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

Elisabeth Weiss is a highly certified, experienced dog trainer in Manhattan, NYC. To learn more about dog training services, contact us by phone at (917) 783-1473 or our contact form.

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