Pouncing, barking at you, not coming when called, or not listening to commands… what to do? You can try a training technique known as “Nothing in life is free.” It isn’t a magic pill that will solve behavior problems but it is a way to instill a routine and way of living with your dog. It’s part of creating roles in your household and your dog will see you as a leader or parent.
What is “Nothing in life is free?”
If you have treats, toys, and food for your dog, you know he’s going to pay attention to you. You have probably had your dog bark at you for something they want such as throwing a ball or sitting pretty for a treat. Your dog wants these things. Your dog can have them but your dog must EARN them. That’s the basis of this technique.
Here’s a few tips:
1. positive reinforcement when your dog does something you’ve asked him to do reinforces the role of parent and dog, or pack leader and follower.
2. make your dog earn everything including being pet. Ask your dog to sit, come, or shake hands then reward with words, pets, or a treat.
3. create routines that your dog must adhere to in order to get what he wants such as sitting before putting the leash on, sitting before walking out the front door, sit and stay before the dog bowl is placed down on the floor, and shaking hands or sitting before throwing a ball or frisbee.
4. if he refuses to perform the command, don’t give in. Be patient and remember that eventually he will have to obey your command to get what he wants.
5. make sure your dog knows the command well and understands what you want.
Requiring your dog to work for everything he wants is a safe, positive, and non-confrontational way to establish a leadership role, train your dog, and have some fun while controlling the situation. Dogs can “train you” if you’re not careful by being super affectionate, pushy, or forcing you to do something such as nudging your hand to be pet. This technique reminds you and him that to get a reward there must be a reason.
Fearful dogs can also become more confident by obeying commands and receiving rewards. As they keep doing something right they become more confident and less stressed. They will also look to you for guidance. If you tell a nervous to sit and reward, they will eventually relax knowing you’re in control and will protect them or be their leader. Dogs want good stuff and if the only way to get it is to do what you ask, they’ll do it and it’ll create a good path of communication between you two and have a well-behaved dog which can reduce your stress or worries when you and your dog are out and about.