- Avoid circumstances that elicit the aggression -- at least
temporarily. Later you'll be able to work on desensitization, but only after you've gotten
the dog's cooperation, not resistance.
- Maintain an aloof attitude toward the dog. This is
accomplished quite easily by crating the dog (or isolating it from the family in a small
area with a babygate). This crating will be 90% or more of the time for a few weeks. This
seemed to make Gypsy much more willing to do ANYTHING I wanted her to when she was out --
she was so thrilled to have ANY attention that she was beside herself.
- Two-three times a day for 3-5 minutes maximum practice QUICK
sits and downs for food. (If you don't know how to train this, go to a class.) You are
working for speed and attitude here -- so reward correct behavior generously with praise
and food. If your dog has fear problems, ignore or minimize the need for corrections.
Don't make these training sessions a chore -- they should be fast and fun, not a battle.
When the dog is IMMEDIATELY and CONSISTENTLY and with ANTICIPATION obeying the commands,
she is ready for the meat of the NILIF program.
- At first, privileges are still restricted, but you'll
gradually be able to add privileges. Don't rush things -- if you have a bad day, just go
back to the prior level where things were successful and start over. Don't go from
confinement/isolation to full house privileges in a day -- keep doors shut, start with
limited amount of "free time". (This step is my modification to the program, but
it worked for me, so I recommend it.) Gypsy got 20 minutes her first day -- twice.
- NILIF -- Nothing in life is free. This means the dog must
PERFORM to get anything it wants. For Gypsy, because we were trying to reduce dominance
that was already present, I chose to use the "down" command because it requires
her to throw herself into the most submissive posture available. I have since started
peppering "sits" into the program, just to keep her paying attention -- but the
dominance problem is long gone, so I'm less concerned with how submissive she is.
"Wanna cookie?" -- nothing in life is free, so the dog must "down" on
command for the cookie. (BTW -- when you start introducing NILIF, carry food AT ALL TIMES
-- you're still rewarding the dog for submitting - this is NONCONFRONTATIONAL. Reward for
a LONG time, then wean off food sporadically, but still praise the behavior.) "Wanna
go outside?" - dog must "down". "Wanna drink of water?" -- that's
right. You're catching on. The dog gets NO freebies. She must *earn* everything -- food
(you should see her slam her body on the floor for dinner!), play, petting, water, going
out, going for a r-i-d-e, getting T-R-E-A-T-S, coming inside. Gypsy even has to
"earn" the right to work on the agility equipment ... partly because I think it
helps her attitude ("Ohboyohboyohboy, Alpha-mom made me down, I must be about to do
something Good"), and partly because she's so excited to be there that she needs the
BTW -- there are other non-confrontational ways to establish
dominance. Ignore a dog when it tries to initiate play -- and as soon as it gives up, you
initiate the game yourself. Alpha dogs decide when the pack plays, and when it hunts. And
I *do* like the idea of teaching a puppy or a dog to roll on its back and accept petting
... but it doesn't have to be a battle.
I support this method wholeheartedly. Gypsy would be dead by now if I hadn't found out
about it. So -- it stays in my sig. And whether it works because it changes their behavior
and not attitude, or because of the isolation in the beginning or the improved obedience
-- I don't really care. It worked for me. I hope it helps a few other people too. I
consider it just one more "tool" in my training and behavior modification
"toolbox" -- it's not a magic bullet for all problems. I'll happily share it
with anyone else who cares. And lots of those who don't. :)
"Wanna cookie? Nothing in life is free." -Lynda Oleksuk