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Plenty in Life is Free

Have you come across this senario: You are walking down the street and you ask your dog to perform some kind of task, for instance: sit and give paw to a person who is interested in meeting your dog. The first reaction you see is delight on the stranger’s face. The second reaction : Oh I see, you are giving him a treat! No wonder he is doing that!

Well, of course I am rewarding my dog for being good. What does that have to do with spoiling of bribing? I am rewarding this behavior because I want my dog to know that I truly appreciate his actions and I want him to know that he gave us pleasure and I want it to be fun and pleasurable for him as well. And so he will happily “give paw” or “wave ” to strangers when I ask him because he thinks it is fun too.

Kathy Sdao’s book very sensitively points out the fine line between coercion and eliciting voluntary behaviors. How the NILIF principle pushed to extremes actually can become coercive as well. I actually had been unaware of the fact that some trainers use the principle of “nothing in life is free” to the point where the dog has to earn every sip of water and, in marine mammal training sometimes even the air to continue breathing.

Kathy points out that instead of NILIF she asks her clients to reward their dog 50 times a day for behaviors that they want to reinforce, reward, cultivate…whatever you want to call it. I realize that I actually do that with my dogs. I reward them for being calm while I am typing this (excuse me ..I just had to walk over to them and give them each a morsel of chicken!).

It is a quiet, calm and joyful way of eliciting desired behaviors.

I highly recommend this book. I am not at all religious the way Kathy Sdao  is

but I wholeheartedly agree with her that communicating with a dog in this way and teaching a dog what we want rather than correcting what we do not want is a mutually gratifying experience that allows the canine/human relationship to become infinitely more intimate.

Food obsessed Mya voluntarily waiting
  1. How adorable! Such manners for Nono and Sia. Very creative on the adults end.

    Comment by karen on June 10, 2011 at 10:42 pm
  2. That is totally hilarious! Great job and really fun to watch!

    Comment by Fran on June 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm
  3. Actually my friend and website designer Kendra Dixson was the person who sent me the video. So 99% of the credit goes to her!

    Comment by Elisabeth on June 11, 2011 at 7:55 am
  4. Hee hee, well a good friend of mine forwarded it to me so the list goes on. I think it is so cute and I’m amazed at how well the dogs are behaved, although you do see a little help from the human hands so they don’t dive their noses into their dish. lol

    Comment by Kendra Dixson on June 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm
  5. yes the dogs are great! I also liked HOW they helped the dogs by pretending it was a human “putting your chin in your hands” gesture. It is most entertaining.

    Comment by Elisabeth Weiss on June 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm