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Teach Your Dog Self-Control

Dogs often misbehave because they lack self-control. This lack of control is at the root of a number of behavior problems, including jumping up, bolting out the door, and demanding attention. You can begin to get some control over your dog’s behavior by putting him to work. This means that you are going to ask your dog to do something for you, such as sitting or lying down, before he is allowed to do the things he wants to do, like eating, going for a walk, or playing a game with you. Many dog trainers refer to this as Nothing In Life is Free (NILF).

Nothing In Life is Free doesn’t replace training your dog to prevent specific behaviors, but rather reinforces the other training you are doing with your dog. It allows you to establish your role as leader, and helps to build your dog’s confidence.

Here’s how to put your dog to work:

Train Your Dog to Sit and Lie Down

You should train your dog the “sit” and “down” commands before you begin working on Nothing in Life is Free. You will be asking him to do these things frequently. You can teach him other commands to use with this program, as well, but he should know at least these basics before you start. Once he knows a few simple commands, it’s time to put your dog to work.

Make Your Dog Work for His Dinner

Dogs tend to get excited at mealtimes. This can lead to your dog jumping up on the counter as you prepare his dinner, or jumping up on you before you can get his bowl on the floor. Instead of allowing your dog to misbehave, make him work for his dinner. As you are preparing your dog’s meal, give him the command “sit” or “down.” He must sit calmly until his meal is placed on the floor before he is allowed to eat. If he jumps up before you have his bowl on the floor, pick up the bowl and put it away. Walk away for several minutes, and then return and again ask your dog to sit or lie down. As soon as he is sitting or lying down calmly, place his food on the floor and allow him to eat.

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