with her for some cuddling, but she's not getting up on the couch.  After this idea has sunk in, we may allow her up by invitation only.  But I'm hoping this will help nip one of the most annoying behaviors -- running across/through the furniture like it's just a minor obstacle.

We've also confined her to a 6-ft lead when she's inside - this is to simply not allow her to sneak off to find trouble or go on a running cat hunt.  It's a PITA to wash dishes, etc with a dog leash around my arm!!!  Does her having to untangle herself from the dining room table count as mental stimulation???  ;D

Thanks to all for the feedback.  Next trick is get hubby on board the "re-train ginny" program. :)

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."  -- Thomas Jefferson
Andrea DeJarnett

Offline knuckles

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Re: "Nothing in Life is Free"
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2006, 03:31:53 PM »
about once a year, Soccer gets put through "boot camp"  where I tied the leash around my waist and he has to go every where with me for a week.  yes it can be a pain, but it sure gets his attetion

Offline Heather

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Re: "Nothing in Life is Free"
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2006, 01:07:48 AM »
I tie the leash loosely around my ankle so my hands are free. That way when I walk, Amos still goes with me but I can be reading a book or whatever without him jerking my hand and making me drop it (and he HAS done it many times!).

That's GREAT that you have a son old enough to take her for a walk safely (obviously you wouldn't want a 7 year old doing it). It's also VERY tiring for a dog to pull a human on roller blades. I take Amos out rollerblading and we only get thru about 10 mins before he is EXHAUSTED and cannot walk another step. Ginny is bigger though so it'll probably take longer. Perhaps your son can have some fun with that, but only with protective gear on (my other dog pulled me down hills and off into ditches many times) and on a flat area so neither of them get hurt going up or down big hills. Once exercise becomes fun and not a "chore" you can find all sorts of creative ways to do things!

Offline andrea1970

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Re: "Nothing in Life is Free"
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2006, 01:14:35 PM »
I weighed Ginny Sunday at Petsmart -- she's up to 43 lbs!!!! :eek:  Guess she needs those walks for more than one reason!!!  !2-year-old is only 80 lbs -- she can probably pull him quite a while!!!

We recently switched her from a "high energy" dog food to a regular adult diet, figured she really didn't need those extra calories every day when she's not regularly out hunting anymore.

Is there a safe way to connect a dog to a bike, without tangling the lead or the dog pulling the bike over?
"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."  -- Thomas Jefferson
Andrea DeJarnett

Offline ~Lin

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Re: "Nothing in Life is Free"
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2006, 01:24:39 PM »
Theres this thing, I think its called a springer? For connecting a dog to a bike. It mounts on your bike and has a spring and stuff to absorb the shock of a dog pulling to help not pull the bike over. A dog can't pull your bike, but you can bike with the dog running alongside.