Have you got a rebellious doggo whose cuteness is starting to wear off in the wake off all the precious things in the house that keep getting chewed up? If your pup refuses to listen to commands, won’t come when called, or is fiercely protective of its toys, then you’re in the right place because we’re about to break down one of the most straightforward yet astonishingly effective training methods for creating happy harmony between you, your dog and your household. This epic training technique, suitable for dogs of all ages, is known as “nothing in life is free.” A big part of what makes the “nothing in life is free” technique so effective is the fact that it is not targeted at a specific behavioral issue. Rather, it introduces you and your dog to a way of cohabiting that installs you as the trusted leader while confirming the pup’s place in your pack. Knowing its place in the pack (aka your family) is vital for your dog’s peace of mind and will result in a calm and more obedient demeanor.
How to practice the “nothing in life is free” training technique
This training technique is built around positive reinforcement which you will use to teach your dog a key set of commands and some fun tricks. While “sit,” “stay,” and “down” are essential dog-owner commands, it’s equally important to have fun with tricks like “shake,” “roll over,” and “speak.” Choose a few, or all, of these commands to work with. Then, before giving your dog anything resembling a treat (think food, walks, and affection) ensure it carries out one of the tricks or commands. This is how your pup learns that nothing in life is free.
Over time, dog’s thinking ends up something like this:
For you to take me for walkies, I must sit like a good boy until leash is on.
For you to give me the treats, I must sit and stay until you say I can eat.
For you to play fetch with me, I must sit and shake hands.
For you to give me a belly rub, I must drop and roll over first. The key to making this work is to never give your dog the treat it’s yearning for until it’s followed your command. If your pup is particularly stubborn, simply walk away and return a few minutes later to give it another go. Of course, it is important to be patient, keep showing the cute little critter what it needs to do for each command and, when it finally cottons on, follow through with its reward and a generous helping of love.
What are the benefits of this dog training technique?
While many dogs sum people up and immediately assume a submissive role, some alpha pups aren’t so easily subdued and will put up a challenge to their owners for dominion over the house. When these dominant pups are made to work for everything they want, the power dynamic is clearly established without the need for discipline or confrontations. It’s important to note that this alpha behavior doesn’t always come out as growling, snapping, snarling and aggressiveness. If your dog is affectionate to the point of being pushy, if people describe it as “full on” when it jumps up to greet them, and even if it constantly nudges you for head pats or worms its way up to spoon with you in bed, this behavior is indicative of a dog who’s manipulating its way to the top of the pack. Here again, the “nothing in life is free” training technique will teach the pup that you’re the one in charge. Even fearful dogs will become more chill as, quite often, their anxiety stems from fear that they may be expected to lead. With a clear, strong leader in place, these placid pups can let go of their fears and let their loving personalities shine through.
Why is this dog training technique so effective?
Dogs are pack animals and their social structure is essential to their survival, both as individuals and as a species. Known as a “dominance hierarchy,” the canine way maintains order by cutting down on conflict and encouraging cooperation within the pack. While your dog will conform to your human ways to a certain extent (and with a whole lot of adorable head tilting and curiosity), you can’t fight centuries of inbuilt instinct. So, to ensure harmony in your household, it’s best to understand your pup’s hierarchical predilections and establish yourself as the alpha of the territory. Just as important as your own alpha status is the position of your children within the hierarchy. Since kids spend a lot more time down on your dog’s level, it’s easy for the pup to consider them playmates, which is all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Getting kids to also practice “nothing in life is free” won’t curtail the fun but will ensure your family dog learns that they are also superior members of the pack.